#10: SkyGunner (PS2)
Skygunner is a PS2 title that went mostly ignored, in part because it was made by Atlus, who refuses to release more than a handful of copies for their games, and refuses to do any sort of marketing. It's a dogfighting game, with plenty of anime influence- all the characters are short and stubby, with big colored eyes the same color as their hair, and all with rarely shown tails. There's also a heavy french influence- all the areas look distinctly french and everything has a french name. There are a few characters to play, each with their own part in the same story. It's an amazing game...but it does have a few issues that, for some people, may be gamebreaking. At times, the FPS dips quite a bit- the game simply cannot handle what is going on on screen. I do not mind this...it feels kind of like the game is going into slow-mo so you can cope with all the chaos. On top of that, the difficulty curve shoots up in the last couple of levels, out of nowhere- and that can be very frustrating. Regardless, if you manage to find a copy, pick it up. It's amazing.
This is another game that people rarely have heard of, and if they have heard of it it's only in the form of screenshots or youtube videeos made by people wondering what it is and where they can get it. The main draw of Graffiti Kingdom is that you use your magic painbrush wand to draw your character. You draw a body, arms, legs, tails, wings, etc, and they all function exactly as they should. Whoever programmed this game needs a few awards, because it is amazing how well it works. If you build a character with a horizontal body and 4 legs shaped like cat legs, it's going to move like a cat. If you build a character who has lower legs reacing all the way up the character drawing area, knees, and upper legs going all the way back down, then they will stand tall when you go to play as them. There's no lack of decorative pieces, such as pieces that spin or pieces that wiggle as you move isntead of staying stagnant(perfect for drawing hair), and there's markers to draw right on your character. There's no limit to what you can do- people have made famous characters from other games in incredible detail. You can absorb attacks from other enemies by taking on their form(note that every enemy in the game is creatable by and in fact seems created from the character drawing system), and you pick the movement type and attacks and voice of all your characters. This is just amazingly fun to do. The game is short, though. It isn't necessarily long enough to make doing this worth it(Its worth it for yourself...but not in regards to playing the game- it simply isn't necessary). It's also not very hard. But who cares? You'll probably spend more time playing with character creation than with actually playing the game. Those are the only things wrong- it's too short and it is too easy. It's beautiful to look at, fun to play with, and takes time to get great at. If you're lucky enough to find it like I was, buy it. I'd go so far as to say it is a must have game, even though it is short and easy. Flaws like that don't always destroy a game, if it makes up for it in other ways..which is the whole point of this list!
I imagine anyone who sees this game on the list is going to expect me to complain about the "Werehog" levels of the game. Well, you're wrong. The Werehog, or Nighttime, levels of the game are just fine. They control just fine, they work just fine, there's nothing wrong with them- except two things- At times, Sonic doesn't have a shadow! And with such little room for making errors, not being able to tell exactly where you are in the are can be a big hinderance. These levels are also rather long, which can be a pain if you didn't intend on sitting there playing for so long. The game, however, is the best Sonic has ever had. The daytime levels are beautiful and some of the best visuals I've ever seen. They're all diverse, and they're a big refreshing change from other games- all the levels are natural or surrounded by nature, rather than being a mix of industrial areas and the like. The game is fast and full of adrenaline in the daytime, and slow and challenging in the nIght. The music is all beautifully epic and orchestrated, and matches each and every level perfectly. There's DLC for almost every world in the game, and Sega supported the game wonderfully. It's amazing.
Fable...where do we start with Fable? Fable is a game that was touted by its lead designer, Peter Molyneux, to be...well, to be a lot more than it was. The game was supposed to have your character play through a life in an epic open world with all sorts of freedom and etc. But in the end, it was rather basic and scripted, and you're an adult for 98% of the game. Of course, that doesn't really matter much, because the game we did get was pretty amazing despite being nothing like what it was expected to be. The world is rather big, the game is long, the plot keeps you interested, there's tons of replayability in terms of leveling your character, there's customization all over the place about how you look and how you fight, and there's also the rather well-done system of morality. While most moral choices are black or white, they do have more effect than other games- your character's appearance changes drastically depending on your alignment. The game is, on the other hand, pretty clunky. The menus can be strange to navigate, and your character often feels very top-heavy when running. Fighting can feel clunky, too. That's about the only real problem with the game- it is undeniably clunky. NPC witticisms are spouted constantly, and while amusing do repeat quite a bit. The world is also rather linear, but still huge and very pretty to look at, with a ton of variety. It's a great game, it just has a few minor control issues.
Space Channel 5! Originally on the Dreamcast, it's a rhythm game of sorts. It's more like playing a game of Simon- another character will say something like "Up Up Up Up Down Down CHU!" in time with the music, then it switches to you and you have to do the same with proper timing. The second game was also on the dreamcast...but only in Japan, and only Japan and Europe for the PS2. The Special Edition for the PS2 contains both games, for those of us in the US! The second game is significantly better than the first, and fixes every issue with the first game. Issues such as poor backgrounds- the entire game was played on 2-dimensional flat images, and it often just looked...wrong. The 3D characters were always in front of everything in the background, and often not aligned properly. The timing window was also broken! This significantly gimps the first game, until you get used to it. The problem here is that you shouldn't have to get used to it. Once you do, it works, though. If you do manage to get used to the poor timing, the game is amazing. It's more than just playing Simon- there is of course a plot, and you walk around the area(automatically) and play along with the music, which changes for different situations. You save other people who are "Captured by the dance", who then follow you dancing in time! The more people you catch, the better the music, and the worse you do, the worse the music sounds. There are flourishes every so often where everyone following you will do a short dance. If you're doing poorly, everyone will shuffle and mope instead of dancing. It all comes together to make an amazing experience that will undoubtedly give you goosebumps, assuming you appreciate PERFECT BLENDS of music, visuals, and gameplay. The second game does it even better, but both are fantastic.
Dead Rising is probably one of the best games for the 360. You are Frank West(He's covered wars, y'know), and you're doing some investigative photography...a town, with people who are acting strange. They're pretty obviously zombies, as you quickly discover when dropped into the Willamette Mall and utterly surrounded by them. Hundreds of zombies on screen at a time, using anything you find as a weapon, all sorts of secrets to find, and full free-roaming gameplay along with a set storyline make for an awesome game. Thing is, it is very, very difficult. You level up when you kill tons of zombies to get tons of experience. And until you level up significantly, you can't really get very far in the game at all, so you end up dying a lot. For some people(me), the save system also is pretty confusing. You can start the game over...but you keep your level when you do. This confused me extensively- I was under the impression that it was impossible to die and reload a saved game, you had to start over if you died. I have no idea why I thought this, but when I first got the game, plenty of other people were under the same impression on the boards and were also confused about it. The save system is not flawed- it's just a tiny bit confusing at times. And there's also AI issues- saving other survivors is a pain, because they're not smart enough to run AROUND zombies instead of INTO them, and they'll often take on enemies they cannot handle. The game also relies on a mission system- at set times, you'll get a mission...and if you missed it, you missed it. It's gone. You'll have to restart the game if you want to do it, so you do feel rushed at times. There are also "Boss Battles" in the form of, well, insane people, and they're very, very, very strong insane people. A challenge isn't necessarily a bad thing, though, and the game does get harder as you go along just like a game should. It flows nicely and is easy to control and figure out, and has some of the best gameplay I've ever seen. It's relatively cheap now, and not too hard to find. It's a fun zombie game that doesn't take itself too seriously, but still has a nice strong plot going for it.
Black and White is a game focused on morality choices...from the position of a god, rather than some sort of mortal character. Your place as god is to make the people happy(or make them suffer) and raise a loving, helpful creature(or a jackass creature who poops on people's houses). You have a ton of freedom. You assign villagers to breed, farm, collect resources. You choose what buildings in your village go where, and are mostly just set loose upon the world to do what you pleae, with the exception of a few set goals you must do to move on to the next area. There are plenty of worlds, plenty of difficulty, plenty of options, plenty of creatures. The controls are iffy, though- moving around the map relies on clicking and dragging, which to this day I still have trouble doing. Your creature isn't the smartest animal to walk the earth, and often will seem to outright ignore everything you want him to do. He does learn basic things pretty well, though- he'll easily learn not to eat people(or to eat them all he wants) and things like that. There are magic spells you learn that are executed by way of mouse gestures, which are relatively unresponsive. It's also easy to accidentally throw things when you mean to just move them, which can be devastating if you're trying to be good and keep chucking women across town or throwing rocks into the nursery. The game is very fun, though, and it is quite long. Your creature shows unmistakable change in power as you train him(having him carry a rock around actually makes him stronger, and he will grow from the size of a house to the size of a mountain), and the concept is wholly unique. There's a lot of personality to the game and it actually looks pretty good, even today. It's a nice mix of Sim City and...well, and an original concept. There's simply nothing like it(Well, except the sequel.). It's fantastic.
Oooh, Sonic Adventure 2. Everyone loves Sonic Adventure 2! And why not? It's a fun game, with lots of different types of levels, two storyline paths for the same plot, all sorts of cool areas and bosses. There's 5 emblems to earn per level, meaning there's lots of replayability, and there's even a 3D remake of Green Hill Zone, should you have the patience to unlock it. This one is so high up on the list, though, because it has A LOT of flaws, on top of being an amazingly awesome game. The cutscenes have that generic rock the game is famous for, but it's far too loud instead of being background music, and the characters are almost talking over it. The controls are clunky loose at the same time. There are 4 forms of gameplay- two of which are not always that great. These would be the robot mech levels, which are kinda slow and annoying to play, because you use a laser to lock onto enemies before you attack them, and most of the time the level is covered with a loud BEEEEEEEEP noise as you try to shoot enemies. The other is emerald-finding levels, where you navigate a fully 3D(Up, down, left, right, instead of just paths) area to find hidden pieces of the chaos emerald. These are just...they're horrible. They're just plain horrible. They are the only part of the game that is absolutely unenjoyable in every way. Luckily, there are few of them, and the rest of the game is so fantastic it makes up for that! The Sonic/Shadow levels are fast and fun to replay for time trials and all the other emblem trials. The bosses are nice old-school 3D platformer bosses. The music, while cheesy, is cool. There's also the CHAO GARDEN! The best part! Absolutely addictive, the game lets you raise adorable creatures called Chao which are ridiculously in-depth for what a tiny part of the game they are. A side game, with this much effort put into it, deserves significant praise. However- it's also a reason I chose the Dreamcast version over Sonic Advenutre 2 Battle. The chao garden had a Black Market that was ONLY accessible by connecting to the internet. This right here is just bad design- because now, years later, it is impossible. There is no way to get there, and that severly gimps one of the best parts of the game. Luckily this does not apply to the Gamecube remake, but I felt it was worth mentioning. The Gamecube remake remains faithful and does nothing but improve on the game, but still has the control and gameplay issues the original did. Likewise, it's still a great game.
I love this game. I absolutely love it. It's part of a Japanese series of games that are basically budget titles- the Simple 2000 series(This is Volume 39, to be precise.). This one was lucky enough to get an english translation(and I use that word loosely- you'll see). It's something like Sim City, except simpler. The game is still deep and challenging, but there's no budget crisis to worry about. The ridiculous plot is that it is the year 2000, and communication is dying. People only communicate by way of electronic devices, and this somehow affects superheros. Or something. It's really not very sensible. But your job is to be the METROPOLISMAKER! And you set out with your giant chalk and cell phone to do so. There are 6 levels. You use your giant chalk to mark roads, and a book of applicants to place buildings. You can talk to every single citizen, and become their friend(which adds them to your phone book). The goals are things like "Reach 200 citizens" and things like that. Thing is, your citizens have desires. They may want a junior high school. How do you get one? Well, you ask around. People will "introduce you" by giving you an applicant if they know of one, or will tell you who might know. So making friends is important. The game gets harder and much more diverse with each level. The second, for example, wants your town to have a majority of office buildings, and you start iwth ONLY office buildings. This is pretty tough to handle(unless you had lots of friends from the first level to call up and ask to move over). It's awesome! But it's biggest problem is translation. It's a budget title, so the graphics are excusable(they're not that bad, except for character models being constantly repeated and animations being less than beautiful), but the translation is just ridiculous. Let's say you want to ask someone to tell you some gossip. You go to talk to them, and they say "What is it this time? My hobby is being beautiful." So you choose gossip, and they say "I like to party and have a fun time with girls!" and it will say "They have told me about the Party girls". Now you want to be introduced to someone. So you ask for help finding someone to make a place for families. "I don't know anyone to help the place for families's complaint.", they say. But this conversation made you friends! So now they say "I am watching my favorite TV show. Here, I'll give you my number.". As you can see...the translations are extremely loose. It's not a burden on gameplay, though, since the characters mostly spout nonsense, and constantly wish to tell you their hobbies. It does get a little repetitive listening to everyone blabber, but you can mostly ignore it. Sometimes it can be hard to find the place people want you to find, and they will get PISSED(their head turns orange, their eyes wholly white, and extremely angry). What's also annoying is that the only characters who ever know anyone important are females. Talking to males is useless- they never ever ever have the answers for you, unless they work at a school or police station or other profession. Despite this, it's a very addictive game with lots of hours of gameplay, and it never really gets old. I've never gotten past stage 4, but I have played up to that point repeatedly. It just doesn't get boring, and there's nothing like it. Besides, if you want a city builder for the PS2, it's basically your only choice. Not that that is a bad thing- because it's great.
This is one of my favorite games ever. You are a reporter on your way to the man-made Stiver Island, when an earthquare hits. You wake up and everyone is gone- escaped, apparently, not realizing you were there. So you set out to find a way off the island and for rescue, finding a girl named Karen early on, and later meeting a photographer, your boss(still holed up in his office, wondering about the earthquakes), and another girl who is looking for her brother. The gameplay is comparable to a survival horror. You wander around, you collect items, there are various puzzles, there's no combat, and you must stay hydrated. The horror comes not from enemies, but from natural disaster. Aftershocks cause buildings to toppled over and just miss you, rivers to rush intensely, the ground to crack beneath your feet. It's intense to play, but rather serene. There are multiple story paths and multiple endings(Eight, I believe). The game has a few frame rate issues when buildings are falling or during aftershocks. It can be difficult to control at times, and it feels a lot like a budget title. It can be quite difficult when you don't know what to do, and there's not a lot of human interaction that really helps. What interaction there is in the game is nice, and pulls the plot along nicely. At times, it can be a bit too difficult or unforgiving. Think "walking tightrope-style across a steal beam hanging over a tunnel full of burning busses" or "riding a self-made raft down a raging torrent of water as pieces of bridges fall in your path". At the same time, these sequences make your hands sweat and are pretty intense. The game ha a nice plot and it's fun to play. It's a fantastic game. It has a sequel, Raw Danger, and will soon have a third game on the PSP. I recommend checking them out.
The idea, here, is that certain flaws do not automatically make games bad. FPS issues? These are not a gamebreaker. Clunky controls? Who cares, so long as they're managable and the game is great otherwise? Poor character models? Big deal, they're not atari sprites, so who cares? Each game on this list is absolutely fantastic, even though each and every one has distinct flaws that are hard to miss. The problem is that gamers are so set on perfection that they let the tiniest flaw ruin a game for them, or they let one poor aspect make the whole game seem like a failed product. But that's not true! Look at the game as a whole. Flaws are fine, as long as they aren't so large in number that they destroy the whole. There's nothing wrong with a game having problems, and if you play games thinking otherwise, you're simply not going to be satisfied with a vast majority of games you try.
List by cantibacterial (07/23/2009)
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