Second on these gaming posts.
This one’s all about genres.
No, I’m not gonna define the genres, you can check Wikipedia for those, but I am gonna talk about my favorites and mention a few games in each, little gems you might not know about.
Let’s kick it off with RPGS, my favorite.
RPGs, as you might be reading on Wiki, stands for Role Playing Games, which depending on what we’re talking about can be either fun or kinky, or both. My love for RPGs is for a simple reason. Story & Characters, well, that’s two reasons. All RPGs are story focused. The story might not necessarily be a good one, or long, or deep, but there is one, something that’s very important to me, as are the characters and their development throughout the story. Some RPGs also feature cool mechanics, and sadly to say, none of those based on Dungeons & Dragons have good mechanics, as their makers insist on translating the rules as they are to the pc, and it rarely works. Baldur’s Gate might be a classic of RPGs, but I find it to be one of the most boring games in the world.
As for the gems, here are a couple:
- Xenoblade Chronicles: A Wii exclusive, and if you know about Operation Rainfall, you might be familiar with the game. I still haven’t finished it, but I’m hooked, the story and characters all are compelling and the combat mechanics start out simple but get layers of complexity added on as the game progresses. The only weakness I see in the game is the Quests. You get a ton of them, that’s not the problem, it’s their names. Maybe it’s the game being honest or maybe it’s laziness but when you get a monster hunting quest and it’s called Monster Hunt Quest 3, you can’t help but feel a bit disappointed. Oh, and the game let’s you change the spoken language to Japanese, which I recommend. It’s a JRPG without random combat. That alone is pretty rare.
- The Last Story: Another Wii exclusive, made by Mistwalker, Final Fantasy’s creator’s studio. Drop dead beautiful game, in all aspects. I’m about halfway through, splitting time between it and Xenoblade, and so far haven’t found a single thing to complain. The characters have all very distinct personalities, there’s political intrigue, magic, war, betrayal. It’s definitely the last story, the ultimate story. The mechanics are simple, but their execution is flawless. The game can be quite easy, at least on normal combats, but boss fights are incredibly tough and the game shines on them. The game doesn’t feel JRPG, even though the art style is distinctly Japanese. No language options here, but the UK voice actors do a fantastic job, with some British and Scottish voices in the mix making characters come alive. This is how translated voice acting should be.
- Kingdom Hearts: Not really a hidden gem, I know, the KH series is pretty well known, but I consider it a gem because of how easily it’s dismissed by “hard-core gamers” because of its Disney ties. Let go of your prejudice and you’ll enjoy an amazing game with very fluid mechanics and a compelling storyline that while sometimes takes a headlong dive into silly territory, it’s nonetheless epic.
- Kingdoms of Amalur – Reckoning: Again, it might be well known, but to be honest, the circumstances behind the studio’s closing might be better known than the game itself. The game had issues, but I personally ranked it above Skyrim, and before fanboys jump down my throat, I’ll explain why. Skyrim has no soul, or at least none of its cast does. There’s nothing that ruins a RPGs immersion than bad voice acting and Skyrim’s the worst out there, even FFX’s forced laugh scene is an improvement. Besides, it says a lot, most of it negative, when a game sends you on endless quests and only a handful are interesting, and the fact the main storyline is pathetic only makes it worse.
But back to Reckoning. Sure, it’s a lot more simplified than Skyrim, especially on crafting and lockpicking, but aside from that, the world feels alive, the people have personalities, wants and desires. There are factions, and your actions affect them and you are given recognition, something I know for a fact people HATE about Skyrim. The combat is as fluid as you want it, letting you combine magic and sword strikes, and quick kills. The fate system is so-so, but it does a good job of letting you feel powerful, of knowing you are Epic. The story takes a few dips in quality but it’s there from beginning to end. The game could’ve benefitted from having areas level up with you, but it is a very good game. The one thing that is awful is the camera. It’s so close you’ll feel you’re stalking your own character.
- Magicka: The only word that describes this is CRAZY, also INSANE, MAD, HILARIOUS and many other fun and interesting words. Just look at the Magicka Vietnam trailer and you’ll get a very definite description of the game. Also, it has a ton of addons and expansions, the last one tackling Cthulhu of all.
Next up let’s go with my second favorite genre: ADVENTURE. The adventure genre is pretty varied, but most of the time it boils down to two types of games: The Zeldas and the Monkey Islands. Adventure or Action-Adventure and point & clicks. With games getting better and better stories and characters, as writers work harder to give you compelling stuff to move you forward, the difference between RPGs and adventures is mostly mechanics, with games featuring a level up or experience system being considered RPGs. The only types of adventure game I hate are the text-driven ones, where you had to tell the character what to do, bit by bit.
- Overlord Series: Who doesn’t like a game where you’re the bad guy? I call it the Sauron Simulator, which is a pretty cool name for a game, don’t you think? You play as the Overlord, a standard fantasy dark lord, with your army of minions, going around and screwing with the world. There are four games in the series and I recommend all but the DS game, which is awful. The Wii game is good but too short. The real games are on PC/PS3/Xbox360. The first game is fantastic, and it features an interesting take on the morality system. There’s no good and bad, there’s only “lesser of evils” and “downright nasty”. The more you lean towards nastiness and corruption, your appearance changes. Overlord 2 features a more distinct system, making you choose between domination and destruction. The second game is a bit weaker than the first, but it’s good as well.
- Muramasa The Demon’s Blade: A ninja game for the Wii, it’s a high-tension sidescroller. You choose two paths, a female and male ninja. Each has its own story, and while none are worthy of an award, they are both epic, beyond that actually, with the characters ending up fighting gods and demons. The gameplay is king here. Basically you have your sword, a Muramasa, and you go around acquiring more and more of them, the ancient blacksmith actually goes around with you. He’s a ghost, and he makes more and more swords for you to use, and each sword gives you different abilities. The game is quite simple, but it’s oddly satisfying to fight and defeat a screen filled with enemies.
- The Longest Journey: Before The Secret World, Funcom and Ragnar Tornquist made The Longest Journey and its sequel Dreamfall. I can only tell you to play them, and you’ll love them, period. Well, except for the combat parts on Dreamfall.
- Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain: I mentioned this one last time. It’s where it all starts. An isometric adventure game. You play as Kain, the villain in Soul Reaver, only here he’s a recently deceased and risen noble, thrown in the middle of a plot with the balance of the world hanging. Simple gameplay with a wide selection of abilities and gameplay options. It also features one of the earliest uses of a day/night system. Besides, Teleports-by-bats are cool.
- Pendulo Studios: Not the name of a game, but of a Spanish game studio. Their games are the Runaway Series, Hollywood Monsters, The Next Big Thing (aka, Hollywood Monsters 2) and Yesterday. The Runaway game are fantastic, some of the hardest adventure games I’ve ever played, with puzzles somewhere between frustrating and brilliant. Sadly, the difficulty lowers as we move forward in time. Runaway 3, The Next Big Thing and Yesterday are all fairly easy, though each has at least one puzzle that’ll stump you. I know they stumped me. The stories are pretty good too, with the protagonists being quite lovable.
- Advent Rising: The first and only in a cancelled trilogy. The game had many flaws, but what it had, it did right. The story was amazing and by the end you were left wanting more, a lot more. Add to the fact it was all written by Orson Scott Card and you’ll grieve for what could’ve been.
- Zack & Wiki: Say what you will about this game, but it’s got the honor of being the one that brought Point & Click adventures to the Wii, and it did it right. Sure, the plot was pretty much nonexistent and the characters where worthy of eugenics, but it was a very good game, very much underrated. Time will make sure people know just how good it was.
- Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender: This game is old, and I mean floppy disc old. Created by the now defunct Microprose this game had it all, humor, plot and even, as the title mentions, gender bending. I never finished it, one of my floppies was corrupt, but this game was good, and hard, hard as hell.
- Psychonauts: If there ever was an underrated and unappreciated game, this is it. A fantastic game made by Double Fine. It’s in desperate need of a sequel, give it a try and you’ll feel the same. To summarize a bit of the plot, you’re a new camper at a summer/training camp for psychics, so they may become Psychonauts, a psychic James Bond. Sound cool? The game is even better!!
Next are shooters, both 3rd person and 1st: I gotta say, I normally DESPISE shooters, mainly because they’re all the same, and by that I mean they’re all re-enactments of past and current wars, which bores the fuck out of me. But still, I have a few that I like:
- Star Wars: Republic Commando: if you haven’t played this game, you should. It’s old, I know, but it’s wonderful. The AI isn’t completely stupid, they do their jobs. The squad mechanics are pretty much perfect, a lot better than more modern games, like say Mass Effect or Gears of War, where your companions are idiots and don’t know how to follow orders. Also, it had chest-high walls and cover, but it didn’t devolve into cover based shooting, there weren’t buttons of “peep-out”, you had to take the risk and actually stand up.
- Metroid Prime: This one’s a bit odd. It’s FP, but it’s more Adventure than Shooter, but for sake of simplification I’ll leave it here. All three games in the series are amazing. The story is quite good, the mechanics are amazing and it translates Samus’ moves brilliantly into 3D, even better than Team Ninja did with Metroid Other M, and they kept it in 2D. Also, nothing quite feels like being behind the visor.
- Red Steel series: The first game was pretty much a tech demo for the Wii, with a story so weak it’s merely an excuse for you to go out and shoot people, but it did a few things right, just didn’t allow a lot of freedom, you couldn’t go around Katana-ing people, only could slash people with swords on their hands in duel-like fights. The second one had a bit more plot, not that it was particularly compelling, but it kept it all moving forward and the gameplay was all that was good about the first but perfected, and on this one you could go on slashing and hacking your way to the last boss, and gunplay and sword fight were easily interchangeable and chainable. Besides, you play as a cowboy in a long trench-coat with a revolver and a Katana, nothing screams Badass more than that, right?
As for strategy games, I’ve mentioned I hate Age of Empires, but I loved Age of Mythologies, because it stepped away from history lessons and just went for the fun. And the other games I recommend are the Spellforce Series, the second game more than the first. The first can get very much annoying and repetitive (and amazingly unfair…so it must be classic HA). I hate Civilization, all of them.
I’ve got nothing on fighter games, and even if I love puzzles, I hate puzzle only games.
Hope this list makes you want to buy or rent one of these games, they all deserve it.
If you have any game to contribute to the list, let me know in the comments, I’m always looking for a new gem for the collection
I could go on and give you full reviews on each of the games I mentioned, but that’s not the point of this post, I’ll leave that for another time.
Next time I’ll really rant about something, but I need a week’s worth of frustration at work to really get going. The weekend has just been too good, so I feel too happy to complain hahaha
See you around!