List Reflection: Batman: Arkham Asylum Edition

So, Asylum placed at #11.  I’m just not ready to say it’s better than Mass Effect and let it hang out in the top ten.  That said, I’m feeling like there was a delta between ten and eleven…Dynasty Warriors is now at #12…but I can see tons of games going above it. Batman fits nicely in there, not as a threat to the top games but as a middle tier experience.  Also, I’ve got twenty games in my list!  Whoa.

Next Review: Crimson Shroud

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(XENOGEARS)Tough one.  My placement of Xenogears at #3 reshapes the top five a little bit.  It’s kind of telling, I suppose, that the Two and Three spots are going to games with a lot of developer crossover…in particular the composer Yasunori Mitsuda.  Sometimes I even think of Chrono Cross as a refined Xenogears type of game.  A ‘what if’.  Chrono Cross suffered from no budget or time constraints, no creative shackles…things that some people think destroyed Xenogears.

For the people who feel the same as me, though, Xenogears is a work of art.  As beautiful (if unfinished) as the painting of Sophia herself.  There is a sadness in me when I reflect on Xenogears and not because of these constraints or lost potential, but because the game itself has an almost sorrowful undertone to it.  The ‘happy’ ending does little to lighten the overall mood of a game with themes as dark as Xenogears’.  Lost love, envy.  Death, torture and murder.  Corruption in the government and in the people.  War.

All said and done, Xenogears is amazing and deserves a high place on my list as well as a spot in video game immortality.

I’ve said things like this before that seem to end up changing but I’m fairly certain that the top three might be locked in.  Maybe even the top five.

Now Playing: Resident Evil 2
Just Finished: Mass Effect 3, Resident Evil
Next Review: Batman: Arkham Asylum

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List Reflection: Final Fantasy XIII Edition

It was pretty hard for me to write about Final Fantasy XIII.  My dislike for the game is accurately depicted by its placing pretty low in my list.

The hard reality that I think I might be running into here is that Square Enix just doesn’t make stuff I like anymore.  And why is that?  Many if not all of my favorite games come from this developer, or rather the long lost SquareSoft that once was.  Is it the exodus of my favorite developers?  Probably.  XIII most definitely has a feel that is entirely new and not in the sense that “new” can sometimes mean “good”.  Much of what once made Final Fantasy great wasn’t evolved or progressed but mostly ignored or made unrecognizable.

Remember in, like, every single FF ever you could find a room somewhere near the beginning of the game where a bunch of tutorial NPCs just sat around waiting to teach you every basic thing you’d need to know to succeed in the coming adventure?  You could argue that this idea, much like world maps, is an artifact of an earlier time that’s no longer necessary.  I would disagree.  I think something like that is exactly what Final Fantasy XIII needs.  All I wanted was someone to just sit down and explain to me the inner workings of every weird system in this game.  Instead, I found myself seeking answers on FAQs or from people I’d known who might’ve played the game…things of that nature.  Are we past a point in video games where tutorials are worthwhile?  Was this brought on by the ease of internet use?  I certainly wouldn’t have been insulted had there been some room in some town (oops) somewhere where I could chat up some wise NPCs or even get into a tutorial battle of some kind.  They did a half-assed job explaining things and that left me frequently frustrated, attempting to discover the quirks, nuances and subtleties of almost everything in the game.

Although it’s not like explanations of any kind would’ve made me feel better about it all.  There’s no reasoning or tutorial in the world that can excuse all of Final Fantasy XIII’s shortcomings, it would’ve just been slightly less agonizing to get through.

As far as I’m concerned the only game currently worse on my list is DOAX2 and that’s really only because it’s not much of a game at all.  I’d also like to take a second here to say on a greater scale that FFXIII is easily the worst Final Fantasy game in the series.  Yes, X-2 is better…much better.

Now Playing: Final Fantasy VI, Yakuza
Just Finished: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Next Review: Xenogears

List Reflection: Dynasty Warriors 7 Edition

So DW7 cracked the top ten, which might be surprising.  Hell, I’m kind of surprised.  But consider what I’m about to say because it took more than a little thought to come to a conclusion.

Dynasty Warriors is a pretty stale franchise.  They’re all samey enough that no other entries in the series are actually even worth putting on the list.  BUT, like I said in the review… DW is pretty unique in the gaming business.  It’s unique enough to be the only place to find its one particular brand of action.  In fact it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that DW is its own sub-genre, one that other companies have constantly tried to emulate.  Being that I consider 7 to be the best in the series so far (which then makes it the best in the genre), I don’t think it’s hard to accept the idea that it easily earns its 10th spot on my list.  Hell, Mass Effect and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door wouldn’t even receive the “Best of Genre” tag that I just handed out to DW7.  Sure, they’re in bigger categories with tons more competition…but that’s why they’re higher.  Point is I think everything below it is worse.  Funny how lists work.

Will it stay in the top ten, hell no.  Does it deserve recognition?  Hell YES.  Recognition that isn’t awarded bountifully by critics to Dynasty Warriors, that’s for damn sure.  Dynasty Warriors 7 is hands-down an awesome game that’s tons of fun, period.  I love it and I guess that’s all that really matters.

Now Playing:  Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of The Lions, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Just Finished: Batman: Arkham Asylum, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (damn, been a long time since I’ve updated this huh?)
Next Review: Final Fantasy XIII

List Reflection: Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 Edition

Not a hard decision in the slightest.  I mean, DOAX2 is barely even a game at all.  So I guess we have a new all time worst game!  Nice.  Actually, I don’t think I can foresee anything I own settling down lower than DOAX2…so Worst Game Ever Made?  It’s certainly possible.  Damn shame too…all the integrity this game has.

Just Finished: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All
Now Playing: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations
Next Review: Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

List Reflection: Dissidia: Final Fantasy Edition

So the top ten wasn’t affected by Dissidia, and that may seem weird considering the somewhat glowing review I gave it.  I firmly believe that everything in place is correct and if you disagree with me I’ll punch myself in the face.

I was kinda shocked that Dissidia landed at 12th based on the write-up I just finished, because I like it quite a bit.  I guess what you have to know is that even though Dissidia might be good…it’s still a mash-up fighting game.  A mash-up fighting game with Tetsuya Nomura’s dirty hands all over it.  You also have to consider that there will be things coming in the future that will be much worse.  I know a lot of the games I’ve done lately are landing high…but I’ve also done some of my favorite games first.  Duodecim definitely seems to have what it takes to best Dissidia if everything I’ve read about it are true, so that will be an interesting thing to look forward to.  All said and done, anyone with a PSP and a history with RPGs should absolutely try Dissidia out!

I would like to take a second to formally encourage critiquing or questioning of the list updates.  If anyone has any further question on why ____________ is higher/lower than _______________, please feel free to ask because I have plenty of reasoning that never makes it up on here.  I’ll censor anything wildly insulting but other than that, fire away.

Just Finished: Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
Now Playing: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All
Next Review: Dead or Alive Xtreme 2

List Reflection: Chrono Cross Edition

Vagrant story was challenged finally!  Kinda.  Chrono Cross isn’t quite as good as VS but it’s about as close a race as it ever will be.  I would probably chalk it up to the fact that Chrono Cross’ story is way more convoluted, what with the world-splitting, parallel universe complexities.  Not a bad thing, just less understandable and slightly less explained.  To be honest, Chrono Cross is a phenomenal RPG that I can’t really find anything wrong with.  It’s definitely better than FFXII because it has so much more character.  I connected with CC way more than any other game I’ve ever played.  There is just some intangible thing about it that I can’t describe that really resonates with me.

And…it finally happened, FFXII isn’t the Vice President of this list anymore.  It was a good run for sure but Chrono Cross is just so incredible deep.  FFXII does have categories that individually win out: the battle and license board systems, the fact that is has voice acting and the writing/translation is superb.  That said, the sum of all of Chrono Cross’ parts are greater than those of FFXII.  It’s a more personally rewarding experience and more emotional with much better characters.  Looking forward…there may be one or two more that could best FFXII…but I won’t be sure until I do them.

Also…it’s becoming clearer that RE 4 can’t stand with the RPG heavy weights…but that’s just my personal preference shining through.  Also, here’s a question:  Will Resident Evil 4 be the last good Resident Evil game?  It sure looks that way right now.  Sad.  It’s funny to me how the list is altered when something places up near the top.  Like, Final Fantasy XI is no longer in the top five!  I really enjoy seeing how it all grows and evolves.  I mean I know that this wouldn’t be a top fiver but it was cool for a while when it was.  In a related point, Mass Effect will probably be pushed out of the top ten someday.  No big deal, I guess.  In what could only be called a premonition, I’ll give you a hint that there is modern console game that will place somewhere in the top five sometime in the future…and will have the crown of best game of this generation.  Can you guess what it is?

I’m just about to finish off Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door and it’s a frickin’ amazing game.  CANT WAIT…to see where it places.  The original Paper Mario is till a shocker to me.  I can now call it a great franchise.

There are a lot of aspects of Radiata Stories that were clearly inspired by Chrono Cross.  The major decision turning point, the army of characters, even the colorful and anime’ish art design is strikingly similar.  Now that I think about it, Chrono Cross is just Radiata Stories flipped on it’s ass and done right.

Have you heard/seen all of the new Kingdom Hearts spin-offs?  Me either, there’s too many for one person to follow.  I’m pretty disgusted with where Nomura has taken the franchise, but every time I come to my blog and read the KH review I remember a time when it was at least still an idea executed well-enough to be called a good game.  Now it’s all just a bunch of fucking nonsense.  Please just make KH 3, for Christ’s sake.

Mario RPG is still the bottom of the barrel.  It’s memorable but the nostalgic goggles were workin’ their magic on me for a long time.  The tyranny of the happy memory goggles is over, rejoice!

Chrono Cross has penetrated the upper sanctum of the list with ease.  I know I said this about XII but I don’t think there’s a whole lot out there that’ll challenge it.  I’m happy to finally get one of my favorite games of all time on the site.  Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together is just around the corner and it’s a full-fledged Matsuno game that I’ve never played.  I wonder what’s in store for me?

Currently Playing: Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
Currently Replaying: Final Fantasy VII
Next Up: Dissidia: Final Fantasy

List Reflection: Brutal Legend Edition

In a battle of current generation games Brutal Legend was edged out by Mass Effect.  I love that game, and as good as I think Brutal is…it didn’t hit the sweet spot as much as Mass Effect.  I love me some RPGs…and Sci-Fi stuff.

Brutal Legend‘s placement was an obscenely difficult decision for me because Paper Mario rocked my shit off pretty hard.  I don’t want to give the edge to Brutal Legend just because it’s a Tim Schafer game, so I tried to put that out of my mind.  As simple a statement as this is, if I had to pick between the two and the one I didn’t pick would disappear from existence I would pick Brutal.  I honestly and genuinely enjoyed every aspect of this game.  Killer soundtrack, awesome fantasy open-world to explore and cool characters/story.  Also, since I really clicked with the online multiplayer there are hours of game time to be had yet.

Paper Mario and Brutal Legend really are about equal in importance to me.  Since I’m not doing ties I had to submit to my somewhat odd (or illogical) tastes again.  Paper Mario is a more cohesive experience…it knows what it is and it does everything it’s trying to do.  Since I’ve always seemed to have a fondness for the slightly flawed though, that may have worked against it in some way.  I think for as ambitious as Brutal Legend is, there’s no way for it NOT to have a certain amount of problems…problems I’m willing to overlook because of that same ambition.  Also.. I initially wanted to give it the edge because of how long it was compared to Brutal, but with a  higher difficulty replay and lots off exploring/collecting + online battling, I’d say even Brutal Legend has given me more hours.  In the end, I guess it’s simply a matter of what game I like more or what that game as a whole means to me.  I’m not here comparing how polished something is or how much better one game’s control scheme is, I’m just picking the game that I like more and for my own purposes I really have to admit that I just liked Brutal Legend a teensy-weensy bit more.  An almost immeasurably small amount more.

Now that I have a top ten, that means I have my first game that DIDN’T MAKE THE TOP TEN!!  So sad, but deserved.  Then again, it doesn’t feel all that right to say that Kingdom Hearts is the “10th Best Game of All Time”, so we’ll save official titles like that until everything is said and done.  Well actually… I can call Vagrant Story “The Best Game Ever Made”, because it is.  I should come up with a bunch of special awards for games once I get further along like “Most Disappointing Placement”, or “Most Surprising Placement”.  That would be fun.