The original Thief was one of my favorite PC games of all time. It was unique in that it completely focused on stealth -- a mechanic that wasn't used often at the time outside of a few select games like the original...
The Tales series often doesn't get the same recognition as big-name JRPGs like Final Fantasy, and that's a shame. It's a consistently quality franchise that has been delivering year after year, but one of the problems with it is that some of the titles are a bit harder to find.
Whereas Square releases port after port of Final Fantasy, making it easier to acquire older games, Namco doesn't tend to re-release Tales games often in the West, leaving them a little harder to track down on older consoles. Thankfully they've wised up for Tales of Symphonia Chronicles, which delivers one of the best games in the entire series on PS3.
When I was a young kid, I loved nothing more than playing classic sport video games like Bases Loaded, Blades of Steel, Double Dribble, Tecmo Bowl, and Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!. While I enjoyed the likes of Super Mario Bros. and Zelda, hitting a game winning homerun was inherently more rewarding than sticking a silver arrow in Gannon's forehead ever was.
As I pushed through my junior high school years though, my tastes in games began to change. It was in these years that I was introduced to my deepest of video game loves: the Japanese RPG. Chrono Trigger and Lunar: The Silver Star opened my eyes to a much deeper world; a world where story was just as important as gameplay, and more importantly, could actually have meaning.
Nowadays, I find myself satisfied having quick flings with any action game that I can finish in a weekend. I still love RPGs and sports games, but the commitment to fully enjoy them is more than I can usually spare. If only there was a way I could enjoy both genres simultaneously; a way to go back to the days where time was in abundance.
Inazuma Eleven is the time machine I’ve been looking for.
Level-5's Guild series started out as a bizarre anthology of pint-sized experiences from industry veterans. Initially released in Japan during the spring of 2012, the package would come to western shores later that year. Well, sort of. It was dismantled, shipped across the ocean, and sold piecemeal via the Nintendo eShop.
One by one, the games trickled onto the handheld's online store -- with one notable exception. Weapon Shop de Omasse was oddly absent. For more than a year the final piece of the puzzle remained on the back burner, that is, until now. Better late than never.
In 2009, American and European Xbox 360 players got their first taste of the popular Earth Defense Force PS2 series from Japan with the game's third entry, 2017, by developer Sandlot. The cult classic budget title featured frantic arcade action, but was marred by terrible voice acting, low-quality graphics, and massive slowdown when multiple enemies were on-screen. Still, it managed to garner a fan following, as few could deny how fun the game was.
Two years later, Vicious Cycle took over development of the sequel, Insect Armageddon. This version retained the overall feel of the previous title, but improved the graphics and added online support, as well as multiple armor classes. While a technically better title, it separated itself from the previous game by focusing on being more of a squad-based shooter.
Now, the bugs are back, and with them original series developer Sandlot. Taking notes from what worked best in both of the previous entries, and retaining the heart of what made the series such a cult hit was a tall, mech-sized order. Thankfully, like members of the EDF themselves, it looks as though they were more than up to the task.
I was very skeptical when the Strider franchise was handed over to Double Helix. This was before we found out that Killer Instinct was actually a decent game, when the studio was allowed to spread its wings with something other than a movie license title.
Two playthroughs later, and I'm a believer. If Strider is any indication, I really think Double Helix has a bright future ahead of it.
Donkey Kong Country Returns was one of my favorite platformers of the last generation. It had charm, challenge, and most importantly -- it was a ton of fun. But one of my only hang-ups with the Wii version was the lack of control options, and the forced implementation of Wiimote controls.
With that out of the way compliments of a host of controller choices and many more improvements, Tropical Freeze is somehow even better than Returns.
Beat-’em-ups are quite the strange genre to me. I grew playing many of them: Simpsons, X-Men, and Turtles in Time in the arcades were my jam. In fact, I’d say they are still my jam. That said, it’s easy to recognize their faults, which are really faults of the genre as a whole, even if those faults seem to melt away when playing with some buddies. Lining up attacks can be a chore and they’re generally painfully simplistic when it comes to actual gameplay.
Double Dragon: Neon is a carefully crafted love-letter to a genre and a time period. It is an '80s beat-'em-up through and through, but with one caveat: it has some of the best gameplay to ever grace the genre.
You don't have to ask me twice to get back into the world of Naughty Dog's The Last of Us, given that the game swept pretty much every award you could earn in 2013. I'm happy to accept the invitation into its super freaky post-apocalyptic world, especially when that return comes with a healthy dose of backstory. For me, it's the storytelling that makes Naughty Dog's games so enjoyable.
Some games come out of nowhere. Such is the case with AeternoBlade, a 2D action platformer from Corecell Technology -- a relatively unknown eastern developer. It was hit with a few delays in the west, but now, it has a solid release date, and it's finally ready to hit the 3DS eShop.
Even though it doesn't really reach for the stars and looks decidedly dated, it's a decent way for any Metroidvania fan to spend their time.
It's the early 21st century and humanity is embroiled in a bitter war with an alien race hellbent on stemming mankind's advance into outer space. You are a mech pilot. You pilot a war machine that's enormous and powerful. Aliens shoot at you, and you are probably going to need to dodge some bullets and shoot back.
It's an age-old story, one that's probably not going to win many accolades, and that's okay. Sometimes it's just fun to bomb around a distant planet and blow up everything in sight.
Although I had an amazing time with Dead Rising 3, the first DLC offering left a sour taste in my mouth. It was a generic add-on that encapsulated some of our worst fears when we saw the initial footage of the game, and playable soldier Adam Kane was one of the worst characters the franchise had to offer.
Thankfully, the second time around is a slight improvement on the broken formula, even if it's not quite there yet.
One Piece is a fantastic anime. It follows the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy and his charismatic Straw Hat Pirate crew as they search for the "One Piece" -- the most valued treasure in the entire land. They're over 600 episodes in and they still haven't found it, but it's an entertaining journey all the same.
Sadly, One Piece: Romance Dawn isn't a great reflection of the show, mostly due to a lazy presentation.
The basic idea here is largely the same: for a few dollars you get one new area, two new missions, an easter egg or two, and new cosmetic customization options for your preferred Vault Hunter. Among those constants throughout the Headhunter series, the most notable variables in play are the choice of which characters to focus on and the dialogue and interactions resulting from that choice. For Wedding Day Massacre, Gearbox chose wisely.
Finally! The story of Final Fantasy XIII is finally final with Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy. But this closing act turns the trilogy on its head with brand new play mechanics and a game structure that is unlike anything seen in the previous titles. Lightning herself may be (mostly) the same, but everything else is quite different.