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

  1. #496
    Ghost of Christmas' past Recognized Member theundeadhero's Avatar
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    I was a bit surprised The Simpsons arcade game wasn't on the list. When I think of the great arcade games, X-Men, TMNT, and Simpsons are always on there, and you included the other two. Maybe you just didn't play it much.

    It was also surprising Mass Effect was so close to 100, and that the other two games weren't on the list.

    I also expected FFVII to be on the list. As much of a hard time as I give the game, it would be on mine somewhere.

    Super Mario Bros. 2 being on the list was a pretty big surprise.

    Since you've made the list, I replayed Shadow of the Colossus and actually finished it this time. It had been about a decade since my last attempt, and I wanted to see if now that I'm older I might get more out of the game. I can see the appeal but it just doesn't do much for me.

    It also made me want to replay through the MGS series in order, minus 5. I have one sit-down left to finish 3 and then I'll move on to the original title.
    ...

  2. #497
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    Metal Gear Solid 3 and Chrono Trigger are both examples of games I played at the wrong time. In MGS3's case I had played it RIGHT after 1 and 2, so I was overwhelmed by the complete gameplay overhaul and was scared off. Fortunately, I lost a bet with a friend and I had to play through the game at least once, even if it was on Very Easy. So I plowed through the game with the EZ Gun, knowing I was depriving myself of the experience, but not really caring, and I don't think it really hit me how fun the game was until reaching Grozynj Grad. Upon beating the game, I immediately reloaded the game to play on normal. MGS3 is definitely the height of the series; the added complexity that had originally scared me off is one of its biggest draws, to say nothing of the level design! The one problem I have with every game to follow is the addition of a "shop" feature of one kind or another; there was a genuine sense of excitement exploring the jungles of Russia (?) and finding a powerful gun, or the crocodile hat. One of my biggest disappointments with MGSV is the extent to which I had to rely on Mother Base to progress. Ironically, Breath of the Wild feels more like the open world MGS3 I wanted than MGSV.

    Chrono Trigger's time is coming. When I first played it, it was, unfortunately, the PS1 version. I feel like I could stop there, but it doesn't help that I was also feeling burnout from playing Final Fantasy throughout Middle School and High School. I also bought the DS version to play for a school trip, but at that point, I recall forcing myself to play the game because it was Chrono friggin' Trigger, and not because I was ready to play it. Additionally, despite the improved translation (imo. Sorry Woolsey, I still love your take on FFVI) and simpler UI, Chrono Trigger feels like such a console experience, I felt like I was missing something by NOT playing it on a TV while sitting on my couch (had a similar experience with A Link to the Past, which has since become tied with Majora as my favorite Zelda). Essentially what I'm getting at is I hope the Switch's Virtual Console library explodes soon (that, or I can get a SNES Classic and mod it to include CT).
    Returners Represent!

  3. #498
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fynn View Post
    Birth by Sleep!
    BbS suffers from just enough issues to fall short of the list for me. Like many of SE's endeavors for the PSP, I just felt like the game deserved to be on better hardware and building the worlds to spec on even the PS2 could have saved the game from some of the more tedious retread of the scenario. My other issue is that along with KH2, BbS is sort of where I decided that I had indulged Nomura's battrout insane plot for the series enough. Dream Drop Distance killed my interest in the series but Ventus' plot thread along with all the bombshells from KH2 was already sending me there. With all that said, I did quite enjoy Aqua's story and Terra's was pretty good if a bit too predictable since I had kind of guessed he was the "Xehanort" from the earlier games once they showed his actual face. KH has always been a guilty pleasure of mine but not one I've ever taken as serious as some other titles.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bubba View Post
    I thought maybe Alundra? Underrated, but awesome. It would make my top 100
    I missed out on Alundra, but it is a title I've been interested in for awhile. I actually made a thread a few months ago where I asked people what game I should pick up from PSN and it was a title I listed but it didn't get as much love as the other entries.

    Quote Originally Posted by Psychotic View Post
    I smurfing love Chrono Trigger and indeed I love all three games in your top 3.

    I don't know your opinion on the Persona series at all, so Fynn will no doubt come out and shout at me "omg of course WK doesn't love Persona 4!" but that's a title I've heard a lot of things about and thought it might be up there.

    FFVII, of course! But for real, not ironically. I knew that it would not be in your top ten, but my perception was that you think it gets too much attention compared to its siblings but it was still up there as a great FF. I thought perhaps it could've been in the 70's to 100.
    Okay, so P4 was a bit of a surprise for me too, and I think it was on the list but as I added games to it, it kept slipping lower and lower. Unlike the rest of the series, P4 has been an entry I've never really wanted to go back to after finishing it. I've played P3 a few more times since finishing P4, so the game never really grabbed me like it did other people and I kind of blame it on the fact that not only is the game kind of a poor mystery story, but the lack of drama among the cast didn't help either. Of anything, P4 felt so much like a "young people" game to me. Like I can feel for Kanji and the other people for their problems but it never really stopped me from always kind of chuckling to myself and thinking how much their issues felt more like high school problems to me. The bigger issues I had with the game was the awful gameplay decisions like adding an extra step to knocking down enemies, completely trivializing defensive gameplay options in favor of all out offense, how unbalanced the party felt, the dungeons going back to P2's borefest and the fact that money was a pain in the ass to accumulate in the game cause they opted for a loot system. I've been meaning to go through it again to see if my mind would change on it but it sadly doesn't take much to talk me out of it.

    As for the great big pink elephant in the room, I did not snub VII to be edgy, and if my list had been built on pure objective principles, it would have made it to this list easily because I do feel VII has a lot of strong merits. The issue it came down to is that I don't have a lot of good memories or feelings about this game. It's not a title where thinking about the opening gives me a warm tingling feeling inside like some other titles on this list. I don't have any real nostalgia for it. Part of that is due to the fact that I did walk away from the game disappointed after my initial playthrough, an even larger part is the fact that when I think of VII, my first thought is just tiresome arguments I've had with fans over the years and while I've come around on my feelings about the game, this feeling of exhausted dread is my usual reaction to talking about it. So yeah, a lot of my issues is the fanbase in my past killed my enjoyment for it. I do still get moments of wanting to play it and stuff, but the game frankly doesn't do anything for me despite being an objectively good game.

    Quote Originally Posted by theundeadhero View Post
    I was a bit surprised The Simpsons arcade game wasn't on the list. When I think of the great arcade games, X-Men, TMNT, and Simpsons are always on there, and you included the other two. Maybe you just didn't play it much.

    It was also surprising Mass Effect was so close to 100, and that the other two games weren't on the list.

    I also expected FFVII to be on the list. As much of a hard time as I give the game, it would be on mine somewhere.

    Super Mario Bros. 2 being on the list was a pretty big surprise.

    Since you've made the list, I replayed Shadow of the Colossus and actually finished it this time. It had been about a decade since my last attempt, and I wanted to see if now that I'm older I might get more out of the game. I can see the appeal but it just doesn't do much for me.

    It also made me want to replay through the MGS series in order, minus 5. I have one sit-down left to finish 3 and then I'll move on to the original title.
    Funny story about the Simpsons arcade, my first job had the machine and I eventually just grew sick and tired (along with the rest of the staff) listening to the machine run that we eventually shut it down. I do like the game, but by the time it started popping up more in the arcade scene, I was getting more invested in console gaming, platforms and the budding fighting game scene.

    Part of the issue with Mass Effect was the fact the games got less interesting as the series went on, and the heavier Third Persona shooter focus and the heavy streamlining of the non-dialogue option RPG elements made plaything through the later games more of a chore for me since I'm not really big into shooter type games. I liked the characters and setting, but not enough to debate whether I would name my kids Garrus or Tali. The other issue is that the games were competing with entries I was very familiar with, whereas ME is something I've only played through once, and I have too many unplayed titles to convince myself to give the series a second run. Hell, I was so burnt out from ME2 that it took me about two years to get around to playing ME3. The gameplay though is the largest factor because while I love the dialogue choices, the heavy shooter combat and the general lack of real exploration in the sequels kind of killed my interest in the franchise. It's why I use the analogy of ME1 feeling like a novel while the sequels felt like streamlined action film adaptions of the rest of the story.

    Quote Originally Posted by Edge7 View Post
    Metal Gear Solid 3 and Chrono Trigger are both examples of games I played at the wrong time. In MGS3's case I had played it RIGHT after 1 and 2, so I was overwhelmed by the complete gameplay overhaul and was scared off. Fortunately, I lost a bet with a friend and I had to play through the game at least once, even if it was on Very Easy. So I plowed through the game with the EZ Gun, knowing I was depriving myself of the experience, but not really caring, and I don't think it really hit me how fun the game was until reaching Grozynj Grad. Upon beating the game, I immediately reloaded the game to play on normal. MGS3 is definitely the height of the series; the added complexity that had originally scared me off is one of its biggest draws, to say nothing of the level design! The one problem I have with every game to follow is the addition of a "shop" feature of one kind or another; there was a genuine sense of excitement exploring the jungles of Russia (?) and finding a powerful gun, or the crocodile hat. One of my biggest disappointments with MGSV is the extent to which I had to rely on Mother Base to progress. Ironically, Breath of the Wild feels more like the open world MGS3 I wanted than MGSV.

    Chrono Trigger's time is coming. When I first played it, it was, unfortunately, the PS1 version. I feel like I could stop there, but it doesn't help that I was also feeling burnout from playing Final Fantasy throughout Middle School and High School. I also bought the DS version to play for a school trip, but at that point, I recall forcing myself to play the game because it was Chrono friggin' Trigger, and not because I was ready to play it. Additionally, despite the improved translation (imo. Sorry Woolsey, I still love your take on FFVI) and simpler UI, Chrono Trigger feels like such a console experience, I felt like I was missing something by NOT playing it on a TV while sitting on my couch (had a similar experience with A Link to the Past, which has since become tied with Majora as my favorite Zelda). Essentially what I'm getting at is I hope the Switch's Virtual Console library explodes soon (that, or I can get a SNES Classic and mod it to include CT).
    Glad you got into MGS3 eventually, I love this game as you can tell. I can get behind your feelings about CT and not only that feeling it's a console title, which is an issue I have with the DS version as well, but also just having bad timing with a game.

  4. #499
    Witch of Theatergoing Karifean's Avatar
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    I mean, there's a distinct lack of VNs on this list, but I know the reason for that <.<

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    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karifean View Post
    I mean, there's a distinct lack of VNs on this list, but I know the reason for that <.<
    I have just not gotten around to it. That and I don't want to put anymore wood on the fire, though I did put one of your recommendations on my Steam wish-list.

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    CT actually took the open ended sequence of the third act which Secret of Mana and FFVI had developed and finally perfected it in a way that combines the freedom to play the game at your own pace while also maintaining
    I want to know how this sentence ends, Wolf.
    My friend Delzethin is currently running a GoFundMe account to pay for some extended medical troubles he's had. He's had chronic issues and lifetime troubles that have really crippled his career opportunities, and he's trying to get enough funding to get back to a stable medical situation. If you like his content, please support his GoFundMe, or even just contribute to his Patreon.

    He can really use a hand with this, and any support you can offer is appreciated.

  7. #502
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skyblade View Post
    CT actually took the open ended sequence of the third act which Secret of Mana and FFVI had developed and finally perfected it in a way that combines the freedom to play the game at your own pace while also maintaining
    I want to know how this sentence ends, Wolf.
    Missed that when I did the quick skim. I finished it now for you.

  8. #503
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    So I'm going back through this list and doing a bit of editing and fixing some spelling and grammatical errors. I'm not going to bother changing the order, but I do want to expand a few entries here and there, which I'll mark as updated on the first post. If there is any entry anyone wishes I would discuss more in-depth, feel free to reply, but at this moment it will be kind of random which ones I plan to add more to. Have fun.

  9. #504
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    Well since I have some spare time, I've been revisiting this list and updating a few entries I was either unhappy with the original script or simply came up with more things to say. I don't normally like resurrecting old threads, but this one has been a little personal for me as it serves as a bit of a gaming journal. Anyway, since we all have some major free time, I figured now would be a good time to plug some of these changes. I've actually been debating on adding a few entries onto this list like I've been discussing with my Blog. I really want to add Demon's Souls and possibly a few other entries I've recently played into the mix, so perhaps stay tuned.

  10. #505
     Master of the Fork Cid's Knight Freya's Avatar
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    Look forward to it WK!

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    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    #101
    A few years ago, I finally took the plunge into the SaGa franchise which I had always been interested in, but just either never had the time or means to play the series. So I jumped in by going through both Final Fantasy Legend, Romancing SaGa, and SaGa Frontier 2. While there were certainly some growing pains in these experiences, I feel I was able to come out on the other end of it and found myself another franchise I really appreciate. So the fact my timing coincided with the release of Romancing SaGa 2 was perfect, especially since I really liked the game's general premise and after playing through the experimental but kind of frustrating RS1, I feel I was able to really see this game as the triumphant "a-ha" moment it really was for the series.
    Romancing SaGa 2 begins in a bar, where a Minstrel (the mascot of the series) begins to regale the patrons with an epic poem about the Avalon Empire and the family that faced off with the Seven Heroes. Long ago in the ancient past, the world was plagued by the forces of darkness. Monsters and demons terrorized the world and nearly brought it to the edge of collapse until seven heroes rose up and stopped the encroaching darkness. They disappeared during the final struggle but swore they would return, and thus they fell into legend. In the years before the game begins, the monster populations have begun to surge and it seems a new army of darkness is rising to inflict pain and misery to the general population. Emperor Leon is investigating one of these uprisings as monsters have overtaken a local mine. He and his entourage, including his weak but scholastically inclined youngest son Gerad, are able to purge the mines of the monsters. They return home after the excursion and we meet Victor, Gerad's older brother and next in line to the throne who teases his weaker brother while the king ruminates about the trouble within his kingdom. The King is approached by a seer with an ominous fortune that disturb him. He takes Gerad with him, while leaving Victor in charge of the capital, so he can investigate another monster disturbance. When they return, they find the capital razed and Victor on the brink of death. He had failed to protect the land from Kzinssie, one of the Seven Heroes, who was leading the monster horde and had now set up shop in the town of Somon. Leon has his men find the Seer Orieve who had spoken to him earlier and the following day, he and Gerad march on Somon to avenge Victor. Instead the battle turns south and Leon is struck down by Kzinssie's Soulsteal technique. Forlorn, Gerad speaks to his father on his death bed where Leon reveals that his death had been planned and tells his son of his gambit to save both Avalon and the world. Orieve had taught Leon the forbidden technique of Inheritance, which would allow him to transfer his strength and knowledge to his heir including the Inheritance power itself, in hopes that Gerad or some future member of their house will eventually grow powerful enough to stop the monstrously powerful Seven Heroes. Receiving his father's strength, including his knowledge of how to avoid the Soulsteal that claimed his father and brother's life, Gerad returns to Somon to challenge Kzinssie and this time defeats him. Vowing to fulfill his father's will, Gerad begins a dynasty of expanding his kingdom into a mighty empire that would be able to stand against the Seven Heroes one day, up until the day the Final Ruler is born who will have the accumulated knowledge, skill, and resources of generations.
    You now begin the game proper as Gerad, now sporting his iconic Golden Armor and explore the world around you, aiding villages and other kingdoms of their troubles in exchange for their fealty to Avalon. Slowly growing the empire which can then research new magics, professions, and weapons used in the Empire's mission to defeat the legendary Seven Heroes. Completing these quests will make time pass and eventually a ruler's time frame will end, at which point the player chooses the class and gender of Gerad's heir and begin in a new era where more of the world has opened up. This cycle of moving on from heir to heir continues until you reach the time of the Final Ruler (either an Emperor or Empress which you choose and name at the game's beginning) and have the final showdown with the Seven Heroes. Throughout this time frame you will encounter said heroes and try to stop them from achieving their goals. There are other troubles going on in the world such as an succession conflict in a neighboring kingdom, a horde of pirates pillaging local towns, an island village on the verge of destruction from their local volcano, and many more. As you leap through the eras, the world will change as you witness towns grow and prosper as well as expanding your capital from a small kingdom to the center of a mighty empire that controls the whole globe. Expanding the empire allows you to gain more tribute in gold which can then be used to research new weapons and armor, or to build new structures in your capital like a university to unlock the Tactician Class, or a magic research institute to expand your spell selection. Many of the regions offer new classes that will happily join the cause and expand your fighting foray.
    RS2 is the most influential title mechanically speaking of all the SaGa titles I've played as it introduces two of the series most infamous mechanics: Life Points and Sparking (Waza) Techs. What I find interesting is that much like Persona 3's Social Link system, coming back to the source of the concept shows how intuitive it really is whereas the later installments largely kept them on as a legacy element. Characters have HP and LP, when HP is depleted to zero, a character is knocked out and loses one LP. There is only one way to restore LP in the game which involves buying an expensive potion from an NPC that unlocks later in the game. Downed allies can still be targeted in battle and will lose additional LP every time they are hit. When LP is depleted to zero, that character is permanently killed. If the Chosen Heir loses all of their LP then they will choose a successor among the party to take their place. If the whole party gets knocked out in a fight, they are all killed and the game makes you choose a new heir. Heirs are four randomly selected classes and gender, which will even include monster classes as well. LP makes so much sense in this entry as it plays up the generational aspect of the game. What I like about LP is that it balances out the fact your party's health is fully restored after battle, lending a real sense weight to failure while still being very generous in the player's favor. This gets really tough when you reach the Final Heir's era where losing all the LP for your chosen heir is a game over.
    Waza or Sparking/Glimmer in more recent translations is the mechanic concerning learning new techs. When a character attacks with their weapon or using certain moves, they may get a eureka moments that shows itself as a light-bulb above their head and unlock a new skill for themselves. Skills are dependent on the weapon the character is currently using. These skills can range from defensive parry skills, knocking opponents down to make them lose their turn, or powerful attacks that will be needed to take down the game's powerful bosses. Once a skill is learned, assuming you don't reset, it is permanent for that character, and will be placed in the Skill Books back in Avalon the following generation so it can be passed down to future characters. Even if the character permanently dies from losing all their LPs their skills will transfer to future generations. While I know a lot of people hate the idea of abilities being tied to RNG, I appreciate the fact the skills can be permanently used, but more importantly, I like how they make all battles feel more rewarding. Nothing really beats the feeling of getting into a fight with a trash mob only to have a character spark a really useful skill. Even if you've fought the fight a dozen times, that one battle now feels super rewarding. Course one of the many things the game doesn't tell you is how this mechanic works. While every class has the potential to spark any move in the game as long as they are using the correct weapon, certain classes have higher sparking potential than others. Obvious ones are Rangers being able to spark Bow moves more frequently, and Martial Artist sparking Melee options. Other classes can be really tricky though such as Crusaders where depending on the gender and specific character, they can either be a Club specialist or sword specialist, as well as having talent with certain magics while others are completely inept. Swords are very tricky as there are a few different Spark Classes for them, so even getting something like a sword specialist Samurai doesn't guarantee you'll unlock ever sword skill because some skills can only be acquired through a sword generalist spark type which are found with the Heavy Infantry or Desert Bandit classes. So you need to experiment a lot. Some skills also have a higher chance of sparking by using their lower tier equivalents. The power Arrow Rain skill has a higher chance of sparking if you abuse the Random Arrow attack for instance. Some skills are also tied to specific weapons, and thankfully, unlike RS1, sparking the skill with that weapon will make it permanently available to whoever is equipped with it. Many of these techs are some of the boss skills and both of the unique swords the final heirs have come with a pretty snazzy skill attached to them.
    One of the cooler aspects about quests, and something unique to SaGa in general among SE JRPGs is how a lot of the quests have an optional way to deal with them. Early in the game, you have a massive enemy fortress you have to topple in order to liberate your continent from the Seven Heroes control. The fortress is heavily fortified and one giant maze. You can simply try to take the fortress by force, though considering how early this happens in the game, you might not be strong enough to survive the grueling war of attrition its going to put you through. If you unlocked the Thief class by this point, you can call in a favor with Thieves Guild to have one of them scout the place out, which leads them to not only find a secret entrance into the place, but they leave you a direct path to the boss room as well since taking them out will end the quest. There are a lot of little touches like this throughout the game which increases both the replay value but also makes the scenarios memorable. Unlocking the Martial Artist class was interesting for example. In the game, the Temple where they are from are local protectors of the region, but a certain monster appeared in the cave who is impervious to melee attacks, so they can no longer stop the monsters from breeding and causing problems for the local villages. Disgraced, they hire you to beat this monster for them so they can finally purge the rest of the monster nest. You must beat this monster to finish the quest, but if you choose to clear out the whole cave for the monks instead of reporting back to them after you beat the Slime, they'll feel insulted and refuse to join your cause. The Pirate class has a similar drama where you'll placate them one generation through diplomacy, only for them to rebel against you in a later generation and force you to come in and subjugate them through force, though its also possible to avoid this whole scenario if you just subjugate them from the onset. I also appreciate how some quests give a more humanistic touch to your player avatar heir. Like there is a quest in the game where your emperor falls in love with a mermaid and chooses love over their noble duty. Consequently, you need to do this quest to unlock the Nerid class. The quest that involves unlocking Dark Magic involves your heir making a terrible decision that will cost you both territory and a class in exchange for the power. In restitution, the heir will abdicate their throne. These little touches give the game some interesting ideas to chew on.
    The Seven Heroes are a bit like this as well cause your actions and neglecting certain quests can lead them to becoming even more powerful. The siblings Noel and Rocbouquet will receive a power upgrade depending on which one is killed first (tip for new players, kill Noel first since Rocbouquet can be cheesed way easier, whereas Noel is one of the tougher boss fights in the game) while Subier will become more powerful depending on whether or not you saved the Baby Narwhale, or how Dantarg will grow stronger the longer you wait around to killing him, becoming a really tough opponent if you save him for last to tackle. This combination of freedom, optional ways to tackle issues, and open flow of the game makes if one of the best open world style games I've played and I'm honestly looking forward to the next time I decide to tackle the game.
    One other area I give this game props for is having some of the best villains in the series for me. SaGa is always a bit weird with villains, preferring to give more lip service to villain of the week characters who show up in one time quests over giving screen time to the overarching villains. The Seven Heroes are an interesting and tragic group of figures who strike a nice balance of being personable on some level, but still despicable at the same time. While they are not nearly as fleshed out and as engaging as most FF villains, among the SaGa series I've played, you can tell a little more effort was put into expanding their presence within the game. One of my biggest gripe in RS1's narrative is how Saruin is sort of a non-entity among the plot. He's foretold of his return in the opening, and you do battle a few of his faceless servants towards the end, but he kind of comes across more like Cloud of Darkness or Necron of just being some token great evil that pops up out of nowhere by the games end. There isn't really a build up to him. The Seven Heroes on the other hand are fought throughout the generation, and each of them is causing trouble in different regions of the world, so they have more of a presence in the narrative. While the game has many minor villains, it never lets you forget how the Seven are the greater scope villain. Likewise, it was nice that one of the last quests you undertake in the final heirs era is one that explains who the Seven Heroes were, and why they fell to darkness. Gives them a tragic edge before you go off to face one of the most nerve wracking fights in the series behind the Egg from SaGa Frontier 2.Now if I was going to tell you where this game falls short, it would be the series long tradition of poor communication with he player. SaGa games are challenging for sure, its not a series where you can just level your way out of a problem, but what really makes it a frustrating franchise is the fact every entry runs on some very complex rules that the game purposely fails to communicate with you the player. I've already mentioned the fact how Classes in this game all have different spark types, and while some of it falls into common sense practice, others like how trying to spark every sword skill in the game will involve playing around with four or five different classes is not so easy to figure. Probably the two biggest offenders in the game is equipment (series tradition actually) and Global Levels which is something fans figured out and the game refuses to acknowledge despite being the most important stat in the game. Equipment is self explanatory and as I've said, its a series tradition as every entry I've played down to the Game Boy entries fail to give you any detailed knowledge of what equipment actually does. In RS2's case, the defense stat your shown only details the armors defense against Slash style damage. It fails to tell you if the equipment is good against Pierce or Blunt damage, making it impossible to figure out how to best optimize your team without an equipment guide of which there are precious few good ones online. There are accessories that protect from certain elements but will not tell you, or maybe the description says it protects from ailments, but fails to tell you which ones. The biggest flaw of the remaster on current consoles was not addressing this issue. The game pretty much just upscaled the old menu system and failed to really give you details on your party's stats and the full extent of what gear can do. Again, I would point out that every entry is guilty of this and thankfully it is not quite as detrimental as it was in SF2. Global Levels are the other fact at play here, and while its annoying the game never gives you a direct source to tell where they are, at least its easy to make guesswork on it based on the stats of new party members when you jump a generation. Global levels are a separate hidden level you build up as you play with your active team. They grow a bit slower because I believe they are based on a party average, so even if you have one exceptional character with a high stat in one weapon or magic type, the Global Level may be a bit lower overall. So basically as your party levels up their weapons and magic, this global level takes this average and uses it to roll the stats of the next generation you'll use. Its not based on classes so that unlocking new classes you've never used before means they will still be viable for early recruitment. Which is something I really wish the Tactics Ogre remaster had taken into account. So basically, if you use a lot of sword users in a playthrough and they level up their skills to between 8-10, the next generation sword users will also start at that level. The reason why GL is so important though is how its tied to magic. While you are free to recruit anyone of the five starting magic schools from the beginning, they will not be able to learn new spells until you build a magic research facility and evne then, the spells available are based on the Global Level, not the Mages level. It is possible to raise the GL and acquire new magic within a generation, but you'll find that you'll have to grind more for that character. Fusion Magic also doesn't unlock until both spell types reach a specific level for the first spells, and then a second level for their final spells. These levels are about 15 and 25 respectively. You'll need to reach a global level of about 30 in every magic type to unlock the final tier spells. Magic is incredibly useful by the end game when you're mostly down to fighting the Seven Heroes and spells like Reviver, Gilden Shield, and Hasten Time can spell the difference between life and death. Overall though, I appreciate the leap that RS2 was over its predecessor. While it may be playing a party mostly of mostly blank slates as opposed to the games sandwiched between that use established characters, it keeps the focus on the plot better by having an engaging antagonist and a clearer goal that isn't simply bookend in the plot. While I consider RS1's even mechanics a scrappy mechanic overall that discourages grinding, RS2 presents it in a way that makes more logical sense and is incredibly generous in time, making it significantly easier to see most of the scenarios on a first playthrough. RS1's skill system was an interesting step up from the GB entries, but again, it had some really counter-intuitive design. Sparking works as a nice compromise that keeps battles exciting while maintaining the series tradition of using weapon specializations for party builds. The game keeps on the dual monetary systems, but doesn't punish you for having too much with the silly Gem mechanic. I appreciate the fact the game built a real Formation system where the class of your heir can unlock special party formations that conifer extra bonuses in battle and further help your strategize. The game is overall just a more polished experience over its predecessor, and from what I've played of later entries. It still feels more polished than those.

    I feel the thing I love the most about this game was how it really dragged me back to my childhood and how I would approach old RPGs with limited graphics and such. I started writing my own scenarios for each of my heirs. Which by the way, Empress Beaver the Thief was by far one of my most successful monarchs who quelled the pirates and stopped a succession war. She also built both the Magic Research Facility and the University. Only my Crusader Empress did more in her lifetime by felling three of the Seven Heroes. This really hits you in the games ending where it will do a montage of all of your successors and detail their legacies for Avalon. So it was kind of neat for me to sort of write out my own ideas of what their journeys were like and who they were. So I really appreciate the fact it garnered a sense of using my own imagination to fill in the blanks. I play a lot of retro games, but not all of them do this for me. While I can't promise this game is for everyone, I do feel that fans of old school RPGs owe it to themselves to check this game out if they haven't already.


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    Radical Dreamer Fynn's Avatar
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    I need to restart this since I loved it immensely but put it aside for external reasons

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    Ghost of Christmas' past Recognized Member theundeadhero's Avatar
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    The whole series has always been something that looked like it might be interesting to try, just not now. Maybe someday. So far someday never came, but it might. Someday.
    ...

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    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theundeadhero View Post
    The whole series has always been something that looked like it might be interesting to try, just not now. Maybe someday. So far someday never came, but it might. Someday.
    That's how I was with the series as well, but then "someday" finally came and now I can say I'm hooked.

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    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    #102

    I'm going to say right now that while I'm not going to really try to re-rank my list, this entry deserves to be much higher than it is. It just had the misfortune of me playing it long after I made my list. Last year, Konami released a Castlevania Collection that contained almost every Classicvania entry barring Rondo of Blood, the arcade port of Castlevania 1, and the remake of Castlevania 1 as well. I picked it up cause finding these games is a pain in the ass and I enjoy the older entries as much as the Metroidvania style games as well. It was a nice history lesson to go through the franchise in order and I was pleasantly surprised most of the time. This game especially ended up being the highlight of the whole collection.
    Castlevania 3: Dracula's Curse is a prequel to the first two Castlevania games, detailing the story of Simon's famous ancestor he was trying to live up to, Trevor Belmont (Ralph in the Japanese version), the first Belmont to ever defeat Dracula. Long ago in Wallachia, the Belmont's rose to fame for their expertise in slaying all the things that go bump in the night. Yet like a lot of times in history when a particular family grows a little too influential and popular with the people, it rubs some people the wrong way, and soon they started spreading rumors that the Belmont's were actually in league with the dark forces they hunt. The people turned on them and had them ex-communicated and exiled from their lands. Sometime later, Dracula came upon the land and began spreading terror. Some forces did try to stop him but were defeated or worse. With no other options, the local governments sent for Trevor Belmont, the last living member of the disgraced Belmont clan, to come back to Wallachia and help rid them of Dracula once and for all. Trevor begins a journey across the lands ruled by Dracula's forces to stop the Count, but over the course of his journey, he picks up some help in the form of a Pirate named Grant DeNasty, a Witch turned Monster Hunter named Sypha, and Dracula's own son Alucard.
    Dracula's Curse is an interesting game and bears a lot of similarities to another entry on this list: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Both games are the third entry in their series, both are prequels, both act as a form of "returning to basics" by largely heralding to a design reminiscent of their more successful first installment, and both also cleverly still incorporate a lot of elements from their more RPG and panned second installments. Well to honest, Dracula's Curse wasn't the actual first return to norm for the series. That would be Castlevania Adventure, but considering no one likes to count handheld entries, this one is close enough. The game returns to a level system, as opposed to the awkward open world format from Simon's Quest. Yet the devs really didn't want to lose that idea of exploration so they introduced branching level design. At certain point in the game, you are asked to take a high or low road, which will take you to a different dungeons and will radically change your overall journey depending on which way you go. This design idea would be incorporated into Rondo of Blood years later, which is the first proper sequel to Dracula's Curse if you don't count Bloodlines. With nine stages total for one journey, two possible routes, and two secret stages to recruit Sylpha and Alucard, Dracula's Curse has about twenty stages total, Castlevania 3 is significantly larger than its predecessor. The alternate stages and the framing device of the plot being Trevor's journey and infiltration into Dracula's Castle allows the game to retain the fun player-centric control of the journey that Simon's Quest tried to invoke, but also allow for the tighter designed stages that made the original game such a classic. Maybe you went through the graveyard and picked up Sypha, which allowed you to take the Ghost Ship across the bay and land midway on Dracula's bridge. Perhaps you took the underground cave system and eventually found Alucard who leads you through a hidden underground entrance into the castle? The game has so many options you almost have to play it multiple times to actually see and play everything. Hell you even get a unique ending depending on who your ally for the game is.
    This nicely segues into the game biggest change from the rest of the series. You can actually recruit allies who all have different strengths and weaknesses. You're only allowed to have one extra party member at a time so recruiting new characters usually makes the previous member leave. Sypha and Alucard are also route exclusive, which makes the TV series the more amusing when you think that those two never met in the game. Trevor plays like a carbon copy of Simon Belmont, but he's also the most well rounded of the four characters and gets the most options with sub-weapons. Grant is the first character you'll likely recruit and comes with the most mobility of the party. He's faster than Trevor, can jump twice as high as anyone else. He can climb walls and ceilings as well. His issue is that his attack range is incredibly short since he uses a knife (he throws them in the Japanese version) and he takes more damage than Trevor does. He does get to use the awesome Axe weapon though. He's great for traversing levels and there are tons of extra lives and Shot Upgrades only he can access. Hell entire stages have alternate routes that only he can get through painlessly. He might not be much of a help in boss fights but he makes clearing the masochistic level design easier. Sypha is a bit of an opposite from other characters. She gains original sub-weapons that serve as her magic. She has a Fire ball spell that works like a short range flamethrower. Its fast, but not as powerful as I would like but is very effective in certain situations like the Mummy Boss. Her second spell is an ice spell that will actually freeze enemies in place and let her use them as platforms, even cooler is that the spell will actually freeze running water in some stages, super neat. Her final, and most rare spell is a lightning spell where she fires off three homing balls of lighting that are one of the strongest attacks in the game. Great for dealing with annoying enemies that like to swoop in from awkward directions and for putting the hurt on bosses. In fact Sypha makes short work of most of the bosses in the game, even Death goes from being an annoying pain in the ass into a blip. Dracula himself is a cakewalk if you go in with the Bolt Spell. To balance this, Sypha takes more damage than most characters from attacks and her movement range is pretty poor. She is also the most dependent on sub-weapons and her normal attack is a short range staff that is weak but can actually hit things at an angle. Finally we have Alucard, most players may be imagining the badass from SotN, but in his debut entry, he's pretty terrible. His main attack is a single fireball he trows that has pitiful range and when powered up, it fires three from different angles. Again, great for awkward enemies but his attack is fairly weak unless all three fireballs connect which places him in the danger zone. His only sub-weapon he can use is the Stopwatch, which is a notoriously bad item in the early installments. He's also slightly taller than the rest of the cast making it much easier for enemies to land hits on him. Thankfully he has the next highest defense with Trevor. His real strength is his unique power to turn into a bat which allows him to fly through the stage as long as you have the hearts. Considering how obnoxious levels get, this is actually a pretty good bonus, but like Grant, he's not terribly useful in a fight. Regardless of their strengths or lack of, playing through the game with multiple characters is pretty cool and adds some extra layers to the level design.
    The level design of the game is pretty strong and incredibly masochistic. I am not sure how well I would have done playing through this game on the original NES as the collection has a save state like feature I used extensively just to save time. Even then, I really enjoyed checking out new levels even if a few had me crying when I didn't have Grant or Alucard to cheese my way through them like the bridge leading to the Doppleganger fight. The one area I will say C3 fails is with stairs. Stairs are your enemy in this game and will likely account for 73% of all your deaths. Just like how falling accounts for the same number of deaths in Dark Souls. Seriously, stairs kill in this game and a lot of the most obnoxious choke points in levels usually revolve around them. Also don't jump onto them cause like the first game, you can't register landing on a stair unless you walk down it. Say hi to the bottomeless pit for me. With that said, C3 gives me a vibe I've only felt from games like Dark Souls as I tried to conquer their sadistic levels and annoying enemies. The boss fights are also a bit more memorable in this entry with the spirit fight that summons previous bosses, cool rematch with Frankenstein's Monster, a serious upgraded fight against Medusa, the Doppleganger fight, and the first of the water serpent fights.
    The game also has a pretty stellar soundtrack and gives us a track on par with Bloody Tears in the form of Beginning, but honestly the whole score is pretty good and holds up to the series long standing track record of good music. The graphics go back to a style similar to the first game with more orange and blues, but they added some cool effects and made places like the Clock Tower have some really good wow factor to them as well.
    I wasn't really sure what to expect going into this game, but I didn't expect I was going to love it as much as I did. You can even go back to the thread I talked about playing it. I went through the game three times and kept playing it on the side while I was still playing the others. I really don't replay games that quickly after finishing it. I mean I thoroughly enjoyed FF Type-0 but I just couldn't bring myself to play through it second time so close after finishing it. Yet here I am replaying some old NES relic like I was addicted to it. That's why I knew it had to make it onto this list. I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised. Fact is, this may be the most influential and important entry in the series. I know some of you may pipe in about Symphony of the Night, but even SotN is inspired by this game since it serves simultaneously as sequel to both Rondo of Blood and this game. I feel that was part of the issue with the entries I played afterwards, Super Castlevania IV has its moments, but its obvious the game was just them re-imagining the first Castlevania and showing off all the tech for the Super Nintendo. Bloodlines was weird, but in a good way and at least got the high difficulty curve back, but neither game feel like a true successor to this entry, not until you get to Rondo of Blood which brought back multi-path stages and interchangeable party members. I was also not surprised this entry was chosen for the Castlevania TV series on Netflix, in addition to actually just having a cast, it has one of the better backstories of the original entries until you hit SotN. It has been very interesting to see this games profile rise in the last few years among fans. If you haven't had the chance to, I recommend checking out this gem of an entry.


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