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Thread: WK's Top something or other... let's just say "games" and call it good list.

  1. #46
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    85.
    You know, despite the initial blowout from Chrono Trigger fans concerning this game, I honestly not only really liked Chrono Cross, but I feel this is how you should make a sequel to a super popular game/film/series. You set it in a different time and place, starring a new cast, and you let people think it has nothing to do with the original until it all comes together, and only then, do you discover you've been tricked into enjoying a sequel. Cross is written in such a way that if feels like its own thing, and there are some Cross fans who are adamant about that fact and try to distance this game from being a real sequel to the SNES darling.


    It's not hard to see how this is possible, Trigger involved a rag tag bunch of kids jumping across their planet's timeline to prevent a bad future in a high adventure setting. Cross deals with a young boy named Serge who almost died when he was a child, but has otherwise had a very uneventful life in his small fishing village of Arni. He then "crosses" (more like stumbles) dimensions and finds himself in an alternate timeline where the biggest change for Serge is that he's not alive in it, he actually died as a child. Trapped in this alternate world where no one knows him, Serge seeks a means to return home, and in the course of his journey, meets up with Kid, a thief who is out to get revenge on Lynx. At this point, the plot gets more and more complicated as major, and not so major, characters flood the story as Serge explores this alternate world. The game then has a really great twist that is as worthy as Crono's death from CT as a nice change up to the story. At which point, you're finally allowed to return home and discover just how radically different events unfolded in Serge's home world. Enemies in one world are friendly in this one and vice versa. this makes it super fun to talk to everyone to notice the subtle and not so subtle changes between worlds.


    The game does an excellent job of conveying the concept of two alternate timelines that are similar, but still radically different. It is here the major messages of the game come to play, and it becomes obvious that Kato's time working on FFVII and more importantly, Xenogears, had a dramatic impact on his writing. Despite the games fanciful characters and colorful world, CC's story is rather heavy and somber, with a few anvilicious moments of getting a moral across, and characters stopping to wax philosophy on the subject of the ethics of time travel and the impact it has on the histories changed. Not only is this in direct opposition to the more kid-friendly and whimsical Trigger, but some fans argue its a direct criticism to its predecessor. I can't say one way or the other what Kato was thinking when he wrote the story, he was one of the writer's for CT as well, but he did seem a bit annoyed with how certain aspects came about with that title. In many ways, CC feels like a game that not only tries to address an obvious time paradox left in the original, but really sit down and discuss the ramifications of Trigger's plot. Whether you feel this is a slap to the face of a light-hearted adventure tale or a bold direction for the story targeted to fans who were young enough to enjoy the original, but old enough now to need a more mature story, really comes down to one's own opinion. I personally appreciated it, and I don't even mind the fact the game kind of opens up a major can of worms of loose story threads as it has kept me invested in the idea of an actual sequel to this series.


    Though I am fine with the more controversial elements in the story and major tonal shift the game made from its predecessor, I do have my fair share of grievances and praises for the game. As a story, I mostly enjoy it, but I have always been a bit sad by how lacking the cast is. The game has over forty characters to collect, and maybe eight of them in total are relevant to the plot. Several characters could have remained as simple NPCs for how much they bring to the story after they join. The cast also kind of clashes with the game's tone. It sometimes weakened a really powerful moment like going to the Dead Sea, or finding the Masemune and learning its bloody history on the island, when some of your party members can be: a Luchador masked wrestler, a talking pink dog, a literal mushroom man, a turnip knight, a 50s retro space alien, or a talking skeleton that wanted to be a clown. The wacky fantasy/sci-fi kitchen sink approach to making characters often clash with not only the setting, but also the more somber and serious tone of the game. I get that many of them are here to add levity to a story that can sometimes get too serious for its own good, and I appreciate the fact the game has easily the most diverse cast of any Square title; but I really feel the cast could have been edited down and more could have gone towards building up the actual important cast members.


    The battle system is also something I've never cared for. It looks complicated on paper, but really isn't in practice. Like many of Square's RPGs at this time, magic seems to be here for obligation, but ultimately falls second fiddle to good old melee. The customization mechanics are like a weird streamlined materia system, and the battle mechanics feel like an overbalanced version of Xenogears combat system, except it still greatly favors melee abilities over magic. Due to the large cast, the playable characters are largely standardized like Suikoden's cast are, with characters being divided into three to five types (Heavy, Medium, Light, Mage, Unique), and mostly being interchangeable among their types outside of element affinity and the rare useful tech ability. This kind of hurts the colorful cast a bit more because it reduces party builds to novelty factors, and its really easy to build a party to your liking and never touch anyone else. There is the element system which does help differentiate party members, but it's only really useful in an initial playthrough and a few select battles towards the end that are surprisingly tough.


    The game has dual and triple techs but, it almost feels like they are in here as obligation rather than being a central mechanic like they were in CT. This is an absolute shame, because having this as more of a central mechanic would have made the large cast more alluring from a gameplay standpoint, but as it stands, most people don't bother outside of Serge and Glenn's X-Slash dual tech. The element field gauge is an intriguing idea and about the only thing that keeps magic relevant, but since you're usually outnumbered, it makes it difficult for your own party to use it for your own benefit, and often times, you only deal with it to make sure the enemy doesn't gain any additional advantages. Especially grueling as some bosses in this game can be brutal, and don't need the extra bonuses. There are summons in the game as well, but most of them are a pain in the ass to obtain, and require the element field to be their full color before they can be used. So even the extra damage they offer, they don't quite balance out with the amount of effort needed to make it happen.


    So the battle system is kind of a mess for my taste, being overly complicated in description, but largely easy to ignore; but where Cross shines as a game is the amount of choices you can make that have an impact on the story. In the beginning of the game, you have to sneak into Viper Manor and need to enlist the aid of someone to help get this done. You have three choices: Guile, a powerful magician/thief who wants to sneak in to fulfill a bet; Pierre, a goofy disgraced noble who swears he's good friends with Lord Viper when it's obvious he's not; and Nikki, a glam rock musician who wants to learn about the connection between his father and the lord. What makes this a bit different from a lot of other games of its time is that not only do you alter the plot a bit depending on who you go with, but all three of them make you take a different route into the manor instead of just having everyone use the same method. So I appreciate the fact the developers took the extra time to make this sequence very unique. Another factor that proves my point, is that despite Kid being a central figure in the plot, it's actually possible to never have her in your party for the first half of the game. You can keep rejecting her offers to join forces, and this will actually affect who will join you in the game. In fact one choice leads you down two radically different story paths that only later converge back together into the main story. This impact of choice was something I really appreciated in Trigger and CC certainly took it to the next level. You have to play the game no less than three times in order to see every scenario.


    Its also safe to say that Cross is one of the most gorgeous games Square has ever made. I really mean that. Hunting down all the images for this game, I was bit taken back by how well they have held up over the years, and how striking they still are compared to Square-Enix's more recent titles. The vibrant colors and wonderful art direction make this game stand out and to have it topped off with Mitsuda's best musical score just adds to the gorgeous atmosphere the game creates for the player. While it's not my favorite OST by him, and I do feel the work is a bit too ambient for my taste, I can't deny it is some gorgeous work. I'm actually listening to it right now as I type this.


    Overall Chrono Cross is an odd duck for me. From a story standpoint, I really enjoy it, and I feel it was a bold direction for a game that had some pretty unreasonable expectations to fulfill. The greater emphasis on player agency in the story, which helps tie back into the games central plot element of different timelines and how choices make them, was neatly done. Yet, the ho-hum battle system, poorly executed ideas, and the large, gimmicky cast knock it down for me. I will say that, as I began writing this piece, one of my biggest fears about this list has kind of come true, and that's the fact that really delving back into some of these games would change where I feel I should have placed them. On further retrospection, I really feel I would rank this game a bit higher, but perhaps that will change when I move onto the next piece.


    Last edited by Wolf Kanno; 07-17-2017 at 12:05 AM. Reason: I need to start proofreading these...

  2. #47
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    84.
    You know, even if you game a lot, there are some games that just stick with you long after you've finished playing. Wild Arms 2ND Ignition, or simply Wild Arms 2 was such a game for me. Released during a major deluge of RPG goodness on the PS1 between 98-2000, this game was a sequel to the original Wild Arms, which was considered to be one of the best RPGs on the PlayStation before FFVII came and dethroned it. Still, due to being released around the major RPG fad of the late 90s, it has been a bit disheartening for me to see and hear how few people actually heard about this game, let alone play.


    WA2 takes place on Filgaia, a planet that seems to be cursed to faced total annihilation every couple of centuries since the creative have revealed all the games do in fact take place on the same world despite all of them being barely connected. In the past, Filgaia was ravaged by a terrible demon known as Lord Blazer who had scorched the world o badly that even a millennium later, the planet is barely recovering from the devastation, he was defeated by a woman known as the Sword Magess, whose desire to save the world was so strong that Lucied, the Guardian of Desire itself, sided with her in the final conflict. She disappeared in the conflict, but a sanctuary was built in her honor and enshrined her holy sword, the Guardian Blade Argetlahm.


    In Wild Arms tradition, we are introduced to the game three main protagonists: Ashley, a hot-blooded young man who idolizes the Sword Magess and wants to be a hero just she was; Lilka, a klutzy spellcaster who lives in the shadow of her superior sister; and Brad, an ex-revolutionary, now criminal, who was once hailed as the hero of his countries rebellion. Each game begins with a prologue chapter for each character to set you up on their character arcs and to give you a taste of how they play. Ashley is tasked with some other men to stop a hostage situation in a local mine. Ashley's desire to prove himself kind of makes the whole ordeal get deadlier than it should have, but Ashley is able to save the hostages in the end. He's hailed as a hero, but ends up being put under suspension from the local militia due to his recklessness. Here we meet Ashley's girlfriend who runs the local inn and lets him live there. She wants Ashley to settle down but he still wishes to prove himself and become the next Sword Maiden. Lilka's story is actually two. Her main plot involves her accidentally screwing up a spell and landing in a small village that is being ravaged by monsters who keep eating their crops. The elders were thinking of hiring someone when she literally teleports into their meeting. While she helps the villagers tackle the monster problem, Lilka tries to encourage herself by remembering the time she was trapped in the Millennium Puzzle (not that one, though surprisingly similar) and how her sister helped her make it through the puzzle to return to the real world. Brad's plot takes place several years before the main story and involves the night he tried to run from the authorities after his rebellion. In the end, he is caught and imprisoned.


    When the story begins proper, Ashley is summoned to the Sword Magess cathedral because he was chosen along with his unit to work for a certain organization. Things become trippy when a weird noise is heard and everyone, including Ashley, are transformed into demons. Fighting his way through the cathedral, before his sanity is gone, Ashley is drawn to the Sword Maidens Holy Sword, and once he takes it, the demons and are banished and Ashley regains his human form, but the sword is now gone. After a few days recouping, Ashley is contacted by the man who summoned him originally, Irving Valeria. He is an eccentric and serious man who is descended from the Sword Maiden herself. Crippled at birth, he decided to use his family's fortune and prestige to build an organization called Wild Arms to deal with global threats due to the rise in monsters and other terrorist threats. It's here Lilka comes in as she was summoned by Irving as well, which was where she was trying to go in her own chapter. The two make up two-thirds of the strike unit for the organization and are sent on their first mission to rescue their third member: Brad.


    From here the plot takes several twists and turns. The team investigate small disturbances across the globe and soon encounter Odessa, a major terrorist organization with ambitions to conquer the world. The rest of the first disc centers around the battle between Wild Arms and Odessa, which involves the party having to unite the various nations of the world to stop them. While this all sounds like your standard fluff, the game completely subverts your expectations in the second half with some serious plot twists that jump into Metal Gear and Lovecraft territory. For people who played the first Wild Arms, this is kind of par the course as that game also started off with a fairly by the book JRPG plot before the second half really changed things around.


    One of the reasons why this game is on this list is due to the central theme: What is a hero? Why do we need heroes? And can change only be made through the sacrifices of heroes? Each of the games six playable characters struggle with the theme. Ashley wants to be a hero, but doesn't really understand what it really entails; Lilka has to deal with living in the shadow of her talented sister who sacrificed her own life to save Lilka from the Millennium Puzzle; Brad deals with the struggle of what does a hero do when their wars are over; Kanon, another descendant of the the Sword Magess, deals with living up to that legacy and whether its something she really wants to do; Tim, the shaman of the Guardians deals with being fated to cast away his life to "save the world" as a sacrifice to the Guardians; and Marivel, the last of the Crimson Nobles (vampires), who is well aware of Filgaia's centuries of selfish sacrifices of heroes to save it from one disaster after another. Even the NPCs often tackle the theme in surprising ways. I love the fact the game deals with the theme in a rather philosophical manner as opposed to the more kid friendly "guts and true companions" spiel you get from anime.


    The gameplay is no slouch either and mostly builds on the cool ideas from the first game. Each character fulfills a certain "role" in the game and have their own unique play styles. Ashley and Brad utilize guns, which can be taken into shops and upgraded for better accuracy, firepower, and ammo capacity. Lilka uses elemental crests to create spells and unlike most RPGs, you're free to pick and choose from the avilable list meaning you can start her off with Revive and powerful offensive spells if you want. Tim learns new spells based on the Guardians you acquire and he uses (think VI's esper system) Kanon uses her special attacks during her Force ability to randomly learn her higher abilities, and Marivel is a goddamn Blue Mage in everything but name. This makes party builds really fun and interesting... or I would say that if the game had some proper balance. Ashley acquires an early game breaker Force ability due to the story that not only makes him the most overpowered character, but many of the game's bosses are designed with the idea that you will be abusing it. Lilka gets royally screwed over by having her ability ability to group target her magic be placed with the situational force skills, and to make matters worse, Tim doesn't have this issue with his magic and he is required to be in your party to even use summons; so if you want to take advantage of the parties second force skill, Tim has to be in the playable party to do so. So ultimately, you kind of wind up using Ashley, Tim, and most likely Brad or Kanon for most of the game once their available and the rest kind of just become bench-warmers.


    With that complaint out of the way, I still appreciate the rest of the cast feeling distinct and you will utilize everyone in the dungeons regardless due to the games Tool system. Each party member gets a special set of tools unique to them that can be used to solve the puzzles in all of the dungeons. For instance, Ashley gets throwing knives that can be used to hit far away switches or occasionally cut an item. Lilka gets elemental rods to deal with ice and fire puzzles, and Brad gets bombs to deal with cracked walls. There is an almost Zelda/Lufia vibe to the dungeons with most of them requiring some brainpower to get through. The puzzles range from being fairly simple to "oh my goodness, what are you even asking me to do?" but in a genre that likes to relegate everything to forty hours of just talking and battling, I absolutely appreciate the fact the game goes to great lengths to make the dungeons much more versatile in their challenge. The game also introduced a mechanic where you're pre-warned about an enemy encounter. If the enmy is higher level than you, the exclamation point appears red and you have to fight, but if its green due to be higher leveled, you can hit a button and ignore the fight altogether. This mechanic is especially useful during the segments where you have to backtrack through earlier areas.

    WA2 is also just filled to the brim with secrets and cool optional dungeons and bosses, just like its predecessor. In fact Marivel is an optional character and her tools are required to complete all of the games optional dungeons. The optional bosses stem more from the FFV approach as opposed to later games and thus you need to learn how to deal with them with the meager resources you have as opposed to having special skills and damage breaking gear to stand on even ground and bork the rest of the game difficulty. Hell, many of these bosses are actually designed around punishing players who try to abuse Ashley's game breaking power. Some of them are also interesting conclusions to minor story arcs within the game as well, so they're not all just some randomly powerful monster that simply hangs out in a secluded place.



    Also, while the translation is considered to be the worse in the series, they did get one thing right: The game has opening and ending themes that play whenever you start up your game file or choose to end it at a save point, giving the game a TV feel as your playtime is framed around these cool opening and ending themes that change when you get to the second disc. Well the music originally had lyrics to all of them and I guess the translation team and Sony decided to not bother hiring new singers to re-record the songs, but they already chopped the singing segments from the pieces. They did add some awesome horn sections to the opening themes to compensate for the lack of vocals and after listening to both, I feel the Western versions are superior and help emphasize the spaghetti western element that seperates this series from its peers.


    If you want to play a game that still heralds to the fun adventuring of 90s JRPGs that also tackles a dificult theme in a mature way, then I highly recommend this gem.

  3. #48
    fat_moogle's Avatar
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    If Chrono Cross was available on PSN in the UK I would have bought it by now because everyone seems to love it, but it's not. Never played it. Or Trigger. Haven't played Wild Arms either - how's 3? Have you played it? The PS2 classic is a fiver on PS4 for a couple more days.
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  4. #49
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fat_moogle View Post
    If Chrono Cross was available on PSN in the UK I would have bought it by now because everyone seems to love it, but it's not. Never played it. Or Trigger. Haven't played Wild Arms either - how's 3? Have you played it? The PS2 classic is a fiver on PS4 for a couple more days.
    Its not as good as WA1 and 2, but it has its charm. Course, if you've never played the originals, you won't notice the issues I had with it which was how they streamlined a lot of elements I liked about the earlier entries. The plot is a bit more out there than WA2, which is saying something, but I never had any issues with it. It still has some cool elements to it.

    It's customization system is like an odd combination of VI's esper system, VII's materia System, and VIII's junction system. Guardians are physical manifestations of Filgaia that represent nature and are powered by human belief. You equip them to gain abilities associated with them. So if you want your character to use fire magic, you equip the fire themed Guardian. You level them up to gain additional skills but your character can only equip a certain amount of the guardians, and you also have to spread their skills evenly across the party since you use all four in battle. They also grant stat bonuses as long as they are equipped. The main issue I have with the mechanic is that the Light Guardian, who is acquired criminally early in the game, grants an ability that works like Locke's Valiant Knife from VI. This kind of trivializes a lot of the game's bosses.

    The game also has a lot of references to the original WA1 and a minor one to WA2, to the point it feels almost like a distant sequel to the first game as several important people from that game pop back up, though different enough to make you question if they're really the same person. Again, you won't notice since you've never played the early games but its a nice bonus you kind of miss out on.

    I've heard WA4 has one of the best battle systems in the series, but I have yet to get around to it as it's in my backlog.

  5. #50
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    Thanks for the reply! Maybe I'll give the first Wild Arms a go instead. It's 1 cheaper (tight) and because it's a PS One game I'll be able to play it on my Vita in bed and I'll get to see how it all started. If I enjoy it then I might get around to the third in the future if it's ever on sale again.
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  6. #51
    Feel the Bern Del Murder's Avatar
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    I was too spoiled by the 'Metroidvania' Castlevania games to get into Dracula X later on, though it is well put together.

    CC is awesome, especially the music. I actually bought Ogre Battle looking for the next great RPG after Final Fantasy III (as it was called back then). The game put me to sleep after ten minutes.

    Never played the Wild Arms games though I have the first one on my PSP. Should I start with that or should I jump into number 2 if it is better?

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  7. #52
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fat_moogle View Post
    Thanks for the reply! Maybe I'll give the first Wild Arms a go instead. It's 1 cheaper (tight) and because it's a PS One game I'll be able to play it on my Vita in bed and I'll get to see how it all started. If I enjoy it then I might get around to the third in the future if it's ever on sale again.
    The third entry isn't bad, I just didn't care for it as much as the first two, but I'm honestly overdue for a replay.

    Quote Originally Posted by Del Murder View Post
    I was too spoiled by the 'Metroidvania' Castlevania games to get into Dracula X later on, though it is well put together.
    I prefer the Metroidvania titles but I love the franchise overall except for maybe the 3D entries.

    CC is awesome, especially the music. I actually bought Ogre Battle looking for the next great RPG after Final Fantasy III (as it was called back then). The game put me to sleep after ten minutes.
    It is definitely an acquired taste, but I like the novelty of the mechanics and layout of the game. After reading up on the franchise, I may have to add Ogre Battle 64 to my list of games in the future cause it seems to be considered a very well done sequel and proof the franchise was strong without Matsuno's influence.

    Never played the Wild Arms games though I have the first one on my PSP. Should I start with that or should I jump into number 2 if it is better?
    Minor spoiler for my list, but I actually like WA1 better than WA2, though they are both fantastic games. The first game feels initially, a bit cliche heavy compared to the sequel, so it has that going against it, but I feel you can't really go wrong with either title. Of anything, watching a sword&sorcery game with a Wild West aesthetic is trippy enough to make the series stand out. The music is also fantastic.

    **************************************************************************************
    Man, I'm going to get some heat from Fynn on the next one. Even worse because much like WA2, it was a challenge to find some decent screenshots for this one.
    Last edited by Wolf Kanno; 07-18-2017 at 02:28 AM.

  8. #53
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    83.If you were tired of listening to people talk about Operation Rainfall for the Wii, and decided to finally play one of the entries, I feel its safe to say that this game was the crown jewel of the whole endeavor. The Last Story had some nice ideas but never took them as far as it should have and its story was blander than saltine crackers. Pandora's Tower was intriguing but was way too dungeon crawler for most people's tastes and overly relied on the motion controls for its gameplay. Xenoblade Chronicles biggest problem was that it was a game that probably should have been made on a high spec console, but considering Tetsuya Takahashi's track record of finishing games, it may been marred with the same issues as his past titles if he didn't have Nintendo pushing him along to finish the title to a satisfactory level.
    Here's an interesting history lesson for people who care. Xenoblade's life began shortly after Xenosaga Episode 2 was released. After fighting internally with his company for so long, and finally realizing he had lost creative control over his series, Takahashi kind of just washed his hands from the project and started brainstorming ideas for a new game. He came up with the idea of a game taking place on the bodies of two dead giants and he quickly had the art team build a small model to visualize his idea. From there, the project gained interest within the staff of his company, but the project sat in a standstill for a while due partly to finishing the Xenosaga series for Namco. In this time frame, Monolith Soft had been sold to Nintendo and the development team worked ona few projects for their new company. When Nintendo decided to try and win back the hardcore crowd for the Wii, after the high of casual gaming and the novelty of motion controls wore off in the industry, Nintendo asked three different companies to make an RPG for them. Mistwalker, Monolith Soft, and Ganbarion. With the opportunity brought up to them to make a new game, Takahashi brought back the idea of his two gods and the projects quickly went under way. Hoping to make amends for his past mistakes, Takahashi made the focus of the title be playing something gamers would find fun, and so he made sure to free this game up from his usual cutscene hell of previous Xeno titles. The game came to be called Monado: Beginning of the World but once the game became close to completion, Nintendo asked him to change the title to contain his trademark Xeno title, as an ode to Monolith Soft's past titles. At this point, we get into the Operation Rainfall details, but its nice to note that the game did well enough for Nintendo that the game has spun off into its own franchise now, with a spiritual successor in Xenoblade Chronicles X and the upcoming sequel.

    So what the hell is this game you may ask and why is it on this list?
    Xenoblade begins in the distant past, when two giant gods: one made of flesh known as Bionis, and one made of machines, known as Mechonic; waged a bloody battle against each other for control of the endless ocean world they resided in. Their battle ended in a stalemate as both gods killed each other in the last strike. Thousands upon thousands of years later, life emerged on both worlds in the shape of their respective gods, and while they each built up their own civilizations, they foolishly continued the war their creators had started. Flash forward to a few years before the beginning of the plot and the Homs of Bionis are setting up a last stand against a military surge of Mechon. There ace in the hole was a man named Dunban, who had been chosen by the Monado, a sword that belonged to the Bionis itself and shrunk down to human size which had the power to defeat the Mechon. Despite taking a heavy toll on him, Dunban led the charge against the enemy forces and won the war, but at the cost of the use of his dominant arm. Years later, in the peaceful Colony 9, which resides on the foot of the Bionis, Shulk is an engineer who builds weapons for the colony and studies the Monado. His life is pretty peaceful until the Mechon inevitably attack the Colony, led by the sinister Metal Face, a large Mechon immuned to the powers of the Monado. During the raid, Shulk awakens the power of the Monado and becomes its bearer. He vows revenge against Metal Face and his Mechon brethren and goes on a journey to kill him, but soon learns of a terrible power the Monado has, the ability to see the future. When he gains a vision that shows his closest friend dying, Shulk is troubled by the prospect and doesn't know what to do. Eventually Shulk uses the visions as a guide to fix bad futures and the plot begins to take on a more interesting direction. For a game made by the infamous Xeno team, Xenoblade is surprisingly straightforward. You'll feel the teams influence towards the end, but that can be anywhere from 40 to 120 hours later. What really sets this game apart from others for me is the world design. Takahashi has a knack for creating some of my favorite gaming worlds and he does a pretty good job trying to make them well thought and consistent, which I always appreciate. The very premise of the game is exciting and the game has some of the most gorgeous locations I've ever traversed through in a game. Combine this with a stellar soundtrack and you have a game worthy of standing side by side with Chrono Cross in terms of artistic beauty in a game. The tech snobs may snub the title for not looking as good as it could due to the Wii's low graphical power but I'm frankly impressed that something this gorgeous came out of the Wii. With that said, I will criticize the devs for really screwed up priorities of where to put their effort. So in most, non-major dialogue sequences, you're stuck looking at a really neutral looking face which comes across really weird when you listen to the VA cast do their best to be expressive. Okay fine, the team ran out of money and couldn't add more expressive faces for minor dialogue sequences. So um... is there a particular reason why all the girls have jiggle physics regardless if they are the low endgame models or the ones used in cutscenes? I mean you've got Shulk spilling his heart out in this one scene with a face that says "dull surprise" and yet anytime Sharla so much as turns her heads, the "girls" bounce around a little which is very noticeable. Combat is pretty interesting, the game drops any pretense of items and MP, instead utilizing a cool down system popular in MMOs. This frees the player up to use whatever skill they want with reckless abandon and form more concise party tactics. The A.I. in the game is pretty good considering and escapes a lot of the issues I usually have with such companions. While combat looks pretty dull when you're watching it, its a surprisingly involved process as you watch the rhythm of the battle and take advantage of specific party techniques to utilize the follow up moves. For instance, Shulk has a move that can stun and enemy mechon, while Reyn has a move that will topple any enemy with this stun effect in place. Being toppled allows for regular weapons to hurt the mechon without the aid of the Monado's abilities. There are several other move-sets like this and one character in particular has their whole combat style based around inflicting different types of status effects and damage based on how you chain his skills together. Speaking of which, unlike a lot of other RPGs, you can actually build any party combination you want and are not required to keep Shulk in your party, this is pretty cool because it opens up more interesting party combinations but also because it introduces you to the fun fact that all the characters play differently from each other. Shulk is a jack of all trades type character with a heavier focus on doing direct damage and setting up chain attacks. Reyn can be set up to be a tanking character who controls enemy aggro or a direct damage dealer if need be. Sharla is the team medic but her skills cause her medic gun to overheat, so her whole shlick involves carefully balancing healing with negating heat from her weapon so as not to stall it. Dunban is the guy whose abilities have different secondary effects depending on which order you chain them together and he works as an agility based tank who dodges enemy attacks while controlling aggro with his high damage output. Melia is the team mage and her skills begin by casting a party buff but can then be transformed into a powerful damaging spell, so she's all about balancing the right party buffs and knowing when to sacrifice them to bring in the hurt. Riki is another jack of all trades type character with an emphasis on damage over time skills from various status effects he can use. These different styles makes playing through the game with different leads not only rewarding, but also breaks up the sheer monotony the game can fall into sometime. The Vision element in the plot also comes into play in combat as Shulk will occasionally have visions during battle showing the player the boss is either revving up for a powerful attack or a party member may end up getting killed by the enemies next attack. After the vision, you have a set amount of time to prevent it by either changing aggro, using one of the Monado skills to protect the party, or even simply healing a low health party member. Successes help build a special meter that allows the party to chain together all their moves together to gain boosted damage in a similar concept as XII's quickenings. While the level design is fantastic and the gameplay is pretty damn solid, the game has a few glaring faults against it. The one most people won't argue with is the games awful inventory system, which is probably worse than Mass Effect 1's system if you can believe that. It has an absolutely clunky layout and UI that may likely be a result of the devs assuming most gamers will only have access to the Wii mote and not a classic controller. Combine that with the games sheer number of equipment and weapons to keep track of, which is exacerbated by enemies having the same issue as FFX's fiends and loving to drop two or three pieces of armor and weapons per trash mob, and you'll find yourself eventually having to rummage through the whole system to sell the crap and keep the good stuff. The fact that NG+ forces you to choose a certain amount of gear to carry over, thus forcing you to have to dig through the inventory system again, is quite the slap in the face. The game also suffers from the same issue that almost all open world/sandbox games suffer from, which is being bloated with too many sidequests. Granted Xenoblade does a great job of making this as user-friendly as possible as most quests will auto-settle once you complete the requirement and you don't have to backtrack to the quest giver. The game also features an extensive and well thought out NPC system where the NPCs all have interconnected stories that continue to open up as you advance the game. This makes chatting with the locals and accepting the quests far more rewarding as these quests tend to fill in some interesting gaps in the plot, some surprisingly character development for the cast, and helps to really get you invested in the world and characters. As you do more missions and grow a stronger bond with a town, more missions will be unlocked which may create a new story link between two NPCs. Its a neat concept and I love the fact the NPCs are actually developed into people instead of just information hubs. Still, the amount of missions in this game are exhausting and I still feel the game could have stood to have half of them cut out of the main game.It would have done wonders for the game's pacing. The game also has Heart to Hearts, which are kind of like Tales' skits between two characters. The whole party has them with each other and you really get a strong indication of where everyone stands with each other. Even better is you will often see fun quirks not present in the main plot as much, such as Shulk's fanboying over technology or Riki finally dropping his obfuscating stupidity to show that he's a lot smarter and mature than most of the cast. Its a great idea and I wish more games would do stuff like this. In truth this game is filled with great ideas and barring a few snags here and there, the game does it's best to be as user friendly as possible which is much appreciated. If you're looking for a game with one of the most imaginative settings and world designs that Japan can offer you should definitely check this game out.


  9. #54
    Pinkasaurus Rex Cid's Knight Pumpkin's Avatar
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    I like Xenoblade a lot but darn if it isn't easy to burn out on. I'm at hour like 70 or so and I still have some to play but I just got so burned out. There's soooo much to do

    Also the faces are euk

    MELIA IS BEST

  10. #55
    Feel the Bern Del Murder's Avatar
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    Xenoblade was the standout JRPG of the last gen. Also agreed with above that Melia is the best!

    Proud to be the Unofficial Secret Illegal Enforcer of Eyes on Final Fantasy!
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  11. #56
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    82.
    Well this game always takes me back. Something I don't about much on this forum is how my father was the guy who really got me into gaming. He's also the PC gamer in my family, and his favorite type of games are 4x Games. Empire was my first foray into the genre, but Colonization was the first proper entry I ever played. Sid Meier's Colonization is the odd middle child in Sid Meier's ground breaking Civilization, and the superior sequel, Civilization 2. As such, it tend to be forgotten since it's the games that came afterwards that really popularized the franchise. Yet you can tell from some of these screenshots, that this is the game that really solidified some of the rules and UI that made Civ 2 such an addicting game. Colonization has you choosing one of four European Nations, and set off to colonize the New World. You'll start colonies, befriend local Native American tribes who will often help you, build industry, kill off said Native Americans when they start to protest about your rapid expansion into their territory, meet the other European colonies and quickly descend into the same relationship you had with them back in Europe. Build alliances, build a trade between the Old and New Worlds, and eventually decide you don't need your parent nation and revolt for your independence and suddenly build alliances with all those other people you were probably just fighting with a few turns back. So the game is a surprisingly accurate portrayal of the history of the Americas with one major historical omission concerning a very robust and popular trade that would take another century to sort out, and even then, we're still feeling the ramifications of it it today. If you've played any entry in this genre from back in the day, there isn't a whole lot that is different. You build cities, name them something stupid (I was a comic book nerd at the time, so all of my cities were named after X-Men and I was Charles Xavier) try to figure out trade, transform colonist into specialist(think settlers and engineers) who can help till the land and build roads to increase productivity. You'll also build up your military to deal with hostile Native American tribes and the other three European colonies. The whole goal is to build up your society to be strong enough so you can finally declare your independence and fight off the mother country until they concede. Instead of wonders of the world, you collect "Founding Fathers" who are usually associated with early colonial history such as Benjamin Franklin, Ponce de Leon, and Hernando Cortez. These will give you special bonuses to your units and cities, as well as boost your overall score. The game does a pretty good job of trying to be pretty historically accurate as is it can be on the matters with many of the Native American tribes being decently researched and giving the player a wide selection of historical figures who left their mark on the Americas that stems from all four major powers. Course this is a pretty old game so things get left on the floor and the map you utilize is traditional random from the series, so it can be odd to be far north on the map and running into the Aztecs from a geography standpoint, but this is a game first and foremost. Probably the biggest element that is unique from the Civ series besides the conditions for winning, is the interaction with Europe. You'll need to develop trade lines with your parent nation and keep tabs on the resources you send back as supply and demand changes. You can also use these contacts to not only gain resources you normally can't get a hold of because the damn English refuse to trade with your Portuguese ass, and its a great way to bolster your colonies population as you acquire more people from Europe willing to come to the colonies to gain new opportunities. Its a great game overall, and I had a lot of fun trading tips with my friends in middle school about it. I know Civ 4 introduced an expansion based around this game, and while looking up stuff for this entry, it seems the game may have recently gotten a minor remake. So if you can, check it out. It was a fun and quirky game about one of the more controversial points in history.


  12. #57
    Taking care of business Cid's Knight Bubba's Avatar
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    Xenoblade Chronicles is still a game I need to experience. I've got the new 3DS version that I need to fire up soon. Thoroughly enjoying the list so far! The fact that you're now in the 80s means you're about a year ahead of Lonny BoB.

  13. #58
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    81. Welcome to the ultimate guilty pleasure game. Over the top violence, stylish action over any form of substance, fanservice, hot chicks in stripper outfits, masked wrestling, potty humor, kitty cats, an otaku power fantasy, and it was formerly a Wii exclusive title. The only thing it needed was a rhythm game, but considering its on the Wii, the motion controls kind of get that part in as well. No more heroes is a game by Suda 51, who is basically Kojima without the respect or prestige of making a million dollar franchise. Like Kojima, the guy fills his games movie references, auteurs game design, and loves to smurf with the players. Unlike Kojima, these games rarely make it past the niche market because Suda 51 wears his weird on his sleeves. Course looking at Death Stranding, it might be too soon to say if Kojima isn't going this route now himself.No More Heroes is the story of Travis Touchdown, a sociopathic otaku and general loser who lives in a hotel called No More Heroes with his cat and merch, spends his days wandering through dumpsters to find T-Shirts, does odd jobs to buy more useless anime and video game crap, tries to get laid by hitting on girls clearly out of his league, oh and he's trying to become one of the top ten assassins' in the world with the beam saber he bought off eBay. This game is pretty much about the last part, but you'll still get to experience the rest of his usual life. Travis meets a hot girl in a bar who hires him to kill a stranger. In hopes of impressing her enough to get laid, he does what she asks and surprise, surprise, Travis wins the fight and is now ranked the 11th best assassin in the world based by a mysterious organization that runs the lot of them. Travis then decided to got after the top ten and become the best in hopes of impressing his new agent to sleep with him. As one can tell from this entire premise, not only is the game incredibly tongue and cheek about the whole thing, but the cast and story sort of serve as a satire of the otaku gaming culture and the warped way gaming indoctrinates us into believing that murder and violence are things you should be praised for. Its just like Metal Gear Solid... if Solid Snake was Deadpool and Metal Gear Monkey was the norm and not the exception. The Deadpool reference is also spot on because Travis and the cast break the fourth wall all the damn time and the plot is absolutely hilarious. The game basically works like this. In order for Travis to fight the next assassin, he has to cough up some serious dough to gain the privilege, otherwise the organizations running this whole thing wouldn't make much of a profit losing their members left and right. So Travis has to spend the downtime between each mission either doing minor assassination jobs, usually dealing with the games trash mob enemies, or taking a part time job doing something absolutely tedious and stupid like being a gas pump attendant, mowing lawns, or extracting deadly scorpions. All of these mini-games make full use of the motion controls which makes them a it more interesting than you would expect. Once he has the money, Travis can face off against his next target and all of their goons. Like Shadow of the Colossus, the boss battles are the games main event and it sometimes feels like Suda 51 makes the downtime parts more tedious for the sake of testing your patience. The boss fights are nice because all of the assassins are very unique from each other, like a high school samurai who will test every single skill you learn in the game, an ex-army demolition expert who lays down trap pits for you to fall into before she tries to blow you to kingdom come, and even a TV Super Hero with a crotch energy beam cannon... yeah! The fights offer a nice blend of tactical thinking to figure out how to gain an opening, and the frenetic action of a brawler. Despite failing to achieving the lofty goals of motion controls adding a new permanent dimension into gaming. I have a soft spot for the Wii as you can kind of tell considering this is now my third game from the console. While I always felt the tech was probably going to be wonky, I also feel the problem with the medium was that too many devs (including Nintendo sadly) kind of had an all-or-nothing approach to the technology. Games either ignored the controls altogether making you wonder why they even bothered (Xenoblade) or made the controls so dependent on the game experience that the wonky interface became very much apparent (about 98% of the game on the system). Which is where No More Heroes comes along because I really felt it hit that nice middle ground of not relying on the controls but utilizing the motion element in a way to garner a big impact. Despite Travis' frantic swordplay, you don't actually swing the Wii-Mote to perform any of his normal basic sword swings. Instead you simply button mash A like you would have done on a normal controller. The motion controls only come into play for the big things: Like finishing moves, where the screen prompts you to swing the sword in a certain direction to enact the killing blow; clashing weapons, where you have to frantically shake the controller to break the enemies guard; grabs and throws, Travis' fighting style incorporates wrestling moves so you have to "grab" the opponent with both controllers and do the motions of the wrestling move; and recharging the sword, which involves a comical motion that many guys know, and many a girl of different relations with said guys have unfortunately walked in on. This relegating to the big things adds a certain weightiness on the combat that I simply just don't feel like a classic controller could properly replicate, without feeling like an arbitrary quick time event. Yet, I also appreciate the game not making combat solely based on the motion controls cause damn if my arms wouldn't get tired real quick and the novelty would have warned off pretty quick. So, in a lot of ways this game is partially on this list because I feel like it was one of the best representations of what the Wii was capable of doing. While its glory quickly faded, I still can't deny that I have no regrets playing this game. The other reason why it's here is because its just a fun and silly game. and the story is over-the-top in all of the right ways. It skewers so many bad action film and samurais tropes as well as one of the most hilarious fourth wall breaking backstories in gaming.

    Its definitely one of those games where I don't want to tell too much, the joy is really discovering the absurdness on your own. With that said, this is still one of those games where it has to scratch that certain itch that only some people get, and thus its not really for everyone. Still, this is a game that makes me smile the whole time I'm going through it and that alone makes it worthy to by on this list.

  14. #59
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    Well if the last two entries didn't turn some of you off, this one might do the trick as you now have to deal with my actual fanboy self.

    80.
    Robotech was the first anime I ever saw, though I was too young and dumb to understand any of that, it was just a cool show with transforming robots and more talking than my six year old self could probably handle. For those who don't know, Robotech was the Frankenstein creation of Carl Macek who wanted to bring Super Dimensional Fortress Macross to the U.S. but due to broadcasting standards at the time that required a minimum episode account he couldn't. His company, Harmony Gold, also owned the rights to Super Dimensional Calvary Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber Mospeada which were all associated with Tatsunoko Productions (Speed Racer and Gatchamen) and had similar designs. The other two series were probably not going to do well since they were not successful in Japan like Macross was, so Carl came up with an intriguing idea to simply merge all three series into one long generational epic about mankind's war with alien invaders and the secrets of Protoculture. Frankly, he did a pretty good job despite what a once vocal anime fanbase use to say back in the day. I'm also sure modern anime fans would be even more appalled since the fanbase has only seemed to grow more snobbish as the years went by. So after finally resolving most of the legal disputes concerning who owns what of the three franchises, Harmony Gold decided to bring the series to a new generation and started expanding the scope including a few video game tie ins. Battlecry was their first venture into gaming and they teamed up with TDK (yes the same guys who made that awful Aquaman video game but bear with me) and created an original story set in the Macross part of the Robotech universe that captured the original series. Battlecry is the story of Jack Archer, a former soldier who is drafted to work on the SDF-1 project and becomes the leader of the Wolf Squadron for the RDF. The opening missions follow the Macross Saga and its major events, explaining what Jack had done during the war with the Zentraedi and the eventual devastation of Earth's surface. The bulk of the game takes place in the post-war part of Macross, where the survivors of the war try to rebuild earth, prepare to go to space to deal with future alien threats, and deal with the social troubles of integrating the surviving Zentraedi into human society. Jack's Wolf Unit is one of many units that deal with Zentraedi Rebellions in the wastelands and he eventually has to stop Zeraal, a notable Zentraedi General who is gathering malcontent Zentraedi to build an army to crush the RDF and return home. So it's basically the plot of Macross's third act with just new characters replacing all of the main series characters. Despite that, the story is still pretty solid and thankfully doesn't mirror the original series too much outside of broad strokes. As a licensed game, you can expect that the biggest draw of this game is the fanservice. There are several returning characters from the show all voiced by the original 80s VA cast, and almost all of the new characters are also voiced by the old cast. What makes this a real treat is that the designers seem to have purposely cast everyone in an opposing type from the original. Cam Clark (Max Sterling) goes from talented wing man to main character Jack Archer, Rebecca Forstadt (Lynn Minmei) who played a finnicky 16-year old idol singer, plays the serious military mission support Izzy Randal which basically makes her playing the same type of role as her romantic rival in the original series Lisa Hayes, whose VA Melanie MacQueen got the wonderful job of playing the battrout crazy Zentraedi Ace Kiyora. I know this probably doesn't mean a whole lot to any of you, but as a fan, this is all super cool to me.Battlecry has you playing using the infamous Veritech Fighters through a variety of missions that incorporate all three of the mechs modes. Search and destroy, as well as defense missions take advantage of the Battleoid mode, Radar Escort and most space battles require Fighter mode, and occasionally you have to do human escort or grab important item missions which require the awkward Guardian Mode. All three modes play differently, with Fighter mode being like using a fighter jet, and Battleoid mode being a third person shooter. Guardian is the odd man out as it allows you to hover and grab things, but it lacks Battleoid Modes Auto-targeting lock on, and its missile attack lacks the punch of the Fighter mode. On the brightside, like the anime, you can actually switch between all three modes on the fly which can seriously help cover the faults each mode has. The gameplay works for the most part, but there is room for improvement, Guardian mode is mostly useless and you'll dread any mission that requires you to have to use it. Fighter and Battleoid modes are also a bit clunky but not to the extreme as Guardian, so they feel better in comparison but on their own its obvious they could have tighter controls. Escort missions are the bane of your existence since often times, the escort is actually sturdier than your own fighter. I'm also annoyed by the Battleoid's gun kind of having awkward power output. You can go into a sniper mode to pick off targets, at which point the gun does ridiculously high damage but the regular machine gun mode just does cherry tapping type damage to everything. A happy medium would have been nice especially in the boss battles as it feels like Battleoid mode is mostly useless and your strategy often devolves into zooming back and forth in the small arena in Fighter mode to launch a few missiles every pass. The game allows you to collect and use both the models of every Veritech in the Macross Saga, but also the paint scheme of all the heroes, including ones that never show up in the game. Sadly, barring a few units, most of the Veritechs only have minor stat changes between each other and serve largely a cosmetic choice. Then again, this is pretty accurate to the source material, so the gamer side is not too annoyed. Still, it would have been nice to be able to use the Destroids for some missions and add in a bit of variety to the gameplay.The game also has a versus mode where you can go head to head against another player in a dog fight which is super cool but depending on the rules set up for the fight, it can transform quickly into "whoever gets their full Macross missile attack off first wins" or "the longest drawn out fight in history". Still, I had a blast recreating a fight from Macross Plus with a friend, we even turned down the game music and switched in the OST from the Macross Plus for the full effect. As I fan of the anime, I appreciate all of the nods and references to the series proper. As a gamer, I felt it was a nice first effort, but could have been a lot better. I was very sad when the games sequel Invasion was reduced to being a crappy Halo knock-off cause FPS games had really taken off by that point and the developers wanted to capitalize on it. Even more irritating is that the sequel takes place in New Generation and the Invid Invasion which is one of my favorite parts from a setting perspective.

    As a fun fact, I've actually met Tommy Yune, who was a producer from Harmony Gold on the project and also the character designer. He and his brother Steve (also from Harmony Gold) signed my copy of the game and even got Tony Oliver (VA of Rick Hunter and a crap ton of other things from my childhood) to sign my game copy as well. So yeah, the dumb fanboy is real with this game, and everytime I do run into them at conventions, I keep asking for a real sequel.

  15. #60
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    79.
    Have you ever bought a bargain game as a lark cause you were bored and felt five dollars was a nice bargain for a cheap afternoon of entertainment? Now how often does that game turn out to be really cool and turn into game you remember fondly? I have only had that happen to me about twice now. Evil Zone, which is fun, but definitely a bad game and not appearing on this list, and this game. Um Jammer Lammy is a indirect sequel to Parappa the Rapper. It's set in the same world, but features a different protagonist and musical style. Lammy is a klutz and kind of a wimp, but when she has her guitar in hand, she's one of the best, even if she constantly doubts herself. The big concert is about to start in fifteen minutes, and as usual, Lammy is late. The entire game is pretty much about Lammy's journey to get to her concert and all the wacky adventures she has to finish through the power of her guitar work, even on the occasions she doesn't have her guitar and has to magically make do with whatever is on hand. The plot has a silly premise that goes into wonderful Japanese absurdness from the get go as Lammy's adventure starts with her having to pay second fiddle to an Onion Dojo Master (returning from Parappa the Rapper), helps fire men fight a fire, quite down a whole bunch of baby rabbits for a caterpillar nurse, flies an airplane, cuts down tress and even goes to the underworld. Despite the weirdness, the game has a pretty positive message about believing in yourself and the power of friendship and song. The music is also super catchy which is always a treat with these types of games. Gameplay is the same as the first game and is basically Simon Says but with a brutal need to be accurate and yet the ability to embellish as well. Good luck figuring out that thin line as this game can be brutally difficult, and is probably one of the most difficult Rhythm Games I've ever played. Your graded from Cool to Awful, but only need Good to proceed to the next stage. With each stage you complete, you get a special item which you can use to modify the sound of Lammy's guitar which will help or hinder later stages, but they add a level of change up to make the stages feel fresh through multiple playthroughs. Finishing the game actually unlocks Parappa himself as a character and you can play through the game with new hip hop tracks sung by the stage characters.The reason this game is here is because it was the title that first introduced me to Rhythm games. While I had dabbled in mini-games like the Topo boss fight from Brave Fencer Musashi, this was the first game I ever played that was a dedicated music game, and it quickly became one of my favorite genres. The game is also just so happy and fun, and with the long list of doom and gloom type games I play that deal with philosophical issues and oozing with melodrama, its sometimes nice to play a game that doesn't take itself so seriously and just wants you to have fun. Oddly enough, I've never ventured into the Parappa series beyond this game, though I think I have the second game on PS2 somewhere, perhaps I should give it a try.


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