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PlayStation 2

100% Series Retrospective: Resident Evil

Oct 02 // Chris Carter
Resident Evil - PlayStation [Owned], PC, Saturn, PSN [Owned] COMPLETED Resident Evil is where it all started. Gaming legend Shinji Mikami created a game that was not only an homage to Sweet Home, but also a great survival horror companion to Alone in the Dark. Unlike most games at the time, you simply didn't know what to expect next -- literally anything could jump out and try and bite your head off. Moments like the first time you experienced zombie dogs jumping through a window, or the famous first-person Hunter scene are burned into my memory. Despite the low-budget voice acting (which only added a campy, enjoyable Evil Dead feel to it), Resident Evil is a pure classic, even today.  Resident Evil 2 - PlayStation, PC, Nintendo 64, Dreamcast, GameCube, PSN [Owned] COMPLETED Resident Evil 2 took the first iteration's mansion setting, and turned it to 11. It wasn't just "The Mansion" anymore -- your playground was an entire city. Somehow, someway, Resident Evil 2 filled this city with secrets, story, and tons of character. Costume changes and hidden modes became more of a big deal, and started shaping up Resident Evil's trademark of packing in tons of content. The unique "two-disc" approach, in which the game was basically two games, was also rarely done at the time, and was a testament to the sheer undertaking that this year-and-nine-month project really was. The dynamic "Zapping System" mechanic that changed your story was pretty much unheard of at the time, and still is today. While I don't think Resident Evil 2 was as fun as the original, one thing's for sure: it's one of the most technically impressive games of all time.  Resident Evil 3 - PlayStation, PC, Dreamcast, GameCube, PSN [Owned] COMPLETED "3" was unique in that it had a big bad boss enemy stalk you the entire game -- basically right from the very beginning. It also introduced a mechanic that I was extremely grateful for, and rarely re-used: dodging. After the main game was completed, you could access the first true Mercenaries mode, entitled "Operation: Mad Jackal." RE3's variation was much more fleshed out than the prior installments' "Survivor" or "Battle Game" gametypes. Quite honestly, Mad Jackal set me up for my rabid love of the Mercenaries gametype. In fact, for a few titles, I would play Mercenaries for considerably longer than the actual core game -- Resident Evil 3 was one such example.  Resident Evil Survivor - PlayStation [Owned], PC COMPLETED My recollection of Survivor is vague at best: I remember renting it with my little brother, and beating it in an afternoon. The only specific thing I really remember about it is that it's basically Doom in Resident Evil form, and you literally cannot save the game, ever. While you're able to keep any weapons and items after death, you have to restart from the beginning if you die: considering is is around 1-3 hours, that might suck. EXTENDED THOUGHTS: Survivor is what it is. It's not a terrible "lightgun game," but it isn't great, either. One of the biggest punches in the face is the fact that it feels like a straight arcade port (even though it's not) given the fact that there are no continue points. It's hard to recommend for that reason alone, but if you're a Resident Evil fanatic, you may as well track this one down.  Resident Evil Code: Veronica - Dreamcast, PlayStation 2 [Owned], GameCube, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [Owned] COMPLETED Code Veronica was formerly my favorite game in the series, before REmake and RE5 came along. It was the first game to offer semi-fixed angles for the camera, instead of pre-rendered backgrounds, which was partly due to the upgrade in hardware to the PlayStation 2. It also offered a first-person view for a few weapons, and an amalgamation of various Resident Evil games, such as the 180-degree turn, upgradeable weapons, and explosive scenery. Simply put, it was just a clean, fun Resident Evil game. In the PS2 version, there were a few ham-fisted action scenes involving Wesker, but they were good fun too and helped add to the game's enjoyment. In addition to the normal game (Code: Veronica X), I completed battle mode with every character.  Resident Evil Gaiden - Game Boy Color [Owned] COMPLETED Gaiden ("side-story" in Japanese), is probably the only "bad" Resident Evil game in the entire franchise. While a few others were extremely average, Gaiden is borderline unplayable. Strangely enough, it's a top down/rhythm game hybrid -- the results are disastrous, and not even Leon and Barry can save this one. Combat is done in a turn-based game style, where contact with an enemy initiates a mini-game similar to the "field goal kick" bar from the popular Madden NFL series. To be blunt, combat just wasn't scary, and it wasn't much fun either. Resident Evil REmake - GameCube, Wii [Owned] COMPLETED RE1's GameCube REmake is possibly the best remake of all time, for any series. Capcom pulled out all the stops for this one, when they could have easily just re-released the game à la the RE GameCube collection. The graphics are updated, the voice acting is improved, and the game is overhauled so much that fans will barely recognize some parts of it (among a few new areas). The REmake offers up classic RE1 gameplay with a brand new veneer -- personally, while it's not my favorite, I think it's technically the best game in the series.  Resident Evil Zero - GameCube [Owned], Wii [Owned] COMPLETED Resident Evil Zero is one of the only games I haven't completed in the series before this Quest. While I had a GameCube, I was too busy playing other stuff at the time (including the GameCube's REmake), and just missed this one. I've heard mixed reactions -- both that it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, and that it's a solid entry to the franchise. Either way, I'm excited to jump into one this year with the Wii re-release. EXTENDED THOUGHTS: I'm not a huge fan of Zero, but that's mostly due to the two title characters involved. As the main series precursor to RE, I think Zero falls short in many respects. I didn't really feel connected to Rebecca or Billy nearly as much as I did with any previous character in the series, and considering they hardly ever make a re-appearance, I can only assume many people felt the same. I applaud Capcom for bringing us back to the Spencer Mansion and giving us a bit of insight into the mystery there, but honestly, REmake did all of this and more (I can't say enough good things about that game).  Resident Evil: Dead Aim - PlayStation 2 [Owned] COMPLETED Dead Aim is easily the best light-gun game in the series, especially for its time. Movement was shown in a third-person view like standard Resident Evil games, but it switched to first-person for shooting purposes. This basically created a hybrid shooting/adventure game that at least allowed you to pick your fights during most instances, instead of being forced to battle every single enemy on-rails. Why Capcom didn't follow this formula further, I'll never know, as it made for a really interesting game. It also offered up a few new characters that, while forgettable, show Capcom was at least trying something different instead of putting Leon and Chris into a game for the hundredth time.  Resident Evil Outbreak - PlayStation 2 [Owned] COMPLETED Outbreak was a fan's dream: for the first time, Resident Evil was truly multiplayer! You could cooperate or betray your teammates, just like a real zombie apocalypse. There were plenty of "How could you leave me behind!" and "It was both of us or one of us!" moments, and this made for a unique experience that hasn't really been matched yet, even with Left 4 Dead. Outbreak served up classic hopeless Resident Evil tension with heated multiplayer gameplay, and it's a shame so many people missed out on it (mostly due to the haphazard marketing of the PS2's HDD and Internet accessory).  Resident Evil Outbreak File #2 - PlayStation 2 [Owned] COMPLETED Strangely enough, Outbreak 2 was the first Resident Evil game to allow people to move and shoot. Since it wasn't as popular in America, however, no one really talks about it. Part of the reason for the lack of popularity was the fact that it was basically a carbon-copy of Outbreak 1, with a few different scenarios. The game added an extra communication system that allowed people to talk to one another despite the region, and a few other small additions, but it wasn't really enough to show up on most people's radars. Personally, I wasn't upset with more of the same, as I enjoyed the original Outbreak.  Resident Evil 4 - GameCube, PlayStation 2 [Owned], PC, Wii [Owned]*, iPhone [Owned], iPad, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [Owned] COMPLETED Many fans are upset at Resident Evil 4 for spearheading the series into an action-oriented direction. Personally, I see it as a natural evolution of the series. The behind-the-back camera and aiming mechanics are a much better alternative than anything previously offered, and the enemy variety lends itself well to the new direction. For whatever reason, people never seem to fault Resident Evil 4 for a more action-centric focus, instead choosing Resident Evil 5 as the sacrificial lamb. Personally, I never saw it: I was already ready for action ever since Code Veronica X. The Mercenaries mode also takes a further step forward, and offers up even more additional content than ever before -- most notably the ability to select multiple stages, and the inability to actually complete it. Resident Evil 4 was also insanely popular, and helped revitalize the series.  Resident Evil: Deadly Silence - DS [Owned] COMPLETED Deadly Silence. DS. Get it?! One of the cool things about this version of Resident Evil is that the top screen of the DS is used as a map, and a health indicator at all times. Additionally, the game is pretty much a spot-on port of the PS1 game, voice acting and all, which is pretty impressive given the DS' general lack of horsepower. It also has a multiplayer mode; it's kind of weak, given that you and your friends never actually see each other in different parts of the mansion, but it's a free addition nonetheless. To differentiate this playthrough from my original RE run, I'm playing the "REbirth mode," which adds a ton of unique first-person action scenes, and DS-centric additions/re-arrangements. Even though the game is basically a port, touch screen-specific puzzles and changes are enough to justify another playthrough here. All in all, Deadly Silence is about what you'd expect out of an above average portable port, and a solid addition to any RE fan's collection.  Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles - Wii [Owned], PlayStation 3 COMPLETED Umbrella Chronicles is an on-rails shooter for the Wii. That's about all I can say about it, honestly, before I head into this one. It doesn't take a whole lot of effort or time to complete it, and cooperative gameplay is kind of shoe-horned in. Thankfully, it has a decent amount of unlockable content. While I have played Umbrella Chronicles, I haven't tackled it as much as Darkside Chronicles, so I'll be sure and post extended thoughts below. EXTENDED THOUGHTS: If you like light-gun games, be sure and check this one out. It offers pretty standard, enjoyable light-gun arcade-y fun over the backdrop of a few past Resident Evil titles. Umbrella Chronicles is a good way to get a refresher for Resident Evil Zero, Resident Evil 1, and Resident Evil 3. Although, despite how fun it can be, I'd highly recommend playing it with a partner, as it enhances the enjoyment tenfold. Resident Evil 5 - Xbox 360 [Owned], PlayStation 3 [Owned], PC COMPLETED I make it no secret that Resident Evil 5 is my favorite game of all time (emphasis on personal favorite). The day I got it at midnight, I took off work the next day, and beat it sometime in the morning. The next day, my wife and I started a co-op campaign that would last about a week -- after that, I grinded through another playthrough to get some cash for extra weapons; I just couldn't get enough. To put it simply, I think RE5 is the most fun game in the entire series. There's a hefty campaign, tons of extra content, co-op, and for the first time, there's co-op Mercenaries -- what more could you want? I literally played RE5 for months on end, and ate up all the DLC possible. I can't say enough good things about this game. For my 2012 playthrough, I'm either going to tackle the PlayStation Move version of the game, or replay it with my wife. Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles - Wii [Owned], PlayStation 3 COMPLETED Darkside Chronicles is a considerable improvement upon Umbrella Chronicles. There's a new evade move and it offers a dynamic difficulty setting, along with an improved co-op mode. Like the other light-gun titles in the series, Darkside Chronicles is basically a love-it-or-hate-it kind of game. It doesn't really offer a whole lot more than most other on-rail shooters. If you're a Resident Evil fan, however, you may want to put up with it just for the extra story bits. EXTENDED THOUGHTS: Out of the two light-gun Wii titles, Darkside Chronicles is the better game; especially for two players. The developers make a much better effort to accommodate co-op play, and the new mechanics make gameplay smoother. You also get crucial backstory on Leon and Krauser, which helps make Resident Evil 4's Krauser encounters that much more enjoyable. If you have to choose one of the two Wii light-gun games, make it Darkside -- but getting both isn't a bad idea.  Resident Evil: Deck Building Game - [Owned] COMPLETED If you haven't played a deck-building game before, the concept is pretty simple. There are a bunch of stacks of static cards in the center of the play area. You have one giant deck, of which you draw five cards at a time from. With those five cards, you can perform a number of actions depending on what you randomly drew -- you can buy cards from the middle or perform actions to either draw more cards or modify your deck. Resident Evil's deck-building variant adds another new concept: fighting infected. On any given turn, you're allowed one buy, one action, and one "exploration" that allows you to take a door card and explore the Spencer Mansion. In the mansion you can find items or battle infected for trophies -- depending on the gametype, the player with the most trophies (kills) wins. I've played a number of deck-building games before such as Dominion, but Resident Evil is one of my favorites. Each player gets assigned a unique character that changes your abilities, which helps add to the characterization and uniqueness of the game. Also, it's a delight to take down the Nemesis with a bunch of knife cards as Krauser. Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D - 3DS [Owned] COMPLETED Mercenaries 3D is a very niche title. If you love the Mercenaries mini-games from other titles, you may like Mercs 3D. If you loathe them -- well, that's kind of the entire game here. Mercs 3D made waves in the gaming community at release due to the inability to delete saves, and its incredibly short length (it can be beaten in a few hours). It also had a few other problems like the short draw distance, among other graphical glitches. Personally, I thought the game was acceptable, and played it for quite a while before putting it down. While it may seem like a cash grab at first, there are a decent amount of scenarios included, and Mercs fanatics will be sure to come back to it occasionally.  Resident Evil: Revelations - 3DS [Owned] COMPLETED Did the mysteriously abandoned Resident Evil PSP game end up as Revelations? Does it really matter at this point? Early previews are calling this "one of the best Resident Evils in a long time, and possibly the best Resident Evil ever." The demo is great, the visuals are great, and there's really no reason to doubt this entry, despite the fact that it's on a portable. I plan on getting this game day one and ripping through it in a few days. I'll be sure and post my thoughts after completion. EXTENDED THOUGHTS: After playing the final release, I felt like the demo was a bait and switch of sorts. The fact of the matter is, without going into spoiler territory, at least half of the game is not the tight-knit claustrophobic experience the demo made it out to be. A lot of Revelations is spent with an AI partner clunking around, or in open areas fighting non-stop enemies in a full-out actionfest -- the switch between the Cruise Ship sections and everywhere else is jarring, and the story isn't the greatest to boot. Thankfully, the game looked great, controlled great, and Raid Mode is pretty fun solo or with a friend. I hope that Capcom puts this new engine to good use, and expands upon a lot of concepts with Revelations. It's not one of my favorite Resident Evil games for sure, but it's not bad, either.  Resident Evil Game Boy Color - Game Boy Color ROM [Owned] COMPLETED This previously unreleased title has finally been given to the public by an anonymous source. While it evidently isn't possible to beat the game in its current state, I'll still attempt to complete as much as possible. Up until 2012, no one has had a chance to play this missing piece of history, so I'm pretty excited to see what we've been missing all these years. EXTENDED THOUGHTS: Considering Resident Evil GBC is only available as a free ROM, you aren't really risking anything financially to try it. There isn't a whole lot to say about this one that can't really be said by looking at the screenshot above. It's a very simplistic version of Resident Evil, distilled into a tiny cartridge-size package. The ROM isn't complete, but at least you can get a taste of this lost game. While it isn't ideal, I would have salivated at the prospect of a portable Resident Evil game for car trips as a child.  Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City - Xbox 360 [Owned], PlayStation 3, PC COMPLETED I honestly have no idea what to expect from Raccoon City. I'm not the biggest fan of Slant Six, and I'm not too keen on the possible idea of shooting down Resident Evil's heroes and heroines. Additionally, based on rumors, the game may not have a split-screen mode, which would hinder my ability to play with my wife. Regardless, I'll be picking up Raccoon City this year on my 360, and I'm eager to see what it can offer to the series. EXTENDED THOUGHTS: Raccoon City is a disappointment. While fun, the game has a heap of issues, from online stability, to numerous gamebreaking glitches. Players have been known to fall through the floor, turn into ghosts, and all sorts of other mishaps. It's a shame, because for Resident Evil fans, the game is a fun little romp through the events of Resident Evil 2 and 3. You get to see pretty much every major monster from the series (Nemesis included!), and some familiar faces like Birkin, Leon, and Hunk. If done correctly -- and possibly as canon -- this could have been a really worthwhile entry into the franchise. As it stands, it's a hard recommendation  Resident Evil 6 - Xbox 360 [Owned], PlayStation 3, PC COMPLETED I could not be more excited for Resident Evil 6. From the rumors offered so far, it looks to have a full Mercenaries mode with multiplayer, story mode co-op, and a single-player campaign without an AI partner. In short, it apparently offers more content than RE5. I'm excited for the new setting, and hopefully the story will be interesting this time around without Wesker (presumably, provided he isn't cloned). Although the series is decidedly more action-oriented, there are also rumors of more claustrophobic areas and slower-moving zombies having a part in RE6 -- if they can do it right, I say bring it on. EXTENDED THOUGHTS: Despite my initial excitement, over time, I came into Resident Evil 6 expecting to be disappointed. I had heard so many bad things from my friends and colleagues who have played it at various events like E3 and TGS. I had personally bought Dragon's Dogma primarily for early access to the Resident Evil 6 demo, and came away fairly unimpressed. I played the Resident Evil 5 demo for hours on end (over twenty hours in fact) -- with the Resident Evil 6 demo, I literally played it once and deleted it. So with all this in mind, I came into Resident Evil 6 very skeptical, and left mostly impressed. Mostly. Spreading apart all three (four, if you count Ada) stories was a ballsy move. With Resident Evil 5, it was enjoyable to play as Chris and Sheva the entire game, as the story wasn't all over the place, and you were grounded in both characters, which made it easy to learn their nuances and melee abilities. With Resident Evil 6, you're jumping all over the place at times, and it can be jarring. Not only does every character handle differently, but everyone has a different UI to boot. Given the mostly fast-paced action the game spews at you constantly, design choices like the inability to pause the game in co-op just feel weird, as do QTEs that only involve one player, wrapped up in such unexciting things as starting a car. Still, I found myself enjoying the game the more I played it. (I'm talking ten hours of learning the nuances of combat). I'll fully admit, Mercenaries -- which you all know I'm a giant fan of -- really helped me grasp said nuances much quicker than the campaign, and bolstered my enjoyment tenfold. As you can see in this video, combat is more than meets the eye in Resident Evil 6. There's sliding, counters, quick-shotting, and contextual melee moves. It's like a complex fighting game in a sense, but integrated into one of my favorite franchises of all time. Naturally, since it's done well, I'm enjoying myself. RE6 also has a ton of content provided that you're ready to embrace the action-oriented gameplay (which has been a staple since RE4). There's an Ada campaign, a handful of online modes, a meta-game involving skill XP in both the campaign and Mercenaries, tons of unlocks and some costumes for Mercs, and more. Like RE5, there's enough here to keep you playing well into 2013. While it isn't one of my favorite games in the franchise by far, I think it's a fairly solid action game (what immediately comes to mind is my opinion of Skyward Sword: great action-RPG, alright Zelda game). Just like RE5, your mileage will vary depending on how fun your co-op partner is -- just know, however, that the co-op AI is not nearly as frustrating as Sheva was. Collection Photo:  Final thoughts: The Resident Evil series has certainly had its ups and downs. From its horror roots to a metamorphosis of action to the chagrin of many fans, everyone has to admit that the franchise is interesting, if nothing else. As a whole, I found myself not enjoying this Quest nearly as much as the other ones, and I can't really put my finger on why, as I still like the series overall. While I was truly eager to rip into Tony Hawk, Kingdom Hearts, and Zelda almost immediately, I took a long break in between some of the games here, as I found it fairly tough to continue on. Perhaps it's because of the slow-moving nature of many of the earlier games, and when played in rapid succession, it can get a bit grating? I don't know for sure. Thankfully, the multiplayer iterations kept me going, as it was a blast to, well, blast away the undead with my wife or with a friend.    
100% Resident Evil photo
Carter's Quest
[Read on for a description of every Resident Evil game ever released in the US, and my completion of them all in 2012.] Why Resident Evil? This year, Capcom is pushing out three entirely new Resident Evil games -- it's also t...

100% Kingdom Hearts photo
100% Kingdom Hearts

100% Series Retrospective: Kingdom Hearts


Carter's Quest
Sep 26
// Chris Carter
[Read on for a description of every Kingdom Hearts game ever released in the US, and my completion of all of them in 2012.] So I kind of realized that I was powering through both the Resident Evil and Tony Hawk...
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Jimquisition: Crying Through The Laughs


Jimquisition happens every Monday!
Sep 17
// Jim Sterling
Most games are depressed and miserable, but are they truly tragic? Of course not, otherwise there wouldn't be a video asking such a deliberately leading question. The trouble with most games today is that they rush to the sa...
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La Pucelle: Tactics is heading to the PSN this week


Sep 10
// Chris Carter
I first heard of this news a few days ago, but I held off on posting it until I could get more concrete information. Thankfully, it looks like the internet rumblings have been correct, as La Pucelle: Tactics is going to be a ...
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Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary Ultimate Box announced


Thirteen games for the price of thirteen games!
Aug 31
// Jim Sterling
It's Final Fantasy's 25th anniversary this year, and you better believe Square Enix won't pass up the chance to sell things it's sold before in celebration. Still, when it's packaged this nicely, it's easy to see why folks'll...

Getting It Right: Klonoa 2

Aug 27 // Allistair Pinsof
Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil (PlayStation 2)Developer: NamcoPublisher: NamcoReleased: March 18, 2003 In a nutshell: Klonoa 2 is the follow-up to the 1997 cult hit that paired a colorful, dreamlike world with fluid platforming and clever puzzles. Klonoa uses his over-sized ring (the Wind Bullet) to grab enemies and toss them. After a portal shoots Klonoa into the world of Lunatea, he joins a priestess in training and her adorable pet as they try to put a stop to a bell that is spawning evil creatures into the world. Makes sense, right? A detailed, unique look Despite playing a ten-year-old game on a standard TV, I am still mesmerized by Klonoa 2’s visuals and often catch myself smiling for no good reason. Perhaps it is for a good reason. That reason being that it’s rare to find such a detailed, imaginative, and colorful setting in games today. Shackled by HD demands and misguided by market research, the time modern developers put into creating a distinct look and world isn’t equal to the time spent tweaking lighting systems and visual filters. Our expectations are so low that just making a game on Unreal Engine 3 not look completely brown and grey is enough to earn praise. The world of Klonoa is one of pure whimsy and delight. It’s a world made of primary colors, fantastical locales, and places we would want to visit even if we weren’t tasked with throwing baddies all day. Amusement parks have detailed roller coasters in the distance and fireworks exploding in the sky, European-esque cities are detailed with train systems and ornamental detail on war-torn homes, and natural environments (woodlands, caverns, cliff sides) are brought to life through intricate backdrops and foregrounds. All of these thoughtfully composed levels are complemented by one of the earliest and best uses of cel shading and some stellar proto-furries character design. Each of the game’s areas are so distinct and detailed that you never know what to expect next, other than more eye-candy. Puzzles make everything better Some say 2D Mario hasn’t changed since Super Mario World, but it has and not for the better. SMW had puzzles to go along with the platforming. Sure, finding every coin and secret is a puzzle in their own way, but SMW was much more direct with its approach to puzzles. This soon fell out of favor, not only in future entries, but in the genre as a whole. The puzzles of Klonoa are what makes the games so unique and well paced. Sometimes, you are surfing down a half-pipe, but other times, you just need to stop and use your brain for a bit. Admittedly, these puzzles won’t stump anyone who got past the first Klonoa but their inclusion is appreciated, nonetheless. Every game could benefit from some puzzles that break up the action from time to time. This is just one of the few things that makes Half-Life so much more enjoyable than Call of Duty and Super Mario World a bit more special than New Super Mario Bros. The feeling of being on an adventure Platformers’ stories are typically only present to provide backstory and bridge the action, but Klonoa’s characters and dialog do a bit more than this. They give the game some heart. Klonoa 2’s dialogue is badly paced and simplistic to a fault, but it helps give a sense of adventure and progress within the world of Lunatea. You won’t even mind (heavily redesigned) recycled levels because it fits within the context of the plot and even makes it exciting to revisit an earlier area to discover how it changed. 16-bit platformers gave us the sense that one day we’d be playing our Saturday morning cartoons instead of watching them -- an idea that Klonoa 2 delivers on, if only for a couple hours. Escaping from a crumbling city, chasing the bad guy across the map, and heading into unknown territory with Klonoa and company is a fun trip. The game hits a sweet spot between giving scenarios more impact through storytelling without drowning the player in Kingdom Hearts-levels of insular nonsense. A one-of-a-kind world The personified hills and fluffy clouds of Mario may be surreal by design, but they have become normalized through familiarity over the years. The rules of the 2D platformer are so simple -- you run and jump with rarely more than two buttons required -- it opens the door to all sorts of possibilities in presentation and world-building that developers never seem to capitalize on. Most are content to follow Nintendo's legacy and play it safe. Klonoa is the exception to the rule. Klonoa goes to some weird places in both its visuals and story, but it grounds them all through its cast’s goals and desires. Yeah, you are fighting in the Kingdom of Joy as you try to put an end to the King of Sorrow, but it kind of just works despite how ridiculous it sounds. Everything in the game’s design builds this strange, magical world that isn’t quite like anything else. I don’t know what the hell is going on with Klonoa’s ears or why the King of Sorrow is such a cry-baby, but it doesn’t really matter. The game never begs that you take its bizarre fiction seriously. It’s all secondary to the action but the surreal story does a great job of providing some awesome visuals, settings, and moments through it. Melancholy music and story Klonoa 2 is sappy -- even more so than the original -- but it’s a good kind of sappy that makes the ending pull on the heartstrings in an unexpected way. The game starts in a strange, sentimental space and plunges deeper down the rabbit hole until its finale when all is revealed and the “Dream Traveler” must face his fate. Along with the imaginative art direction, it’s the music that really pulls me into Klonoa’s melancholic world. The game often reminds me of Chrono Cross at times. Here you are on this grand adventure in a colorful place, but it all feels a bit sad for some reason. Klonoa has no real identity, everything is in disorder, and your adventure is complemented by one of the prettiest, saddest soundtracks to grace a sidescroller since Donkey Kong Country. There is a sweetness and sadness to Klonoa's second outing that makes the game all the more memorable for it. In a medium where anything is possible, most games seem uninspired, gloomy, and self-important. Klonoa 2 stands in strong contrast with its bubblegum world and feel-good atmosphere. It may be a bit too simple and rest heavily on the mechanics established in the first entry, but this sequel is manufactured joy for anyone seeking an off-the-beaten-path platformer with a lot of wit and heart. Even without the HD upgrade (this game is non-emulator friendly), Klonoa 2's world still pops thanks to its incredible art direction. It's a real testament that visuals and audio can immerse the player without resorting to gritty realism or familiar genre tropes. If there is one game begging for a current- (next- ?) gen sequel, it's Klonoa. C'mon, Namco! Stop being jerks! [Image source]
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[Getting It Right is a monthly series in which I take a look at the elements that make up a classic game. What were the key ingredients that set it apart and make it hold up to this day? Read on to find out.] Did the 2D pla...

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Gungrave: Overdose launches as a PS2 Classics title


Aug 22
// Dale North
Do you remember Gungrave: Overdose? This crazy, stylish third-person shooter (run-and-gun?) was originally released back in 2004 for the PS2. I remember nice animated cutscenes breaking up crazy shooting and bashing enemies w...
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Grasshopper says it's Killer7's seven-year anniversary!


Jul 09
// Jim Sterling
Today has been officially recognized as the seven-year anniversary of Killer7, one of the most awe-inspiring and beautiful videogames ever created. Seven years ago today, the game launched in Japan. It actually came to North ...
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PS2 games coming to PSN next month (in Japan)


Jul 03
// Dale North
This is what I've always wanted Sony to do. There are tons of great PS2 games out there that are sitting and rotting. Why not re-release them digitally for the PS3?  They're doing exactly that in Japan, starting July 25....
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Sources have indicated to GamesIndustry International that Sony has made a deal with Gaikai to offer first- and third-party PlayStation and PS2 games on PS3 via streaming. Presumably, we'll hear the official details about thi...

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Clock Tower 3, land of the f*cked up cutscene


May 25
// Jim Sterling
Clock Tower 3 wasn't exactly the greatest game in the world, but it did one thing perfectly, one thing that has kept it stuck in my mind for years -- cutscenes. To many, the art of the cutscene is worth more sneering than pr...
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PS2 classic Persona 3: FES hits PSN tomorrow


Apr 09
// Dale North
Persona 3 is still one of my favorite games of all-time. I've played it so many times now that it's bordering on crazy, but I may give it another go on my PS3 as it's being re-released as a PlayStation 2 Classic tomorrow on ...
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Live show: Zone of the Enders on Mash Tactics


Mar 29
// Bill Zoeker
Today is "Throwback Thurday" on Mash Tactics, and King Foom is cutting it close. Zone of the Enders is slated for the HD treatment this year, but until that actually happens, it still counts as a throwback, dammit! Konami's c...
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Primal comes to PSN's PS2 Classics this week


Feb 27
// Jim Sterling
Primal is one of those games that not too many people remember, but those that do remember it very fondly indeed. It's not even a very good game, but its engaging story and interesting concepts turned what could have been a f...
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Live show: WTF? Under the Skin on Mash Tactics


Feb 22
// Bill Zoeker
It's another odd edition of 'WTF Wednesdays' on Mash Tactics. King Foom is going to be playing Under the Skin on PlayStation 2. This Capcom gem has the player take the role of a toddler alien, born for mischief, causing havoc...
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Rare no more: Digital Devil Saga series coming to PSN


Feb 20
// Josh Tolentino
Ah, Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga. Produced back in the pre-Persona craze days, when Atlus USA could only afford to do one print run of any given series (a rep they still hold today, though t...

Preview: Mixing it up with MLB 2K12

Feb 17 // Samit Sarkar
MLB 2K12 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [previewed], PC, Wii, PSP, DS, PlayStation 2)Developer: Visual ConceptsPublisher: 2K SportsRelease: March 6, 2012MSRP: $59.99 (PS3, 360) / $69.99 (360 Combo Pack with NBA 2K12)It's unclear at this point whether Take-Two will renew its exclusive licensing agreement with Major League Baseball. But even if this is the last MLB 2K game, the developers at Visual Concepts aren't phoning it in: they're focusing on fixing gameplay instead of buzzword-filled new features, and I give them credit for that. It's not a flashy approach, but if they pull it off, I expect fans to give the game a better reception.Visual Concepts has fixated on the pitcher-batter confrontation, the heart of baseball. Unlike McGilberry in his perfect game, real MLB pitchers constantly mix up their strategies for attacking hitters. That's what separates them from minor-league hurlers: they rarely abuse a pitch or return to a particular location in a certain situation. They have to adapt because they're facing MLB hitters, who got to the big-league level by punishing pitchers who became predictable. If you tend to go with, say, a splitter in the dirt on 0-2, and a shoulder-high fastball on a 1-2 count, hitters in MLB 2K12 will quickly pick up on that habit and learn to lay off. In addition, if the pitcher you're playing with has four or five pitches in his repertoire, and you consistently stick to one or two, batters will come to expect them -- and when a hitter knows what to look for, he's much more dangerous. (The game determines the baseline frequencies for each pitcher -- whether he tends to throw a certain pitch 8% of the time or 28% of the time -- from his Inside Edge scouting data.)MLB 2K12 gives you a good deal of feedback to tip you off to your tendencies. Analyst Steve Phillips might point one out with a comment. The visual feedback is more immediate and noticeable. All of your pitches are lined up on the left side of the screen as circular icons with numerical effectiveness ratings. If you're beginning to overuse a pitch (that is, throwing it too often compared to the Inside Edge data), the icon's background will turn from a neutral teal to yellow. That's a warning that you're becoming too predictable. If you continue to throw that pitch, the background will eventually become red, which lets you know that hitters are starting to look for it above your other options.It's also important to mix up your location and keep hitters on their toes. Going to the down-and-away well too often will cause that corner of the strike zone to turn black, which is a sign that you should go elsewhere. It'll be tougher to hit your spots, though, since Visual Concepts has tweaked breaking balls to be more realistic. You won't get the same sharp break on a 12-6 curveball if you start it above the strike zone as if you start it chest-high. At any time, you can pull up a screen showing exactly how many pitches you've thrown in each area, as well as Inside Edge data that illustrates a pitcher's real-life pitch frequencies. In practice, the adaptive hitting AI indeed made my life miserable when I began to overuse my fastball. A pitch's effectiveness rating also drops when you give up hits with it, and it varies from hitter to hitter. I only spent an hour or so with the game, but I had a couple of long innings because batters began to hammer my outside-corner heater after they learned to expect that pitch in that spot. That was doubly true for Albert Pujols. He smacked my fastball in his first at-bat for a single, and when I faced him again two innings later, I noticed that the fastball's rating had decreased. It appears that MLB 2K12 will really force you to adapt just as real pitchers do.Visual Concepts hasn't neglected hitting, either. Criticisms of past MLB 2K games always mentioned that they lacked hit variety -- it seemed as if you'd keep seeing the same soft liners to infielders. New ball physics this year have greatly improved hit variety and distribution, and it's all tied to the pitch that was thrown and the way the hitter made contact, just as it should be.Throwing in the field has also seen a significant upgrade. The new throw meter dynamically responds to your fielder's position. If you're charging a slow roller and you cue up a throw that your fielder has to make on the run, the green section of the throw meter will be much smaller than it would have been had you allowed him to set his feet before throwing to first. Of course, the meter also depends on the skill of the fielder in question, so someone with a more accurate arm will have a larger "sweet spot" even if someone's upending him with a slide as he's releasing the ball. The one new mode in MLB 2K12 is called MLB Today Season, and it's a spin on the traditional season setups in sports games. It allows you to play along with a real-life team, one game at a time. Let's say you're a Dodgers fan, and they lost the first two games of the 2012 season to the Padres. The MLB Today engine will import the exact scores and statistics from those games into your MLB Today Season, and you can pick up from there with the next game on April 7th and try to alter the course of the Dodgers' season.MLB Today Season forces you to play game-by-game, so you can't play at any pace other than that of your team's real-life counterpart. But by the end of September, the real Dodgers might be languishing in fourth place while your in-game Dodgers are celebrating an NL West crown!My Player has also seen a tweak in the direction of NBA 2K12: you'll select a role for your player that will affect the way your attributes develop. Speedsters won't hit a lot of home runs, but they'll be able to run down balls in the gap and steal a lot of bases. Sluggers, on the other hand, won't be fleet of foot. I'm still not sure that MLB 2K12 will be a legitimate competitor to Sony's MLB 12 The Show. But I liked what I saw, and it appears that the competition will be as close as it's ever been between these two franchises. Here's hoping Visual Concepts finally gets it right.
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This is the third year in a row that 2K Sports is holding its Perfect Game Challenge for its MLB 2K series. They're changing the format this time, but previously, the first person to throw a verified perfect game would win $1...

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Sony has no plans to let PS2/PS3 games run on PS Vita


Feb 17
// Jim Sterling
Although a number of PlayStation 2 classics have wandered onto the PlayStation Network lately, Sony has put paid to any hope that you'll be able to play them on the go. PS2 games will be restricted to the PS3, with no planned...
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Live show: Stretch Panic on Mash Tactics


Feb 15
// Bill Zoeker
It's going to be a 'WTF Wednesday' of ridiculous proportions today on Mash Tactics. King Foom is flinging himself face-first into Treasure's oddball PlayStation 2 title Stretch Panic. I could go into a full description of the...
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Live show: WTF? Mister Mosquito on Mash Tactics


Feb 08
// Bill Zoeker
Today is a true 'WTF Wednesday' for Mash Tactics. King Foom will be playing the bizarre classic Mister Mosquito for PlayStation 2. This unconventional game puts the player in the role of the titular blood-sucker trying to sur...
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Location: You're such a beach!


Feb 01
// Hohojirozame
[Hohojirozame writes about a personal favorite of mine: Dark Cloud 2! A great look at a fantastic location in the game as a part of the last weekly theme. As always, remember to load your own blogs into the Communit...
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Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City, rated for PlayStation 3


Jan 23
// Jim Sterling
The ESRB has rated both Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City for PS3 releases. Sony Computer Entertainment America is noted as the publisher, since these games are slated to arrive on the PSN as "PS2 Classics....
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Original Killzone coming to PlayStation Network Jan 24


Jan 11
// Jim Sterling
The original Killzone is scheduled to infiltrate the PlayStation Network on January 24, in an announcement that came out of nowhere. It will be a straight port, not a revamped HD version, and it'll cost you $9.99.  Killz...
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NBA 2K12 welcomes back basketball, with basketball


Jan 05
// Brett Zeidler
So, I don't exactly follow basketball to any degree, but I remember hearing about the whole lockout controversy that prevented the NBA from starting last fall. Apparently the NBA has finally come to an agreement though, beca...
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Sony sends orb to celebrate Jak & Daxter's 10th birthday


Dec 09
// Jim Sterling
It was Jak & Daxter's tenth anniversary on December 4, and Sony decided to commemorate it by sending me a Precursor Orb today. This is a limited edition replica of the artifact, found in the Jak & Daxter series, ...
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Sony confirms Jak and Daxter collection for PlayStation 3


Nov 09
// Jordan Devore
We can't get enough of last generation's games, it seems. Up next to receive a high-def collection is the beloved Jak and Daxter series. Following prior rumors about such a retail package, and Siliconera's finding of a USK ra...
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The Jimquisition: The Ugly Secret of Horror Games


Oct 31
// Jim Sterling
It's Halloween, the day that St. Spooky was born for our sins. On this haunted occasion, I discuss what truly makes a horror game scary and decide that the worse a game looks, the better it is at frightening you. With l...
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Remember The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge?


Oct 29
// Jim Sterling
It's the weekend before Halloween, and my mind turns to thoughts of the spooky. After recently re-watching The Nightmare Before Christmas, I suddenly remembered its sequel, Oogie's Revenge. Never heard of the sequel? Well, it...

It Came from Japan! Shadow Tower Abyss

Oct 27 // Allistair Pinsof
Shadow Tower Abyss (PlayStation 2)Developer: From SoftwareReleased: October 23, 2003Current value: $50-75  Fan translation: No, and this guide is a must.For fans of: Dark Souls, King's Field, Arx Fatalis Shadow Tower Abyss was the last of its kind -- a Gothic dungeon crawler in which the player travels deeper and deeper into the darkness by every hour. Survival is based as much on skill in combat as it is on being resourceful and daring in exploration. The original Shadow Tower felt like a spin-off of the King's Field series but with a psychological horror twist (think Silent Hill's surreal, dark world). The enemies were stranger, the plot was more obtuse, and the game placed an emphasis on exploration. Very cautious exploration -- remember, these are the guys who made Demon's Souls and Dark Souls. In fact, Shadow Tower is the bridge between King's Field and Demon's Souls in that it shares many elements of both. Make no mistake, though, Shadow Tower Abyss is very much its own thing. Unlike Demon's Souls, the game takes place in one sprawling dungeon that becomes weirder the deeper you venture. I miss this aspect in modern games, including Demon's Souls. There is something unique about slowly traversing the layers of a mysterious dungeon, coming across traps, and discovering story details through random, discarded notes (not that I can read any of them in this particular case). As much as I loved Demon's Souls, its divided levels didn't capture the sense of danger and mystery you expect to find in a From Software dungeon crawler. Level hubs and checkpoints take away from the atmosphere and danger that a game like Abyss embodies. Unlike the PlayStation debut, Abyss has a decent amount of variety within its world. Through the swamp pits filled with poisonous clouds, a scenic cliff side, and the abstract neon glow of later areas, From Software provides an incentive to explore this dark, haunted world by virtue of its design and pacing. Whenever you start to grow tired of an area, you soon find yourself facing off against a boss or discovering a key to the exit. The action at the core of the game is repetitive, but that's to be expected of the genre. Whether you take to it or not will depend on how you feel about a good, old-fashioned dungeon crawl. Despite the similarities shared with the King's Field series, From Software decided to give these games a different name for a reason. They are pretty peculiar, mechanically speaking. For starters, the unorthodox controls may be hard to adjust to for some players. Looking up and down is restricted to the back shoulder buttons, and strafing is left to the front shoulder buttons. This is because the right stick is used for attacking. Moving the stick side to side registers as a slash attack, up as an overhead slash, back as a back slash, and inward (R3) as a forward thrust. Different weapons are optimized for different attacks, which also deal more damage to certain enemies. The biggest difference between Abyss and other games lies in its leveling system -- rather, the lack of one. Not really. Your strength increases through exploring and collecting defeated enemies' souls (sound familiar?), but all your other stats are completely dependent on items and weapons. You'll occasionally come across an item, usually hidden away, that will let you upgrade dexterity, endurance, and all the other standard stats. For the most part, you'll be depending on weapons to give you better stats. This wouldn't be so nerve-wracking if the items weren't always on the cusp of breaking. Like Demon's Souls, the game feels like a survival horror title during its opening hour. You creep around in the dark with very little resources, terrified of any enemy encounter. Since the enemy A.I. is pretty dumb and easy to take advantage of, you'll soon find yourself breezing through areas. Nevertheless, combat remains fun due to the variety of weapons, which range from medieval pikes to assault rifles. You can only equip two weapons at time, so choosing the right combo will go a long way toward your survival. If you are a fan of dark, moody dungeon crawlers, Abyss is a unique game that shouldn't be missed. What it lacks in detail and polish, it makes up in atmosphere and art direction. I'd love to see another Shadow Tower sequel, but sadly, I don't think we'll ever get one. The modern crop of gamers like to have their games divided up for them and conveniently sprinkled with checkpoints. The design philosophy behind Shadow Tower, or any good traditional dungeon crawler, goes against what makes modern games popular and accessible. It's too bad that Abyss was never brought to the West, despite being mostly localized. You can't blame publishers for not wanting to take a chance when similar From Software titles failed to find a market over here. Demon's Souls is a genius game for keeping many aspects of a dark, Gothic dungeon crawler intact while appealing to a wide audience. However, returning to Abyss shows that something was lost in that transition. There is something unique about being lost in the darkness of Abyss, searching for an ammo clip, that can't be replicated in modern titles. Sometimes you want to explore a game's world, and sometimes you just want to get lost and let the gloomy atmosphere consume you. In other words, dungeon crawlers are the post-punk of videogames, and I love my post-punks, dammit! --------------------------------------- What is your favorite dungeon crawler? Do you miss the days when it was possible it get lost in a large world? Would the addition of guns ruin the Demon's Souls series?   [Dale North's favorite beverage + videogames = ???]
It Came from Japan! photo

[It Came from Japan! is a series where I seek out and review the weirdest, most original and enjoyable titles that never left the Land of the Rising Sun.] Along with churros and KFC, dungeon crawlers are one of those r...

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AHHHHH! JAK & DAXTER HD COLLECTION IS COMING!


Oct 11
// Chad Concelmo
Pardon my all caps excitement, but I am a huge fan of the three main Jak and Daxter games on the PlayStation 2, and if Naughty Dog's Game Director Justin Richmond is to be believed, an HD compilation of the successful PS2 tri...

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