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

  1. #361
    Taking care of business Cid's Knight Bubba's Avatar
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    Oh yeah, I forgot you covered Twilight Princess too. This is also my favourite 3D entry in the Zelda series. I loved the more mature look over Ocarina of Time's cartoony style. I also loved unashamedly using my Wii controller as a sword

    The dungeons are great in all Zelda games but they definitely stood out in this one.

  2. #362
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    16.In the year 2000, the world did not end thanks to Y2K, and Squaresoft performed a miracle. They made a game that got a perfect score on Famitsu, back when that meant something. To put this in better perspective, a magazine that has been around since 1986, had only given out two perfect scores before this point. Nintendo's Ocarina of Time and Namco's Soulcalibur. So yeah, it was a tough magazine to please back then. Since 2008 they hand out on average three perfect scores a year and I'm sure most of us would agree that Nintendogs, MGS4, and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Battle All-Star are not the first titles to come to mind that represent absolute gaming perfection that every critic loves. So yeah, this was a big deal back then and the game was Matsuno's sophomore effort with Square, Vagrant Story. Set in Valendia, Vagrant Story is actually a flashback tale concerning the mysterious events surrounding a terrorist attack on a Duke's Manor by a mysterious cult, and the same Duke being assassination a week later under mysterious circumstances. The only person who can truly answer the question is a VKP Agent named Ashley Riot who was put on the mission to deal with the conspiracy but mysteriously disappeared during the mission. The story proper begins when the Cult Mullenkamp attack the Duke's Manor to look for something. Hearing about the attack, the Church send in the Crimson Blades a violent group of soldiers who deal with religious heretics to deal with the group, but darker conspiracies are afoot as the government dispatches their agent Ashley Riot to the scene as well. Ashley is a Riskbreaker, an elite unit among the VKP who deal with Black Ops for the government that are often tantamount to being suicide missions. His partner for the mission is an intelligence officer named Merlose who is new to field work and has never worked with a Riskbreaker before. Ashley encounters the cult's leader, the mysterious and charismatic Sydney Losstarot who brandishes a mysterious power called the Dark. The cult escapes capture along with a hostage in the Duke's son, but Ashley and the Crimson Blades follow them back to the cursed and abandoned city of Lea Monde, where Mullenkamp's religion began. The city is inundated with the power of the Dark and the Ashley and Sydney find themselves in a cat and mouse game that involves the dark secrets of the city, while both avoid the wrath of the Crimson Blades.Ashley winds up dealing with far more than he thought with killing Sydney and rescuing the hostage. His own past comes back to haunt him thanks to the dark powers of the city which brings to light the things that mankind wishes to remain buried. Soon Ashley begins to doubt who he is and why he is there, all while discovering the darker conspiracies between the Duke, Sydney, the Church and even his own government as everyone races to find the Gran Grimoire of Lea Monde, which will grant the full power of the Dark to whoever wields it. I think it's safe for me to say that not only is Vagrant Story Matsuno's best written work, despite his usual unfinished nature of most of his games, but it really is his magnum opus. It's easy to gloss over the many layers it brings to the player and the game has a Kojima level skill in making you doubt what you know. Heroes turn out to be villains, villains are secretly heroes of their own stories, and Ashley gets just as badly mind screwed by his superiors and the bad guys as all of the Snakes in the Metal Gear series. What I love about the game is how non-definitive everything kind of is. Part of this is due to the game's rushed development of course, as some plot threads are left unanswered, but it works surprisingly well to leave a lasting impression as you wonder what became of the games cool cast and wonder ho Ashley truly is. Speaking of that, I'll say again what I usually say about this but I feel Ashley does Cloud's story from VII much better, mainly by remaining ambiguous. You are given a quick backstory to Ashley in the beginning of the game, but soon Sydney and a few other characters begin to offer a different take on what Ashley remembers and it changes your perspective on the character. Is he a tragic figure with nothing else to live for, or a monster who simply lost the taste for blood and brainwashed to still serve his masters. A neat gameplay-story integration is that Ashley doesn't learn abilities, he remembers them, and I will say that the man is a beast. The game does not mince words or pretend that your victories are not some kind of great feat. It would have been nice if someone would say they were impressed you slayed a god in Dark Souls, especially when the fight was well earned. In retrospect, it's no surprise that games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne are on this list, while it's never been opening admitted, I feel it's safe to say that Vagrant Story was likely an influence on both games, though probably not as much as Berserk, Lovecraft, and King's Field but like those games, Vagrant Story is about a lone warrior braving a dark and labyrinth eldritch location where monster feast on men and the dead do not go quietly into the eternal embrace. To describe VS at best is that it's a Medieval MGS title with the Sci-Fi elements replaced with dark fantasy and light horror elements. The game does a pretty good job of making Lea Monde feel like an unsettling place and a better job encountering monsters and the undead actually feel kind of like an "oh trout" moment. One of my favorite moments in the game is when you encounter a Crimson Blade Sorcerer, who tries to wield the power of the Dark to summon a monster like Sydney does, only for the spell to kill him. Just when you think everything is over, the guy gets back up, reanimated by the power of the Dark, and his spell completes to summon an enchanted suit of armor. which segues into a dual boss battle. Gameplay is very difficult to describe. VS falls into the same camp as Zelda and incorporates enough elements from other genres in such an equal amount that it's difficult to really pigeonhole the game into one genre. It's a dungeon crawler with a quasi-turn base action RPG battle system in which your weapon choice effects your attack range and you choose a part of the body to attack before using timed button presses to chain together attacks to either kill or at least cripple the enemy. This is all interspersed with block puzzles, light platforming, and heavy weapon crafting. Bosses are huge and dangerous, but even the mooks can destroy you if you're careless or ill prepared for them. In fact, a couple fully outfitted Crimson Blades are generally a bigger threat than some of the bosses in this game. One of the most controversial elements of the game is the Risk system, something I hated when I first played the game but have honestly grown to really appreciate and love. As your character chains together attacks, his Risk Meter fills up which dramatically reduces his hit rate, lowers his physical and magical resistance, and skyrockets his critical hit rate. What this means is that as the Risk bar fills, you miss more often and are far more susceptible to damage, even being weak enough to get one-shotted by enemies if they land a critical hit that takes all your health. On the other hand, what few attacks you do land will almost always be a critical hit, and your own healing magic will heal more than normal, so it kind of balances out. You're only means of reducing Risk is to let it go down slowly after disengaging from combat mode which can be very risky in battle since your shield is kind of important to your defense, or by consuming limited items that should likely be saved for later battles. Instead the system works best in short spurts as you attack just enough to get a few good hits in without raising your risk too much and then keep your distance until a new opening appears. You could also try doing an infinite chain of attacks and pray the occasional critical hit will kill the creature before you screw up and it murders you. Course timing slightly changes over time and I believe the game actually has a limit before it will automatically make you miss. It's a neat mechanic that adds a lot of tactical value to the game much like Stamina in the Souls series.It also makes you rely more on buffs and debuffs to save your hide as well which are often a 100x more useful than the games few measly attack spells. Weapon crafting is generally more useful as you find shops to build better weapons from the ones you find or pick off enemies, and the mechanic has an incredibly amount of depth I don't wish to repeat. Short version, weapons come in a variety of forms and materials which work more effectively on certain enemy types. As your character battles certain monsters with a weapon, that weapon's effectiveness against said monster increases, but it decreases against other types of monsters. The easiest way to get through the game is to build different weapons to suit different monsters and situations. Build a crossbow to deal with beast types like bats or goblins. Use silver weapons to deal with ghosts and undead. Hammers against Golems and crab monsters etc. etc...The dungeon crawling aspect also has a slight Metroidvania element going on for it as you will explore the labyrinth corridors that lead to different sections of the city. Sometimes the way forward is blocked by magic seals or locked doors that need keys so you'll have to backtrack to find a new way forward, but it's still pretty exhilarating slowly expanding the city until you reach the Necrohol which is filled with possessed murder dolls, creatures with instant death magic, and the leveled up versions of the Liches. I will admit the map mechanic could be better, and sort of explains why 3D Maps are not much of a thing. Also the Snowfly "wannabe Lost Woods" Forest can go smurf itself. As a late PS1 game, VS is surprisingly still good looking and Yoshida's artstyle really shines through, especially with Sakimoto's soundtrack. In fact it's easy to see some stylistic parallels between this game and the teams work on FFXII. In fact several ideas and visual styles were used for the Final Fantasy game. What's really surprising to know is that despite the few callbacks and references to FFTactics, VS was originally a standalone title. Made most obvious by the fact the Church of the game is specifically mentioned to be Christian. It was made part of the Ivalice series retroactively, but I feel it's a nice touch that several lore aspects of the game ended up having a major impact on XII such as Arcadia being placed in the Valendia region, and the references to the Kildean Faith. I'm almost surprised Lea Monde wasn't named dropped either. Overall, VS is a pretty sweet experience, a fund and twisting game in both its story and gameplay. It's like nothing else I've ever played and if you love Matsuno's titles you kind of owe yourself to play through this game. It's been slowly climbing my list over the years and every time I do another playthrough, I end up loving it more. Definitely a game I didn't appreciate at the time because I was too blind to see the games excellent design and cool concepts.

    Coming up: Doesn't that beat all?

  3. #363
    SHAAAAAUN! Scotty_ffgamer's Avatar
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    I still need to play this game. I tried as a kid and absolutely hated it, but I just sucked at games and was probably expecting it to be more like ff.

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  5. #365
    Feel the Bern Del Murder's Avatar
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    Vagrant Story is a gem I didn't discover until recently but I'm glad I did.

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    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    15.Time to discuss my favorite entry in the Breath of Fire franchise. It's interesting how some series, when they made the leap from the old platforms to the PlayStation, decided to really explore more adult themes in their games and recast old, but typically stereotype evil bad guys as more complicated figures. I feel games like FFVII started the trend, but I would I feel BoFIII actually handled this element a little better. As I've mentioned before, starting with the second game, the series began to incorporate darker and more mature themes before it was completely swallowed up by it in BoFV. BoFIII is the entry I felt hit a perfect balance of being an idealistic adventure story, but one not afraid to tackle some really unsettling themes and scenarios. FFVII only briefly deals with the idea of your characters actions being wrong, and never once dwells on the ramifications. BoFIII is a game where you're going to end up doing some unsavory things from time to time, well in between trying to make the perfect sushi for a finicky mayor or train some wimp to fight the town bully. I'm getting ahead of myself.Breath of Fire III is the third and final entry in the "Myria Trilogy" though it takes most of it's story connections to the first game. In the distant past, dragons fought a terrible war that nearly destroyed the world before God stepped in and put a stop to it. For their hubris, dragons became extinct and the only reminder of their magnificence is their corpses that have turned into a magical crystal called Chrysm that fuels the modern age. The tale begins in a mine trying to extract this chrysm when some minors discover a baby dragon frozen in a huge piece of chrysm. Assuming it didn't survive the process they chalk it up as an oddity and blow open the chrysm to gain it, only to discover to their horror, the dragon pup is very much alive. Knocking it out after sustaining several casualties, the crew ship it off to Wyndia by train but the creature rocks it's cage and escapes. Having taken the form of a little boy, he is saved by a pre-teen Woren named Rei. A local orphan boy who steals and robs from the locals for survival. He takes the young dragon boy named Ryu back to his home where he meets Teepo, another boy about Ryu's age who is also a thief. The two train Ryu in the art of being a thief, but the town they harass is well aware of the boys antics and only put up with it due to pity. Unfortunately a weak harvest has stretched food and money in the town, especially due to unfair taxes, so the boys resort to burglary and try to rob the home of a local Lumberjack named Bunyan who catches them in the act. Wishing to teach the boys a lesson about society preferring people who earn their living by doing good deeds for society, he forces Ryu and Teepo to help him chop wood while he assigns Rei the task of hunting a dangerous monster that has been preying on the towns crops and livestock. Concerned about their friend, the boys follow after them after completing their chore and help Rei to track the beast. When they corner it, it is desperately trying to protect a cave but the three triumph and kill the creature. Curious about what it was guarding, they discover the monster was a mother with cubs, but her children had died from undernourishment but she was still trying to find food for them. Bunyan had been well aware of this but asked them to put the grieving mother out of her misery. Despite feeling bad for their actions, the boys are celebrated as heroes by the town and start getting better treatment which makes them feel better about the whole thing, until they are targeted by a local named Loki who asks the boys to "fix" an injustice is the form of the corrupt mayor's unfair taxes. He asks the boys to break into the manor and steal the taxes back for the town, which they gleefully do. Unfortunately, the town is horrified by these actions, especially since the boys are unaware that the mayor works for a major crime organization and their higher taxes are due to a "protection racket". Ostracized by the town, the boys return home to discover it's been torched by two of the organizations leg breakers, Balio and Sunder, who proceed to attack the boys and take their lives as an example to others who cross the syndicates path. Ryu barely survives the ordeal, but loses track of Rei and Teepo, yet holds onto the hope that Rei and Teepo survived as well, and thus he begins a journey to find his friends. The plot is largely told in three acts with summary above detailing the first act. The first half of the game deals with Ryu's journey to find his friends and escape from Balio and Sunder, during this time, Ryu discovers his dragon powers and his connection to the Brood, the name of the Dragon Clan. His journey soon switches to wanting to meet God to learn more about his race and why God saw it fit to have his race genocide which actually leads into Ryu's adult life as well. Like Wild Arms before it, BoFIII explores a theme of Power and what it is actually good for, as well as the value of a life, even if it is dangerous or unnatural. The game is filled with scenarios that will make Ryu and the player question these themes and the moral choices concerning them. The game does a fairly good job of shifting perception and keeping the central themes in a morally gray area for the player. While you can probably still feel the villains actions went too far, the greater scope of the world given towards the end, reveals that their actions were certainly for the betterment of life. For a game that is often very goofy and plays the humor quick and often, the game packs some hard hitting moments. I also appreciate the fact the game has a time skip. You begins the game with Ryu as a child of maybe eight years of age but the game ends with him as a teen whose bitter travels have honed him into a hardier fighter. It's interesting to see that kind of growth and it actually makes the early sections of the adult life interesting as you revisit characters from the first half to see what they've been up to. The cast, for me at least, is fantastic and I really don't feel like there is a bad egg in the whole bunch. Even team pet Peco ends up having a major character revelation towards the end of the game that subverts it's role in the story and makes subsequent playthroughs more interesting in hindsight. The Ryu of this game is actually my favorite and I love how the game really shows his personality through with some of his animations despite being a typical silent protagonist. When Ryu first begins fighting in the game, he's terrified of combat and basically waves the sword frantically without looking while he braces himself for a hit. After he gets some good levels in and a few story moments, Ryu begins to fight with more confidence. It's interesting to watch him go from barely knowing how to use a sword, to two handing the weapon to better balance with his small frame, and then see his adult form effortlessly fight one-handed. Nina was a character I initially hated cause I always found her a bit too emotionally needy and ditzy, but getting over myself a little has allowed me to come around and see her as a fun comic relief character in the first half of the game and a strong moral support in the second half. Rei and Teepo's story in the game is pretty heartbreaking, and probably some of the most impactful story telling in the game. Momo is amusing since she often feels detached from Ryu's story and only goes along since his journey is often leading her to discover the truth about machines and the world's past. Her own story involving her father's research lead to some of the darker moments of the plot that deal with how science should be used, the value of a life that wasn't meant to be, and environmentalism. Garr is practically a late arriving deuteragonist to the story which ties deeply into Ryu's story as he tries to find answers to his own path and questions his faith in God. Overall, I feel it's safe to say this game has my favorite cast in the series and one of the few games where I don't have to force myself to use everyone. Gameplay-wise, BoFIII is easily my favorite entry in the franchise, and much like Wild Arms, I feel the game best embodies what I want out of an RPG from a gameplay structure. Like previous installments, every character has an action they could on the field which can be useful for dungeon exploring. Hunting is gone for the moment, but fishing remains and is a huge improvement over BoFII's simple design. The Manillo Merchants have also changed as they no longer sell goods, but trade them for the fishes you catch, giving you even more incentive to actually fish than just free health items. III's greatest accomplishments is the Master system, which is basically a vastly improved version of FFVI's Esper system. Characters can find masters and apprentice themselves under them, which will modify their stats as they level up as well as teach a skill every few levels in the game. Only one of a skill can ever be obtained, but the game allows you to switch skills among the party or place them in a book for later use or to dispose of skills that have become obsolete. Gaining the approval of a master leads to some interesting sidequest shenanigans such as a chef who wants you to fetch items for them, a master who refuses to teach you skills until you finish learning another master's skills, and even one that involves a global hide and seek game. This system is complimented by the act that every character in the game already performs a role in battle, so Masters can either be used to increase their specialty's or cover their weaknesses. Ryu is your main damage dealer, but he's also the team medic surprisingly enough. Nina is a black mage type character, Rei is a speedy thief, and Garr is a slow tanky brawler. Weapon loadout is more important in this game than the previous ones, due to EX Turns. If your character is fast enough due to high speed stats and light gear, they can gain an extra turn after battle. This can be expanded on by the team formation skills which can garner some additional effects like increased defense for the whole party, doubling the point characters attack power, or even giving the team the same speed as the point man. There is a serious amount of great customization skills in this game.I haven't even mentioned that your party can learn additional monster skills in battle by simply observing the enemy to help expand their skill repertoire.The cherry on top of all of this is the Dragon Gene system, which is easily the coolest Dragon system in the series. Ryu can obtain crystallized dragon genes that grant him various abilities. Some genes add an elemental property, some grant a statistical property, and some simply add certain skills or properties. Each gene has an AP cost and you are allowed to combine three genes to customize the type of dragon Ryu can become, after the initial casting cost, Ryu must expend 10% of that cost every round to maintain the form which makes playing conservative with combination to keep cost down important but also balances the system out compared to the previous installments. As an example of how this works, Ryu begins with a Fire Gene which turns him into a Dragon Pup with Fire based skills, if you combine it with an Eldritch Gene which grants a defensive bonus, Ryu becomes and Adult Dragon with better stats and an additional skill in addition to the fire skills. There are actually several unique dragon forms that require certain combinations of genes, and the game even introduces a Fusion Gene to create unique dragon hybrids with attributes of most of the party much like Karn's Fusion skill in the first game. It's a pretty cool system that makes the ones that come after it pale in comparison. III also introduces the Fairy Village, an evolution from the town building mechanic from II which has been in every BoF since. You basically get to build and maintain a town but instead of hunting down citizens you simply manage its growth and have the fairies brainstorm job ideas which you can then have the town implement like a shop that sells rare items, one that plays the games soundtrack, and one that even duplicates items. While it's nowhere near as game breaking as some of the entries like II's stat abusing citizen or V's infinite money exploit, the town is actually fairly balance and pretty damn fun as a sidequest. The game does suffer a little of the Breath of Fire problem, which is where the game plot sometimes falls off the rails to deal with mini-game/sidequest nonsense. It's not quite as bad as II and IV though, but the game does have a few really obnoxious quests that will drag the momentum of the story to a standstill. The aforementioned Sashimi/Sushi quest being a particularly hated one by the fans. Others are incredibly charming like helping a hapless accountant train to fight a burly sailor which involves your own party beating the crap out of the kid to raise his stats. Nothing is quite as satisfying as watching this kid no sell everything the bully throws at him before one shotting him with his wooden sword. Other than that, the game is usually pretty good about keeping you moving forward with most of the setbacks being purely plot related such as Ryu and Nina's bad fortune in the first half of the game before Garr starts helping them.The sprite work in this game is still fantastic in quality and while some people bemoaned it at the time, I really like BoFIII's unique jazz influenced soundtrack which sets it apart from both the other entries in the series as well as other RPGs in general. It might not have the best OST (IV and V have better ones) but I really dig it and it's nice to have a serious change of pace since the genre is kind of bad about having music that sounds too similar. In the end, Breath of Fire III embodies my ideal RPG. While there are several I love more than it for various reasons, and there are several games that do things better than it, it's kind of a good starting point for me. I love having a cast of unique characters in both plot and gameplay, but I also appreciate the fact the game has a deep and meaningful customization system that allows me to tinker with them. The system is pretty balanced, and the puzzles and sidequests are pretty damn fun. The story falls into that deceptive territory of feeling like a silly and fun idealistic adventure, before it sucker punches you with more mature themes and plotlines that subvert the colorful world and makes you see it as the more gray and gray morality that it really is. It has strong narrative themes that remain consistent throughout the plot with several smaller stories that lead back to these themes interspersed throughout the game to give the plot real purpose and something to mull over long after you finish playing. The game introduces clever retcons that end up changing your perception of the previous titles in a positive light. It's overall just a pretty damn great game and I feel everyone should play it.

    Coming Up: What lies at the other side of this tangled web of memory is...punishment? Or...

  7. #367
    Feel the Bern Del Murder's Avatar
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    BoF3 is my favorite as well. I love all the characters.

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    Pinkasaurus Rex Cid's Knight Pumpkin's Avatar
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    I need to finish this. I was enjoying it

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  10. #370
    Shlup's Retired Pimp Raistlin's Avatar
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    Breath of Fire III was one of my first RPGs and remains a damn good game. Somehow I never got around to playing most of the other BoF games.

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    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    14.
    Oh hey look, it's another game I'm going to cheat on because it's actually two games, but I would be lying if I said this would be the last time I did this . To be fair, the P2 Duology actually tells one story and was originally meant to be one game, but was split in two for various reasons during the production of what would become Innocent Sin. Now, I'm going to kind of do something I've largely avoided for most of this thread except on few occasions, I'm actually going to be spoiling elements of the plot. Partly because it is a pain in the ass to try and explain Eternal Punishment's story without referencing what happened in Innocent Sin and partly because it's incredibly difficult to convey how cool this all is without explaining some key points as well. On their own, IS is a goofy if unsettling game, and EP is pretty convoluted but intriguing title. Taken as a whole though, P2 is an extremely ambitious title with a very complex and intriguing story. While I will clearly mark when I will jump from one game to another, if you want to play the titles spoiler free, you may want to just pass on reading this entry of my list. On the other hand, I played the games out of order and not knowing the events of IS while playing EP didn't exactly ruin the experience for me, but I know everyone is different.

    Innocent Sin takes place three years after Persona 1, in the first timeline, at Sumara City and the story begins around Seven Sister's High School. Tatsuya Suou is our main protagonist, a quiet and reserved kid who loves motorcycles and a lighter given to him by a childhood friend, despite his aloof nature he's very popular at the school which gives him a lot of unwanted attention from gangs in rival schools and girls at his own. One such character is Lisa Silverman, a Japan born native whose parents are from the U.S. which makes her stand out like a sore thumb. In the past she was ostracized but now her non-Japanese features make her a bit of a celebrity at school. The two of them get mixed up with Eikechi "Michel" Mishima from a rival high school who is a narcissistic lead singer of a punk band,the top "bully" of his school, and said to have "psychic ability". The conflict turns out to be a ploy by Eikichi's band mates to get Tatsuya to join their band but the whole scenario turns into a fight between the three and all three reveal to have the power of Persona. They all collapse and meet Philemon, the personification of the positive aspect of the Collective Unconscious, who explains what their Persona power is and warns them that they will need it due to a strange phenomena going on in which rumors are becoming true in the city. After waking up, the trio test out what he says by doing the Joker Rumor which states that if you call your own number on your cell phone, a magical Harlequin in a pristine suit will appear and grant your desire. This turns out to come true but it seems that the Joker knows the three of them and blames them for some unknown crime. He steals the ideal energy from Eikichi's band mates and disappears vowing revenge.
    While trying to figure out what's going on, they meet encounter Maya Amano and Persona 1 veteran Yukino Mayazumi, who work for a popular teen magazine that is investigating high school rumors. The five of them band together as the rumors about demons becomes true and their personas allow them to fight back. They soon uncover a cult called the Masked Circle that is following Joker's will and collecting ideal energy from people for some scheme. Tatsuya, Eikichi, and Lisa all recognize the name of Masked Circle and as they travel together, a strange familiarity between the three and Maya begins to grow as they battle the four Generals of the Masked Circle and try to uncover their connection to Joker.
    Eventually the group remembers their connection to the Masked Circle and each other. As children, Tatsuya, Eikichi, Lisa, a fourth boy named Jun, and an older sister type girl would meet at the Araya Shrine to play. The kids all banded together over their love of a Sentai series called Featherman and each wore a mask representing one of the characters. Though Jun and Tatsuya were friends, the others never really took off their masks and the group bonded over being friends who never judged each other as the masks protected them from their problems like Tatsuya and Jun's troubled home lives, Lisa's appearance, and Eikichi's weight problem. Their club became the Masked Circle and their Big Sis taught them the Persona game which is how they all have Personas. When the kids found out their Big Sis was moving away, the children conspired to lock her in the shrine so she could leave with the exception of Jun. Unfortunately for the kids, a serial arsonist was in the neighborhood and set the shrine on fire. Tatsuya came back to the shrine to let his Big Sis out, but was attacked by the arsonist. Believing they caused the death of their Big Sis due to their selfishness, the group disbanded and buried the trauma in their memories. Te group soon realize that Joker must be Jun, the only member against locking their sis away and who would have knowledge of the Masked Circle, something that really hits Tatsuya hard since the two were the closest. What does come as a surprise is that Maya turns out to be their Big Sis, she was able to escape the shrine with her life but was terribly traumatized by the ordeal and was how she gained her pyrophobia. The group uses these revelations to renew their pursuit of Jun and convince him to stop their madness, especially since they now know that Maya is alive.
    Unfortunately, by this time, the Rumor issue has spiraled out of control in the public sphere and major conspiracy theories begin to materialize as truth such as Hitler surviving WWII and biding his time to rebuild his army for world domination and another concerning a book of Mayan prophecy that reveals that the Mayans were an alien race that built a special ship beneath the city in order to save a part of mankind from a disaster and lead them to enlightenment. It turns out The Masked Circle and Hitler are both after this ship and begin trying to make the prophecy come true. The group is able to get Jun back, but it doesn't stop the Masked Circle and the cult and the Nazis proceed with getting the prophecy to come truewhich allows the Mayan ship Xibalba to activate and rise above the earth. The party still has a chance to prevent the final part of the prophecy from coming true, and so they race to the center of the ship to stop Hitler. It's then revealed that Hitler and a few other figures in the story are actually the same entity and the one responsible for the rumors coming true to begin with. Nyalarthotep, the Crawling Chaos, and physical personification of all the Negative Traits of the Collective Unconscious has been orchestrating the whole phenomena of rumors and taking different forms to manipulate people to get hsi plan working. While the party is able to defeat him, Nyalarthotep arranges for Maya to be killed and fulfill the prophecy, ending the world outside of the ship. He then reveals that this whole ordeal had simply been a bet between him and Philemon to test the true character of humanity. With Maya dead, the world below destroyed and the villain gone to celebrate his victory, Philemon appears and gives the party a choice. He can send them to an alternate timeline where the events of the game never transpiredand Maya lives, but the condition is that the five of them can never meet and be friends, they must be strangers in this new reality and forget everything that happened. Heartbroken, the group agrees and Philemon send them to their new home, except one of them breaks the promise.
    Eternal Punishment picks up a few months after Innocent Sin in the new and current Persona universe. The game has shifted to Maya as the protagonist, and in a major shift for the series, the cast are mostly filled with adults in their mid to late twenties. In the beginning Maya comes across a strange boy whom she swears she recognizes but can't remember where, she calls him her Deja Vu Boy and can't really get the thought of his identity out of her head. She is tasked by her editor at the magazine to investigate a startling rumor that seems to be coming true called the JOKER Curse, where if someone calls their own cellphone, they can summon JOKER and have him kill whoever they want. Maya takes her roommate Ulala, an old friend with relationship issue and lack of direction in her life,to Seven Sisters High School for a quick interview, when they discover that someone hired JOKER to kill the principle. They then encounter Katsuya, Tatsuya's (yes it gets annoying) older brother who works as a sergeant for the police who arrives when the incident is called in. They try to find information on what's going when the three encounter JOKER who has been hired to kill Maya. Fighting him off with their awakened personas, the group have a run in with Maya's Deja Vu boy, who turns out to be Tatsuya, but he vanishes before they can get an answer out of him. The trio look towards Baofu, an underworld information broker with a shady past, to get a new lead and he informs them that rumors say that JOKER is connected to a parliament member named Tatsuzou Sudou, who is said to have ties with Taiwanese Mafia which intrigues Baofu enough to join them. They learn he has a son institiutionalized after he was caught doing arson as a teenager (This is the same guy who burned down the Araya Shrine in IS and he was one of the leaders of the Masked Circle) so they go to the hospital to only find that he has escaped. His room is revelaed to be covered in writing talking about the "Other Side", and only after do they find out he's in the hospistal and fighting off a hit squad called in on him by his father. The group chases after Sudou who keeps orchestrating events simialr to several of the Masked Circle events from IS and eventually the group are able to corner him with Tatsuya's help and end his tyranny, but Tatsuya reveals there is more to what's going on before diasappearing again.
    At this point the story falls into a conflict between Maya's group and the NWO being secretly controlled by Nyalarthotep. I am also seriously generalizing and condencing this plot so there will be a few more surprises, but yeah, game winds up being a redemption arc and i's pretty damn epic by the second game. EP itself makes a lot of use of the theme of Deja Vu and there are several call backs to the first game. In fact the first half of the game plays like an alternate take on the events of the first game, with you going through several of the same locations and relieving new versions of events. It goes a bit deeper as well because so many of the major players and plot elements of EP are minor characters or undeveloped plot threads in IS. You learn about Sudou's past and his father in the first game but never actually meet the man, whereas he's the primary antagonist for the second half of EP. Likewise, Tatsuya's relationship with his father and brother are only glossed over in IS but became major plot points in EP. Even the cast of EP barring Maya and Tatsuya are minor characters you encounter in IS, just as major players in IS are reduced to more minor roles in EP. It's almost like playing a time loop and it's really interesting to see the subtle and not so subtle changes between the two games. In the PS1 versions, you coul even transfer over some data to get a few extra bonuses, most of which affect Tatsuya's stats and gear but several choices made in the first game will have minor callbacks in the new game which is pretty neat if you ask me.I mentioned this in another thread, but P2 does actually have one of my favorite casts in the series, partly because they do a good job of balancing quirky personalties with down to earth problems that make them feel real, and also because despite the game being more traditional RPG before the franchise became a hybrid "dating sim", the surprising fact is that the characters are actually a bit more multi-faceted despite getting less screentime than the casts of later entries. I mean the IS cast all ddeal with an issue with their parents such as Eikichi and and Lisa being resentful at their father's trying to control their lives, Tatsuya and Jun are ashamed of their fathers and wish they had better parental role models, and Maya suffers from abandonement issues from her workaholic dad. The EP cast deal with more adult issues like Baofu's shady past with the Taiwanese Mafia, Katsuya's dealing with corruption within the police force and Ulala's self-esteem issues brought on by her directionless lifestyle and jealosy of Maya's career and good fortune. It's actually amusing going from this entry into the later ones as so many character traits and storyline get recycled in later games. The Tatsuya's relationship with his brother is reused in P5 with the Nijima sisters, Chie borrows several elements from Lisa such as her love of Kung-Fu and Cantonese. Junpei's relationship with the MC is actually just a redo of Ulala and Maya's relationship. P4's concept of Shadow-selves are taken directly from P2 with their origin being the only difference. So I have always found it interesting how much the newer team mines ideas from the game. Another aspect I love of the story is the cameos from other MegaTen games. Two non-Persona series characters pop up in the game in the form of Tamaki, the canon female lead from Shin Megami Tensei if... and Kuzunoah from Devil Summoner. Likewise, most of the P1 cast returns in some capacity over the course of both games with three of them being playable characters, which is kind of neat to see how everyone ended up after the first game and to watch the new cast get to see some serious veteran Persona users in action. The game also ties up a few loose ends from P1, but nothing so drastic that you need to play the first game to understand. Of anything the adult version of P1's cast are generally more likable than they were in the first game and a few people ended up getting redeemed for me.Gameplay is typical of many dungeon crawler style games, and I only feel to really talk about it here because most people know the later series style of gameplay more than this one. Characters can equip Personas to change their stats and use the Personas abilities and strengths and weaknesses to customize themselve sin battle. Peronas Rank Up as they are used which allows them to acquire new skills and it also boosts their stats. When a Persona reaches maximum rank, they can be traded back to the Velvet Room for an item. Sometimes when you use a Persona, a Mutation may occur which will either unlock a hidden skill or allow the Persona to evolve into a new form, with several types of Persona only being avilable through this method. Battles are turn based and utilize a new Fusion Spell system in which the order you have characters use their abilites will cause them to combine their power for a more powerful skill. Since most of these fusion spells are tied to the skills and the order they are performed, you are encouraged to keep replacing weak personas with new ones. There are some powerful and unique Fusion Spells tied to specific Personas though. It's a nice system that keeps you upgrading them quickly but allows even weak Personas to stay relevant longer. To say it's a far better and more balanced system than P1 is an understatement. Like the MegaTen series and Persona 1 before it, characters have the option of talking their way out of conflict. In the case of IS, the game expands on P1's version where each character has four unique talking points based on their character traits to try and use on monsters for positive results. IS introduces the idea of team conversations where several characters can be present and create unique conversation pieces or enhance others. For instance, Tatsuya can join up with Eikichi's singing conversation piece by accompaning him with an electric guitar, or Maya and Yukino do a comedy stand up routine together. EP takes this idea and runs with it, which is vastly more fun to play with as it gives you a much better idea of how each character meshes with each other. Katusya the cop, and Baofu the extortionist don't get along due to their conflicting ideas of justice, but it makes a great Good Cop/Bad Cop conversation routine, and later when you learn they both like baseball, you unlock a new one between the two where they are arguing which of their teams is better. It's a really neat way to sneak in some character development without bogging the game's already slow pacing with story scenes.Probably my favorite quirk in the game, and a completionsit nightmare as well is the Rumor system. Rumors come true if they are believed by enough people or simply spread far enough. While this is a major source of conflict in the game, the party can actually use the system to their advantage by using the Kuzunoah detective agency to spread the rumors. You have to come up with a rumor, which somtimes the plot supplies but often requires your characters to visit the various rumormongers around town to learn the local gossip. You can then manipulate these rumors to your benefit. The simplest and most ingenius way this is used is for equipment. As normal high school students or law-abiding citizens living in Japan with it's strict weapon policies, you can spread rumors that cause a local Ramen Shop owner to turn out to be some blackmarket weapon smuggler or make loacl clothing stores start displaying armor as the new fashion. It's a clever way to incorporate standard RPG shops in a modern setting. I think only P5 has ever come close to coming up with something as clever. Rumors go beyonf this though as you can also use the system to help you find rare demosn to battle in order to get items needed for rare persona, and you can even teach specail spells to select personas through the system as well. Hell in IS, gining the ultimate weapons involves spreading rmors of people who have them, which often corresponds wit a cameo from a character in P1, and then spreading a rumor among the demons themselves on how powerful the weapon is. It's time consuming as smurf, but I really love how far the devs took the logic of the game's premise.

    Persona 2:Eternal Punishment was my second MegaTen title and my first Persona game. I ended up playing the game at a very rough time in my life when I needed to make some serious changes. Maya has a catchphrase in the game "Let's Think Positive" which was something I kind of needed at the time. So in addition ot just being a really well thought out game with some serious occult vibes going for it, it's also a game I associate with a time where I was starting to pick myself back up and gain some control over my life. I recommend this game, even if the dungeon design leads a lot to be desired and the game feels ver antiquated by today's standards, P2 is a very clever experiment by Atlus, in fact it was the last game to be developed by the actual MegaTen Team before the current Persona Team was assembled, so the game has this kind of trademark "rough around the edges" feel that I really love in the franchise.

    Coming Up Next: "I won't cry! I won't give them the satisfaction! If I cry...it's like admitting the defeat of our family--defeat to the likes of them! And that's why... that's why I can't cry!"

  12. #372
    Pinkasaurus Rex Cid's Knight Pumpkin's Avatar
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    Ohhhhh I know this next one

  13. #373
    SHAAAAAUN! Scotty_ffgamer's Avatar
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    I still need to play through eternal punishment. I wish we didnít have to stick with the ps1 version as the bit I played kept throwing me off with the differences in names compared to the psp version of Innocent Sin, if I remember right.

  14. #374
    Radical Dreamer Cid's Knight Fynn's Avatar
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    I'm making my way through Eternal Punishment now, and it's actually not that hard to make the transition. The translation is very rough, so that makes things a bit harder, but then again, the battles are much more smoother and more enjoyable, so it evens out.

    Love this duology, btw. And yeah, Innocent Sin is very goofy at most parts, but it's really telling of the writing quality that the story is still overall very dark and emotional and hits you extremely hard by the end.

    Also, Maya is the best person alive and I love her very much.


  15. #375
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    13.When I first started thinking about this list a few years back, I knew this entry would be on here, but I expected it would be in the high 70s. Then when I decided to use the list to go back to do a reassessment on some titles, I found myself pleasantly surprised to see that not only did this game stand up, but was better than I actually remembered it. III has definitely aged a little worse than I had hoped for, but barring the games few issues, I feel the good elements ultimately outweigh those issues. Suikoden V takes place about ten years before the events of Suikoden 1, in the Queendom of Falena, a place that has been blessed by the Sun Rune but cursed with centuries of political infighting within the government. You play as the Prince, the oldest child of Queen Arshtat and her consort and Captain of the Queen's Knights, Ferid. Since leadership passes down through the women and not the men, your character ultimately gets stuck doing boring ambassador duties awaiting the day he'll be married off for some political ties. When the story begins, the Prince and his entourage, including his overprotective bodyguard Lyon, his politically savvy but incredibly lazy aunt Sialeeds, and the newest Queen's Knight Georg Prime, who is a friend from Ferid's past with a very rich military history that spans most of the series; are now returning from such an expedition to get an assessment of the damage done to the town of Lordlake. A few years before the story began, Lordlake had been the center of a rebellion that saw the sacking of a sacred temple and the theft of the Dawn Rune, which is one of the two runes needed to control the Sun Rune. Queen Arshtat ended up taking the Sun Rune upon herself and used it's powers to transform the town into a scorched desert that is barely hanging on and even more resentful of the royal family. Unfortunately, the True Rune the Queen has taken is beginning to warp her mind and giving her a god complex. Because of this, everyone in the palace, including her family are wary of her wrath.To get her mind off the troubles in Lordlake the family prepares for the Sacred Games, a Falena tradition where possible suitors for the future queen wage gladiatorial battles to see who will become the queen's consort and captain of the Queen's Knights. The Prince's little sister has started to come of age and the family is preparing to find out who their future in-law will be. The contest really comes down to which of the two major politically powerful noble houses will win the battle. The Barows family are a wealthy if very scheming faction that wants to play nice with the kingdom's enemies to help line their pockets and they are often accused of being too close to foreign governments. On the other side is the Godwin family, who are hardliners who preach of military conquest and wanting to create a more unified and nationalistic Queendom. These two factions scheming against each other have caused several succession wars within the queendom, including a fairly recent one which resulted in the death of several family members on both sides and the royal family. When the games begin, the Prince comes to learn the harsh truths of the political climate of his country, slavery, xenophobia on all sides, and both families scheming to win the games for the chance to control the government. The games end with a strange upset, and before the family has time to investigate, their enemies strike and the Prince is forced to flee the capital with his aunt. With his sister being controlled by the enemy, the Prince has to try to bring together various factions to form an army to protest the events concerning her marriage. This gets more complicated as the Prince must navigate between various factions who have allegiance to one of the two major political factions, groups who have years of grievances against the royal family, and even attempts by foreign powers to manipulate the war for their own purposes. More than any other entry, I feel like Suikoden V really embodies the complexity of war on a historical level far deeper than previous entries in the series. The plot actually unfolds very slowly and the story paragraph I gave you is a very very abridged version of just the first ten or so hours of the game. The title is a slow grind in the plot department, but it actually winds up being worth it in the end. Especially since a lot of this is to help establish several characters and factions you may not even meet again until 20 to 40 hours later. The cast of the game for the most part is pretty strong, almost as good as Suikoden IIIs and I love how the slow build actually makes some of the major plot twists before the game starts proper have more impact on you. The amount of depth and history that goes on in Falena is a bit more than usual for the series but it helps to make the conflict feel real, and the fact the game let's you really grow to care about the characters makes the tragedy that begins the war have more impact. If I'm going to nail the plot for anything, it would simply be that the villains start off strong and super competent before the take over, and then become incredibly incompetent afterwards, I mean it's like they were trying to piss off everyone after they took over which makes it easier to get the other factions to join your cause. I mean I know Highland kind of did the same thing in Suikoden II, but they were also being controlled by a bloodthristy psychopath who wanted to watch the whole world burn, whereas the villains of this game are more out for their own personal gain which makes their actions seem like political suicide. Also, Lucretia the Tactician is a bit of a Mary Tzu who is trying way too hard to be like Shu from SII without any of his fallable traits that make him a great tactician, but a horrible human being.
    Gameplay-wise, Suikoden V is an amalgamation of several design elements from all the previous entries that combines all of their popular traits. After being missing in action for two numbered entries, V brings back a fully controllable six character party. The main battle system plays like a more fleshed out version of Suikoden II with characters having three possible rune slots. From Suikoden III, the game brings in a new Skill system that is partially better balanced in some way, but still pretty powerful. Characters now only have two skill slots in which they can equip a skill that raises their stats like Attack, Magic Defense, or Technique. You use skill points to level these skills to get better stat gains but you'll soon unlock skills that only take up one slot, but affect multiple stats as long as you've leveled the weaker skills to the appropriate level. This means that by end game you can have a character using both slots to give huge stat boosts across the board. Yet it also follows the smarter choices in SIII, in which there are some unique skills that only certain characters can learn and these skills can never be removed, and not all characters can learn all of these advanced skills. There is actually one skill that only the Prince and one other character can actually learn and the better warriors can learn the most advanced physical skills while the best mages can learn the best magic ones. So the game avoids making you teach everyone everything and becoming clones. From Suikoden IV, the armor sets have returned and thankfully don't require the insane levels of crafting and item farming that made them a pain to acquire in that title. New to the game is party formations, where you can change the party formation to gain stat bonuses but also to gain a special ability that can be used once in battle. These range from special attacks that can wipe out enemies, to special defensive bonuses that block all magic for a round, to even letting the party get a preemptive strike on enemies. With the huge cast and customization options offered, this is a pretty fun game to play around with party configurations. Unite attacks are still here and thankfully the game avoids the earlier games habits of handing you some overpowered party wiping one ridiculously early, so battles don't become quite the chore. If I had to be honest though, SV is hands down the easiest game in the series barring collecting the characters. There are so many broken characters in this game that one of the biggest treats about the final dungeon is that you get to make three parties, allowing you to use most of them. There is one character named Ernst, who has such a broken rune, that if you combine him with the Formation that gives you a preemptive strike, you can effectively beat every boss in the game once he joins without every getting hit, and you don't even need to resort to that rune because characters like Belcoot, the two Maximilian Knights, Richard, Viki, and Zerase are all game breakers in their own rights. Georg Prime is so overpowered that not only is he usually taken out of your party for large chunks of the game for plot reasons, but even with the fact one of his skill slots is permanently filled with a non-combat skill he is still game breaker enough that the devs won't let you use him for the final battle until NG+. I didn't really understand until I watched the guy activate two of his special unique abilities and his runes special skill, only to proceed in battle by one-shotting the boss and cause five digit damage, in a series where doing 2500 damage is enough to call you overpowered. So yeah...On the flip side, Duels have been overhauled. They retain the same setup as the previous game but now have a timer forcing you to make more quick decisions. Like the previous games, the duels utilize motion capture but have more of a wir-fu quality to them. The Prince is a pretty brutal fighter I might add. My favorite new addition is the War Battles, which work like Suikoden II where you build calvary, infantry, or mage units, but now expanded with water battles involving ramming ships, archery ships, and troop ships. It now uses the rock/paper/scissors approach to damage algorithms over whatever moon;ogic algorithms SII was using, and the battles are all Real Time Strategy so you have to stay on your toes so you don't get outflanked and watch your troops get slaughtered. This is easily my favorite war battle system in the series and offer some of the biggest gameplay challenges in the game. Well until you learn that the Beavers are the Navy SEALS of all aquatic battles. Another, and often underappreciated element I liked about the game was that it continued to utilize a trandiotnal world map/town/dungeon set-up which was being really fazed out around this time as games were transitioning to more realistic scaled maps. In fact, with the exception of maybe a few obscure RPG titles here and there, I have a hard time thinking of another RPG on the PS2 released after 2006 that had a classic world map.
    Of course the real challenge of these games isn't combat or dungeon crawling, it's acquiring all of the 108 Stars of Destiny and SV might be one of the most difficult. Part of this is due to the fact that several characters actually have multiple methods to get them to join and the easiest solutions are often the easiest to screw up. Oboro the Detective is a good example. You need to hire him in the early game to investigate the Barows family and their connection to the Lordlake Rebellion, You're told to hire him and then go home, but if you travel to a certain town, you can team up with Oboro to help him with the investigation. Doing so allows you to recruit him at the first possible chance you can offer him. If you missed this, you have to ask him after every major story event and hope the RNG let's him, otherwise you have to wait until almost the end of the game and since he's the character you use to find the other characters and learn background information, you want him ASAP. Another character involves winning a war battle with overwhelming victory and then asking him while you have young cute girls in your party cause he's kind of a lech.If you don't, he won't join until your over halfway through the game and he feels you have a chance of winning the war. So yeah, it gets really challenging without a guide to recruit everyone.It's kind of interesting how similar this game is to another game on this list, Final Fantasy IX. Both games actually started off as Gaiden games and then got turned into numbered entries. Both games were also designed with the intention of being a celebration of the series with numerous shout outs and fan service to the series. Both games are also criticized for awful load times. Sadly, Suikoden V could not escape the series various curses such as low production values which get annoying when you realize the same company makes Silent Hill and Metal Gear Sold. The other curse being the games always being released around the same time of a more high profile and generally better produced game by Square-Enix. Suikoden II was released the same month as FFVIII, Suikoden III was released just a few months before the hotly anticipated FFX, SIV missed holiday and was released after DQVIII, an SV was released the same smurfing week in the States as Kingdom Hearts II. None of this is helped by the fact the series rarely got much advertising from Konami, permanently pigeonholing the franchise into cult status. It's a real shame because after the lackluster SIV, V turned out to be a fine addition to the franchise despite the handicaps but it was too late and it remains the last installment of the major story arc the series had been building up until this point. Still, if you're franchise is going to go out, I like the fact Suikoden V ends it with abang before the inevitable whimper of the gaiden titles. Although the game is kind of hard to come by now, I honestly feel it's a pretty good gateway entry into the series, though you will miss half of the references to the franchise.

    Coming Up Next: Some mountains are scaled, others are slain...

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