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The Ten: Updated Wednesdays-Fridays-Sundays

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Game Night- or, what video games I play and why they're awesome.

So there's a game called Monster Hunter 3: Tri and I've clocked over a hundred hours into it- I just had an intense game session earlier tonight. This article is dedicated to those who have done the same. Trust me, it's not hard.

I thought I'd run-down some of my favorite video games, as it seems to be a topic I go back to quite often. This is a stream of consciousness blog, and I'm thinkign about this right now- SO DEAL WITH IT. These are in no particular order, though I get a little biased towards the end. We'll start with the aforementioned title, Monster Hunter 3: Tri.

So what makes this game so awesome? Well, it's the first time I played a Monster Hunter game- and probably the first time for a lot of other US gamers. Monster Hunter is a pretty established franchise, with several titles under its belt. But Tri was the first Monster Hunter released on a Nintendo console, which means I had to get it. I have to say, despite the shallow premise of the game- hunting monsters, if you didn't pick up on that already- this thing is chok-full of content. The armor and weapon systems are extremely deep, and no matter what, each fight is satisfactory. See, Capcom must have thought, "how do we engage players without having a storyline?" when they created this game, because honestly, that's the last thing you're going to think about when you play it. Sure, some random village is experiencing tremors, blah blah blah... You get to fight monsters. GIANT MONSTERS. WITH SWORDS. And yeah, it's not easy. Each monster has its own strengths and weaknesses- you could have a certain weapon you leveled up really nicely, but it could do jack-squat on the next foe you have to face. The monsters aren't your typical boss-monster fare, either. They flee to protect themselves, they summon help, they switch into rage mode, and they have no health bar. You get fifty minutes to kill these things, tops, and you don't know whether or not you're going to be able to make that limit. Of course, you can hop online and get a group of four to take on particularly nasty threats, but they multiplied the health of each monster in online play so that they'll give four players a tough time, too. And you are just a man, or woman, armed with a weapon, who has to fight them. The game is so addictive because it relies on actual skill rather than mashing a button, but also has chance involved as well- you can ALMOST miss that roll as a Lagiacrus comes barreling towards you and die, or a Great Jaggi can show up as an unexpected ally against a Barroth. It all comes off as an epic little romp of awesomeness, and its online community is some of the friendliest bunch I've ever met- oh, and you can fight other hunters online, too!

I remember the first time I ever saw Paper Mario, the Thousand-Year Door- it was at a little demo kiosk in Best Buy right around its release. I toyed around with it a little and decided I liked it very much. I wasn't sure how the entire game would pan out, so I took a chance and bought it.
Then, the nightmare began.
Seven years and four playthroughs later, Thousand-Year Door remains one of my favorite games of all time. The graphics don't need to be discussed, nor do they need to be improved- it's paper versions of Mario characters- you can't get any simpler than that. Yet, the battle system is so superbly done. I've done playthroughs boosting certain stats on my characters, finding new depth for them and changing the way the game is experienced. It is an RPG, but it's an RPG unlike any other, which is how they should be- unique, with gameplay that says, "YOU'RE ROLE PLAYING" without having to use the same formulas as other games.
What is so great bout Thousand-Year Door? You spend an entire chapter as a wrestler. The hilarious script that pokes fun at Mario games as well as other aspects of gaming. The Stylish Move system. The memorable characters. It's really that good- good enough to be a worthy successor of the Super Mario RPG name. Also, it has a tearjerker ending that made me a little emotional, and that's the way a game usually gets on my favorite list- if it incites an emotional response in me.

 I never had a Game Boy Advance- I went from the Game Boy Color to a Nintendo DS. So when I saw this on clearance for 19.99 on the way home from a camping trip, I bought it on a whim, thinking, "it's Zelda, it must be good." Never in my life was I so right.
Minish Cap takes all of the classic elements of Zelda and throws in DUAL WORLD GAMEPLAY where you shrink down super small and have fun. It is unfortunately very short, but it is a fantastically varied and fresh world filled with surprises and nods to its history and clever new twists with new items. The reason I love this game so much is because I beat it without anyone's help after I was stuck and managed to form Kinstone Connections with every single person I possibly could. Even if my story gives me emotional attachment, others agree that it's one of the best handheld Zelda games out there. And yes, the ending is sad.

LISTEN TO ME. I DON'T CARE WHAT SONIC IS NOW. I DON'T CARE IF SONIC 2006 WAS THE BIGGEST PIECE OF CRAP YOU EVER PLAYED. Sonic Adventure 2: Battle is one of the best games ever. EVER. It has high-speed action (this time in evil flavors), shooting, and digging for treasure, along with boss battles that sometimes made-sense and worked and sometimes didn't at all. It had KNUCKLES RAPS. It had the most ridiculously silly yet addictive minigame ever. Most of all, it had Live and Learn play as you fought a lizard with a space colony up its butt with two GLOWING HEDGEHOGS. And SHADOW makes me tear up every time I play the game!
Yeah, in retrospect, it sounds totally lame, but the mission mode in this game that gives it a Super Mario 64/DS kind of feel makes this game awesome. Give it a try if you don't want to hate Sonic.

What's going on? Why is James Bond's face in shadow? Fire? Car? Babes? Okay. Agent Under Fire is criminally underrated because it was released in a time when shooters like Halo were bursting on to the scene. Its plot (which is ridiculous), coupled with its multiplayer mode (which is ridiculous) and usable weapons (which are ridiculous) make for a really fun game, and the multiplayer is just as addictive as the original Goldeneye. It's nice to play through nowadays just to see how far we've come, yet at the same time remember how awesome it feels to make a grid out of trip mine lasers.

OH YEAH. STARCRAFT, BABY. ROSE-EATIN. GIMME SOMETHIN' T' SHOOT! YOU MUST CONSTRUCT ADDITIONAL PYLONS. KERRIGAN! I don't even need to explain why Starcraft is a good game- look at all those words I typed in caps-lock! But if you must know, Starcraft blends a war game with a solid story and three distinct factions into an unstoppable fun-times machine. They reward you with more story with every completed mission. They had an amazing online battlenet. They had a world editor that allowed you make your own maps- complete with way too many soldiers. It's kind of unfair to put this game on the list, because its so well received that I shouldn't need a reason. Starcraft is boss.

I'm not really a huge fan of the Final Fantasy series, so when I first played this game, I was skeptical. But Crystal Chronicles is a solid multiplayer experience that is chok-full of fun. Deciding who should get the Magicite drastically changes the way each map is played- you can have straight up healers or go for magic-combinations or fun. Each of the four races is fun to play, and the game, despite its repetitive formula, is fresh each time. It's also one of the prettiest titles on the Gamecube. I enjoyed this game so much that I went out and bought every sequel- Ring of Fates is decent and attempts to make a solid single player experience out of the game, but Echoes of Time is vastly better, upping customization or your party to extremes, having a better single player story, and a ton of maps to play. The Crystal Bearers is what it is. Many people criticize its minigame craziness an lack of a good world map, but I love the crap out of this game. The ability to get lost in the world and have a wonderful time doing so is very therapeutic. The graphics are wonderful, and the gameplay mechanics work very well. The combat is surprisingly deep- you would think that it would be- throw stuff at other stuff to do damage- and you'd be right, but you can also use enemy abilities to deal more damage- coupled with equipment abilities, you can really start to see the depth of the game. Plus, there's a ridiculous achievement system that requires you using your head to come up with solutions on how to find things. Plus, its a good single player experience- at least, up until the final boss fight.

 It should come as no surprise to thoe of you who read that I like Mincraft- I've mentioned posting my own world several times (and never got around to it... cough cough). Minecraft is simple, fun, and addictive. You must survive and build in a world littered with underground caverns and dangerous mobs in single player. You can set it to peaceful and construct your own masterpiece. You can set it to hard and see how long you can survive. And then, when you go onto a multiplayer server, you are introduced to pvp, factions, role play, and the like. There's no limit to what can be done- and the game isn't even finished yet. Further updates will include leveling systems, new mobs, items, and more. This is one game you'll want to keep you eye on! Of course, I'm building my own adventure map in it- a world filled with dungeons and traps and the like. I eventually will post it. I swear.

You know, I told myself that I wouldn't have any duplicate series on here, but I think I need to defend my stance on this game. Yes, I have played Ocarina of Time and yes, I love it. But I like Twilight Princess more. Many people think it's just a rehash of all that made Ocarina good, and I can't really argue with that- the games have many similarities. But they also have a ton of differences, as well. I love Twilight Princess because it's essentially a souped up version of Ocarina. It has the graphics that the original game deserves, plus twice the immersive experience- a fleshed out story with side-characters, quests, and more that really makes it a completely fantastic game. Each dungeon, while rehashing some elements from older Zelda titles, is fresh and utilizes the items of the game to their fullest extent. Speaking of which, the items are just awesome. Double clawshots? Dominion Rod? Spinner? Awesome. It also takes a minimal part of Ocarina- horse riding- and turns it into something that you can do anywhere and enhances combat and exploration. Even the dual world gameplay, which some criticize, adds a whole new twist to the game. Plus, the ending is sad. ERGO, awesome game. One of the best, in my opinion. Which is why I'm excited for the next Zelda adventure.

If I think of any more, I'll put them up. Honorable mentions-
Super Smash Bros. Series
Super Mario Sunshine
Sonic 3 and Knuckles
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Dragon Warrior Monsters

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