DS Platform RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com DS RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network How to Get the Metal Cap in Super Mario 64 https://www.gameskinny.com/cmvyn/how-to-get-the-metal-cap-in-super-mario-64 https://www.gameskinny.com/cmvyn/how-to-get-the-metal-cap-in-super-mario-64 Mon, 28 Sep 2020 10:57:07 -0400 Josh Broadwell

Mario literally wears many caps in Super Mario 64, including the Metal Cap. Like the Wing Cap, it can be a little tricky to find, but it's key to nabbing certain Stars. As with the original 1996 version of 64, having the Metal Cap makes navigating certain hazards a whole lot easier in the 3D All-Stars version of the game.

Here's how to quickly get the Metal Cap in Super Mario 64 and where you need it to get some extra Stars.

Get the Metal Cap in Hazy Maze Cave

You'll have to progress a bit in Mario 64 before you can get the Metal Cap. It can be found in a sub-stage in Hazy Maze Cave, the game's sixth level, but you can't get there until you face off against Bowser for the first time in "Bowser in the Dark World."

How to get to "Bowser in the Dark World"

To do that, gather at least eight Stars, head to the big Star door in the Castle Mezzanine area, and drop down the trap door in the hallway with the Peach/Bowser painting.

Deal with Bowser, and then make your way to the Castle basement. The pool of liquid metal there is your portal to Hazy Maze Cave.

Navigating Hazy Maze Cave to get the Metal Cap

Once you arrive, head left. Long jump (run+crouch+jump) over the gap, and follow the path down to the underground lake.

Swim over to Dorrie, and ignore the Star on the island for now. Jump on Dorrie and face toward the ledge with a door. A friendly beastie will ferry you over.

Go in, deal with the obstacles, and drop down into another metal pool. This takes you to the Cavern of the Metal Cap.

Work your way to the end of the cave, and activate the green ! switch. If you get caught in the current, it shoots you back out front of Peach's Castle, so don't do that.

Now, go back to where the transparent green block was when you first landed in the Cavern of the Metal Cap. Hit it to grab the Metal Cap, then gather up the eight Red Coins for a Star.

Like the Wing Cap, the Metal Cap only lasts for 60 seconds, but you can refresh it or get a new one by hitting another green block.

Metal Cap Stars in Mario 64

After the Cavern of the Metal Cap, there's only one spot where you absolutely need the Metal Cap to acquire a Star, though there are a couple where having it makes life easier.

Dire, Dire Docks "Through the Jet Stream" Star

The only necessary one is Dire, Dire Docks for the "Through The Jet Stream" Star. Once you swim through the rings and activate the Star, you need to turn metal to withstand the jet and acquire the Star.

Hazy Maze Cave "Navigating the Toxic Maze" Star

The Metal Cap makes dealing with the miasma easier in Hazy Maze Cave's "Navigating The Toxic Maze" since you don't take damage from the poison while metal.

Wet-Dry World Stars 

Going metal is also helpful in dealing with the underwater portions of Wet-Dry World where you're raising and lowering water levels, though you don't need it for any specific Star.

That's all you need to know about how to get the Metal Cap in Super Mario 64. If you're looking for more help with 3D All-Stars, be sure to check out our other 3D All-Stars guides, including how to get Yoshi and complete Blooper Surfing in Super Mario Sunshine. If you're trying to blast away the wall in 64, we've got you covered there, too

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Super Mario 64: How to Get the Wing Cap https://www.gameskinny.com/usj2t/super-mario-64-how-to-get-the-wing-cap https://www.gameskinny.com/usj2t/super-mario-64-how-to-get-the-wing-cap Fri, 25 Sep 2020 12:35:22 -0400 Josh Broadwell

The Wing Cap is Super Mario 64's most iconic item, but finding it isn't the most straightforward thing in the game. Of course, you're going to want to grab the Wing Cap because not only is it a cool-looking addition to Mario's wardrobe, it helps you get floating coins and stars, and it helps slow Mario when he's falling.

Our guide covers how to get the Wing Cap, how to control Mario in flight, and how to complete some of the trickier Wing Cap Star challenges in Super Mario 64 for 3D All-Stars

How to Get the Wing Cap in Super Mario 64

You'll need to gather 10 Stars before the Wing Cap becomes available. That should be easy enough, with four stages available almost from the start.

However you choose to get the Stars, head back to the Castle Lobby once you've acquired your 10th Star. There's a shaft of light shining on the sun icon in the lobby. Switch the camera mode so it's looking over Mario's shoulder, then look up at the light.

You'll be transported above the Castle and automatically have the Wing Cap, but there's one more step to get the Wing Cap outside this stage.

Head down to the platform, and activate the red switch to make all red blocks solid. These red blocks cough up Wing Caps in certain levels moving forward.

The Wing Cap only lasts for 60 seconds. Hit the red block again to either refresh the cap or acquire it anew.

Fly around the towers and collect all the Red Coins to earn a special Star.

Super Mario 64 Wing Cap Controls

Mario's Wing Cap controls use an inverted scheme.

  • Landing: Do a Ground Pound (press "ZL") to land.
  • Takeoff: To fly, do a triple jump, and Mario stays in the air after the third jump.
  • Flight controls: Move the left stick down to make Mario fly up, and move the stick up to make him fly down

How to Complete "Wings to the Sky"

The next Wing Cap challenge is "Wings to The Sky." It's in the first stage, Bob-omb Battlefield, and you can complete it once you've activated the red switch as mentioned above.

"Wings to the Sky" is a Coin collecting mission, but this one has you soaring through Coin rings instead of collecting Red Coins.

Once you start the level, head right, near the first ramp, and hit the now-solid red block to grab the Wing Cap. Now go back to the start of the stage.

Enter the cannon there, then aim roughly near the floating island. Accuracy doesn't matter here, since Mario starts flying at the end of the blast arc.

It's best to land on the island now, then refresh the Wing Cap at the block there.

Then, drop into the cannon on the island, and aim at the Coin rings. Aim just a touch higher than the center Coin, and fire the cannon. Depending on how the flight goes, you may need to re-try a few times to get all of the coins, but there's no time limit.

Wing Mario Over The Rainbow

There's one other Wing Cap secret stage, opposite the entrance to Rainbow Ride. Go through the painting, and you'll start Wing Mario Over The Rainbow. It's much the same deal here: fly around, snag eight Red Coins, and get the Star.

That's it for how to get the Wing Cap in Mario 64, as well has how to use it and how to complete the "Wings in the Sky" challenge. Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more Super Mario guides.

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6 Nintendo Franchises With Games That Somehow Aren't Switch Ports https://www.gameskinny.com/oc0al/6-nintendo-franchises-with-games-that-somehow-arent-switch-ports https://www.gameskinny.com/oc0al/6-nintendo-franchises-with-games-that-somehow-arent-switch-ports Tue, 01 Sep 2020 11:00:01 -0400 Ethan Anderson

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Golden Sun

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Surely, what Golden Sun fans want most is a sequel to the third game in the franchise. Sadly, that seems a bit unlikely at this point, even though fans haven't forgotten those games for even a second.

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Golden Sun is an RPG series that started in 2001 on the Game Boy Advance. The second game came out the very next year on the very same handheld, while the third instalment launched on the DS in 2010.

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The first two were made available on the Wii U, but it's time for all three to make their triumphant return on Nintendo Switch. If Nintendo started porting GBA and DS games to the Switch, they'd have an insane amount of classics to pull from.

\n

Nintendo has so many beloved, older franchises tucked away, out of sight. It's time to bring the ones on this list, and so many others, back into the light. They've been slowly adding more games to the Switch's NES and SNES collection, but after three years, fans are looking for a bit more.

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Which classic franchises would you like to see on the current-gen console? Let us know over on Twitter

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/n/i/n/nintendo-pokemon-3a981.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/n/i/n/nintendo-pokemon-3a981.jpg","type":"slide","id":"213790","description":"

Pokemon

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It's honestly shocking that none of the past mainline Pokemon games have made it to the Nintendo Switch, even as ports.

\n

The 3DS Virtual Console added Red, Blue, Yellow, Gold and Silver, and Crystal not too long ago, so mainline Pokemon ports aren't out of the question.

\n

Even if Nintendo only brought back generations III to VI, fans would go wild. It's guaranteed money at this point.

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With the portable nature of the Switch, those Pokemon classics could still be played on the go, just like the good old days. Except, in theory, they'd be able to have better online functionality if brought back today.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/n/i/n/nintendo-fire-emblem-echoes-ea1f5.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/n/i/n/nintendo-fire-emblem-echoes-ea1f5.jpg","type":"slide","id":"213817","description":"

Fire Emblem

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Currently, the only Fire Emblem games available on the Nintendo Switch are Fire Emblem Warriors, and Fire Emblem: Three Houses. For a franchise that includes over 15 games, spanning from 1990 to the present, that isn't much of a selection.

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3DS titles such as Echoes, Awakening, and even the annoyingly disconnected Fates would feel right at home on the Switch thanks to their portable origins. It might be asking for too much, but a few Fire Emblem titles from the GBA could also be ported, just like they were on the Wii U. The GameCube installments seem too far out of the realm of possibility, though.

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Regardless, the return Fire Emblem's tactical RPG action and loveable casts could create tons of new fans while still managing to please the current ones who just want to comfortably replay old favorites.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/n/i/n/nintendo-metroid-prime-b7159.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/n/i/n/nintendo-metroid-prime-b7159.jpg","type":"slide","id":"213788","description":"

Metroid

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Metroid Prime 4 has had quite the rough development process, but it's being worked on as we speak. The team is even still in the process of bringing in various new artists and leads. 

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It's probably safe to assume that, by the time it does launch, it'll be the first 3D Metroid game that some players can get their hands on without having to buy an older console. If the Wii U's Metroid Prime Trilogy bundle comes to the Switch, that issue will be solved.

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The games in the trilogy supported both standard controllers and motion controls at different points, so the transition to the Switch's Pro Controller and Joy-Cons should be a smooth one.

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New players will be able to catch up while returning fans get a much-needed refresher leading up to Metroid Prime 4.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/n/i/n/nintendo-super-mario-galaxy-3b826.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/n/i/n/nintendo-super-mario-galaxy-3b826.jpg","type":"slide","id":"213789","description":"

Super Mario Galaxy

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Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel are some of the very best Mario games of all time. It'd be hard to find any Nintendo fan that would be disappointed if both games returned on the Switch.

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Just like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Super Mario Galaxy was rumored to be on its way to the console. Though, it was thought to be coming as a remaster, instead of just a port.

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The two-part series first began in 2007, with the sequel coming out three years later. It's been a while. However, the games' motion control features would fit perfectly with the Joy-Cons when playing at home, and who wouldn't want the option to play Super Mario Galaxy on the go, too? It's a no-brainer.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/z/e/l/zelda-wind-waker-812f4.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/z/e/l/zelda-wind-waker-812f4.jpg","type":"slide","id":"213787","description":"

The Legend of Zelda

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The 3D Zeldas should have some kind of presence on the Switch by now, if we're being honest. The Wii U Virtual Console had an amazing selection of Nintendo classics that included titles from the NES, N64, Game Boy Advance, and more. Numerous Zelda games were among them.

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We're talking masterpieces like Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask here — neither of which have made it to the Switch in its three years of being on the market.

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Fans would no doubt pay to play those again on the Switch in a heartbeat. Let's not forget Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword as well. The latter even caused a stir when a port was rumored to be in the works.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/n/i/n/nintendo-franchises-for-switch-009d6.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/n/i/n/nintendo-franchises-for-switch-009d6.jpg","type":"slide","id":"213848","description":"

A lot of the Nintendo franchises on this list are absolute no-brainers in terms of whether or not they should come to the Switch. If Nintendo decided to bring any of these older games forward to current-gen, it would likely be the same as printing money.

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Fans are already clamoring for any bit of Direct news they can find that relates to Nintendo's first-party games. Just imagine what would happen if a port or remaster of anything on this list became a reality.

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Read on to see six Nintendo franchises that need to come to the Switch ASAP.

"}]]]>
The Best Rhythm Action Games Ever Made https://www.gameskinny.com/1622c/the-best-rhythm-action-games-ever-made https://www.gameskinny.com/1622c/the-best-rhythm-action-games-ever-made Mon, 03 Aug 2020 15:34:23 -0400 RobotsFightingDinosaurs

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The Metronomicon

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I have no idea why this game didn't get more attention when it came out. A mix of Final Fantasy and Rock BandMetronomicon layers strategy-based RPG-style battles with a rhythm overlay, tasking players with playing different parts of a song Amplitude-style in order to unleash different attacks.

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It's difficult, but when you finally put together the perfect combo without a missed beat, it's incredibly satisfying.

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That's it for our best rhythm action games of all time. What games would you have included? Let us know over on Twitter!

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/a/x/maxresdefault-6e04e.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/a/x/maxresdefault-6e04e.jpg","type":"slide","id":"212758","description":"

Child of Eden

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I could have easily put Rez or Rez Infinite in this slot, but for my money, the game's Xbox 360 followup, Child of Eden, is the best of all three if you're looking for a rhythm rail-shooter.

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It is currently unavailable on current-gen marketplaces, which means that even though it is backwards-compatible with the Xbox One, you're out of luck unless you can dig up your old Xbox 360 disc, which is a shame because it is legitimately one of the most beautiful games ever made.

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Where Rez skewed more digital, with a cyberpunk-inspired aesthetic, Child of Eden is decidedly more organic and psychedelic. The graphics hold up today, punching well above their weight, and it is, oddly enough, one of the only games ever to pull off Kinect integration in a satisfying way.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/e/a/9/ea92733596aca342235a969810f4e0124fbf93821920x1080-0c5a1.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/e/a/9/ea92733596aca342235a969810f4e0124fbf93821920x1080-0c5a1.jpg","type":"slide","id":"212757","description":"

Crypt of the Necrodancer

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Crypt of the Necrodancer is another unique entry on this list. Although it is, technically, a rhythm game, an advanced sense of rhythm and syncopation won't really help you here. This roguelike dungeon-crawler is more about quickly making a plan of attack, executing it, and doing it to the beat, moving on every single one so that you don't break your combo. 

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Oh, and this game is hard, too! You'll have to think ahead to avoid being one-shotted by a particularly vicious enemy, but once you learn the enemy patterns, it's an extremely satisfying romp.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/1/9/1/1913cc1bf6abe7c757343362cecbd27f36a27e7b1920x1080-2b978.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/1/9/1/1913cc1bf6abe7c757343362cecbd27f36a27e7b1920x1080-2b978.jpg","type":"slide","id":"212756","description":"

Thumper

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Thumper is a transcendental game in another way. The developers bill it as a "rhythm-violence" title, and they're not wrong. Everything about the game feels oppressive, and death is always creeping in around the corner.

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Where the rest of the games on this list can induce a state of focused flow, Thumper is much more of a white-knuckle experience. You'd be surprised at how scary this rhythm game can be.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/a/y/sayonara-wild-hearts-switch-hero-bfa52.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/a/y/sayonara-wild-hearts-switch-hero-bfa52.jpg","type":"slide","id":"212752","description":"

Sayonara Wild Hearts

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Sayonara Wild Hearts is an incredibly special game. It blends a story of self-discovery after heartbreak with super-flashy graphics and tight controls. That would be enough to land it a spot on this list, but what makes the game iconic, and truthfully, one of my personal all-time favorites, is the soundtrack.

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The game plays like a concept album, each song matching perfectly with its stage but also coming together as a whole to tell a larger story. The dream pop soundtrack stands alone as one of 2019's best albums, but experiencing it together with the game is almost a transcendental experience.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/3/d/0/3d091ff1cc133582ea9d67cc672a60bad2c6cfe21920x1080-6fefd.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/3/d/0/3d091ff1cc133582ea9d67cc672a60bad2c6cfe21920x1080-6fefd.jpg","type":"slide","id":"212759","description":"

Bit.Trip.Runner

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Sure, Bit.Trip.Runner doesn't have an all-star tracklist full of licensed songs, nor does it have photorealistic graphics or a deep story. But if there's one thing the Bit.Trip series is good at, it's stripping everything away in order to create a distilled, concentrated hardcore experience.

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One of the more difficult games on this list, Bit.Trip.Runner may have you throwing your controller at the wall, but at the same time, you know you'll be back grinding that level soon enough.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/a/m/p/amplitude-screen-ps4-15jan16-090cb.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/a/m/p/amplitude-screen-ps4-15jan16-090cb.jpg","type":"slide","id":"212765","description":"

Amplitude

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In Amplitude, whether you're playing the PS2 original or the PS4 re-imagining, your reward for playing well is being able to hear more of the song. 

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It's an interesting gameplay hook  instead of mashing buttons to the beat of the song, you control a ship responsible for playing each individual part of the song. You have to lay down the drum track, the vocal track, the synth tracks, and the guitar tracks, and as you do, the actual song takes shape in front of you.

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It's a frustratingly fun way to motivate the player since your reward for nailing a particularly difficult section is actually being able to hear the sweet guitar solo that has been plaguing you for the last 30 minutes.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/a/x/maxresdefault-6cceb.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/a/x/maxresdefault-6cceb.jpg","type":"slide","id":"212755","description":"

Rhythm Thief & The Emperor's Treasure

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Rhythm Thief & The Emperor's Treasure didn't make as big of a splash as Elite Beat Agents, Rhythm Heaven, or any of the other less action-focused rhythm games on the Nintendo DS family of systems, and that's a shame because it's a very special game. 

\n

It's Professor Layton by way of Rhythm Heaven, weaving a deep story (complete with Level-5's iconic beautiful animated cutscenes and voice acting) replacing brain-bending minigames with rhythm-based minigames.

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The game does a great job of integrating these minigames with whatever is going on in the game's campaign, which makes the overall experience really special and immersive.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/c/a/p/capsule-616x353-c4419.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/c/a/p/capsule-616x353-c4419.jpg","type":"slide","id":"212754","description":"

Just Shapes & Beats

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In quickplay mode, Just Shapes & Beats is a joy to play given how it flips the rhythm genre on its head. Instead of pressing buttons to the beat of a song, the stage itself is what reacts to the music that is playing, as hazards pop up and dance around the stage.

\n

Every single song in the game has a custom-created stage, with hazards that are thematically appropriate for the song's genre and mood. It's clear that a lot of effort was put into curating these stages.

\n

The developers really didn't have to include a story mode here, but they did, and for a rhythm game with no dialogue, there are some amazing, emotional moments to be found here. Plus, the game recently got a pretty major update, adding a few songs from the Shovel Knight soundtrack (remixed, naturally) for free!

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/a/x/maxresdefault-649f5.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/a/x/maxresdefault-649f5.jpg","type":"slide","id":"212753","description":"

Beat Saber

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It would be irresponsible not to lead off with Beat Saber. Even if it weren't a VR title, its slick visuals and amazing tracklist would be enough to land a spot on this list. But once you put on a headset, Beat Saber is an expert at inducing a deep sense of flow.

\n

Your brain turns off, and you enter a trance-like state as you slash an endless stream of boxes. It's not until after you take the headset off an hour later that you realize you're drenched in sweat and your arms feel like they're on fire. 

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It's worth it, though. Trust me. 

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/a/x/maxresdefault-07358.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/a/x/maxresdefault-07358.jpg","type":"slide","id":"212748","description":"

There are few feelings in gaming more satisfying than losing yourself in a song and mashing buttons to the beat to defeat an enemy or complete a stage. It just feels right, you know?

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Slashing an enemy when the vocalist hits that high note, jumping over an obstacle during a soaring guitar solo, expertly parrying a blow as the high-hat hits. It's exhilarating, and it's one of my favorite genres of gaming. 

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In that spirit, here are our favorite rhythm action games of all time. As a note, however, we're disqualifying games like Guitar Hero, Beatmania, and even Parappa the Rapper and Elite Beat Agents, given the fact that those games are more purely rhythm titles.

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We love them too, so don't feel slighted if you don't see them on this list!

"}]]]>
The Longest Games to Sink Hundreds of Hours Into https://www.gameskinny.com/g8l37/the-longest-games-to-sink-hundreds-of-hours-into https://www.gameskinny.com/g8l37/the-longest-games-to-sink-hundreds-of-hours-into Fri, 27 Mar 2020 17:44:37 -0400 Ty Arthur

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Monster Hunter Freedom Unite

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There is absolutely no question that you could sink a ton of hours into Monster Hunter World, the most recent entry in the Monster Hunter franchise, but it's Freedom Unite that takes the crown. Thing is, you need as PSP or PlayStation Vita to play it.

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Offering up to 400 hours of play time, there's an undeniable sense of accomplishment built into Freedom Unite. that triggers something deep in our ancestral memory when we take down some big game, and Freedom Unite offers the ultimate in hunting with gigantic monsters.

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---

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What long games are you playing when you find yourself in need a few hundred hours to waste? Sound off in the comments below with your thoughts on our picks, and be sure to give us some recommendations for games we could play until our eyes bleed!

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/u/s/mustang-update-022019-min-30295.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/u/s/mustang-update-022019-min-30295.jpg","type":"slide","id":"208979","description":"

Star Citizen

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Though it's possible that Star Citizen will never be complete, what's available now in the game's Alpha version is still extremely extensive. 

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While still missing many key features, there's plenty to do between combat and delivery missions, mining and trading, exploration, and direct interactions with other players. If you've ever wanted to go explore the stars in the most ambitious video game universe ever conceived, Star Citizen is the ultimate sci-fi time sink

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/b/l/a/black-white-41262.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/b/l/a/black-white-41262.jpg","type":"slide","id":"208967","description":"

Pokemon Black and White

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While some Pokemon games are drastically shorter than others, Black and White is probably the way to go if you're looking to really sink your teeth into something.

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For a Pokemon game, there is simply a stupid amount of content in Black and White, and it adds in 150 new pocket monsters to the roster to boot. The gameplay might be old-hat and repetitive by now, but if you want to relive your halcyon days of monster collecting, this is the way to go.

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Of course, Black and White isn't your only option. For Switch owners, there's also Pokemon Sword and Shield. While the games don't include all of the Pokemon from the get-go, a completionist run could last more than 100 hours, and there are two expansions still on the horizon!

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/h/2/x/h2x1-nswitch-fireemblemthreehouses-image1600w-24b94.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/h/2/x/h2x1-nswitch-fireemblemthreehouses-image1600w-24b94.jpg","type":"slide","id":"208963","description":"

Fire Emblem Three Houses

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Other than Breath Of The Wild, which I'm assuming you already know you should have played, this is one of the very best, and longest, games on the Nintendo Switch. 

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Three Houses is filled to the brim with tactical combat and deeply strategic party management. It's got a winding, engaging story, and features elements from other genres, such as simulation and education. 

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It isn't a stretch to say you'll be putting in 60 hours on the low end. For those who have to explore every nook and cranny and find every secret, 100 hours isn't inconceivable.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/a/x/maxresdefault-34c66.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/a/x/maxresdefault-34c66.jpg","type":"slide","id":"208947","description":"

Persona 5

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In general, console RPGs tend to offer pretty lengthy campaigns, especially compared against the brevity of any given shooter's single-player mode. But the cream of the crop is Persona 5.

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The Persona games have always included a number of deeply interconnected relationship systems against the backdrop of intense complexity. Persona 5 kicks that design into high gear with the lengthiest story campaign yet, not to mention its Memento dungeons full of fantastic loot.

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Depending on how much of Tokyo you explore and how far into New Game+ mode you go, 100 hours of playtime is a low-end estimate. If you've already played Persona 5, it might be worth jumping back in with Persona 5 Royal. If that doesn't suit your fancy, take a look at our ranking of the Persona franchise from best to worst.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/9/1/o/91oltdsz55l-e5871.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/9/1/o/91oltdsz55l-e5871.jpg","type":"slide","id":"208945","description":"

Disgaea Series

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Old-school gamers might recall how you technically could get Cloud Strife to Level 99 on the PS1 version of Final Fantasy 7, but you weren't really supposed to do that. The gameplay just wasn't built around that type of grind, which got old  fast.

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Alternatively, Disgaea is a series that's explicitly built around that exact hustle, and the level cap isn't 99: it's 9,999. Yep, you read that right.

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Aside from a ludicrously-high character level, every item you pick up in Disgaea has its own randomized dungeon, all so you can level up said item to 9,999. Theoretically speaking, there's no cap to the number of hours you could spend here. Some have certainly spent thousands upon thousands ... 

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Thankfully, the series' strategy RPG combat stays fun during the endless grind, and all of the Disgaea titles feature tongue-in-cheek characters and interactions to keep things entertaining.

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I'm a fan of Disgaea 2's PC port, but honestly, any of these titles on either console or PC are just phenomenal and worth sinking time into. Want the latest and greatest? Disgaea 5 is the most recent main entry to hit PS4.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/b/6/8/b688c0a1ca6b2ff36e3acac88d7a2627c1de07cc-e4466.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/b/6/8/b688c0a1ca6b2ff36e3acac88d7a2627c1de07cc-e4466.jpg","type":"slide","id":"208944","description":"

Battletech

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What's more fun than giant mechs stomping each other into oblivion?  Harebrained Schemes' take on the long-running Battletech franchise. It's a winner when you need a game that goes on for a long, looooooong time.

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While the campaign itself is somewhere in the 60-70 hour range, it's what comes after — when the full map opens up  that's a real time sink. Whether you're an achievement hunter, or you're just trying to get all the parts to build that elusive crab mech, you're facing down hundreds of hours of missions.

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While such a glut of content got a bit stale at launch, additional mechs, travel events, and new mission types have since been added with free updates and paid DLC. If you quit after 120 the game first dropped, now is a great time to jump back in to see what's changed. Maybe even add 120 more. 

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/z/1/6/z163dgurfi253nzalfu8-390x400-15f9c.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/z/1/6/z163dgurfi253nzalfu8-390x400-15f9c.jpg","type":"slide","id":"208964","description":"

Any Civilization Game

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Why stick with just one era of expansion and conquer when you could cover all of human history and then go far into the future as well? That's what's on tap if you decide to jump into Civilization, Sid Meier's 4X claim to fame. 

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As strategy games go, Civilization is the paradigm to beat. Its turn-based design has stood the test of time and influenced countless other titles. Games can play out as fairly quickly if you know what you're doing, and unique bouts abound no matter which of the hundreds of civilizations you pick.  

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One truly ludicrous example showcases a player who has been playing the same game of Civilization 2 for 10 solid years. No, not in-game years. Someone has spent a decade of their life on ONE Civilization match that never ended. 

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If you aren't familiar with the gameplay, I recommend jumping in with either Civilization 5 or Civilization 6.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/b/b/c/bbc11e6bb89a74ae7f9bc4a65cc25dfd33a14a50-0b4e1.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/b/b/c/bbc11e6bb89a74ae7f9bc4a65cc25dfd33a14a50-0b4e1.jpg","type":"slide","id":"208942","description":"

Sins Of A Solar Empire Rebellion

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Just about any major 4X game could have made this list since they're all focused on expansion, have sprawling maps, and provide plenty of replay value. 

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For the real goods, though, look no further than Sins Of A Solar Empire. Whether you want to establish an empire and deal with economic and political issues or just conquer the stars, Sins has dozens of gameplay possibilities. 

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Between the story mode and the game's random maps, there are immediately hundreds of hours at your fingertips — but that's just the start. The game supports a bevy of mods, including those for popular fandoms such as Star Trek, Star Wars, Mass Effect, and Stargate

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For example, the insanely-detailed Armada 3 mod is still the best Star Trek game that's ever been made, even if it's only a fan-made total conversion mod. 

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/f/a/d/fada482a92f0827bd01046490420252bb6963211-e010f.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/f/a/d/fada482a92f0827bd01046490420252bb6963211-e010f.jpg","type":"slide","id":"208946","description":"

Heroes Of Might And Magic 3

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There are plenty of killer real-time strategy options out there, like Total War or Company Of Heroes. When you need a game that can keep you occupied for months on end, though, the large-scale conquests of Heroes Of Might And Magic have you covered.

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Heroes Of Might and Magic 5  when the franchise first made the leap to 3D environments  is my personal favorite of the series, but Heroes Of Might And Magic 3: The Restoration Of Erathia is what essentially coined the idea of "just one more turn" in any and every strategy game. It's a great place to start.

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Yes, the graphics are dated, but everything else still holds up. There's an immense level of challenge on the game's harder difficulties, but it's rewarding and worthwhile. That's not to mention the music is still absolutely phenomenal. 

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If you'd rather play something more modern, there are plenty of newer entries that feature advanced the gameplay mechanics and venture into other genres, such as sci-fi. Age Of Wonders: Planetfall is an excellent pick to sink a hundred (or two) hours into.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/h/2/x/h2x1-nswitch-baldursgateandbaldursgate2enhancededitions-c82f2.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/h/2/x/h2x1-nswitch-baldursgateandbaldursgate2enhancededitions-c82f2.jpg","type":"slide","id":"208943","description":"

Baldur's Gate 2

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You don't have to look to the stars for a sprawling game experience in the triple digits. There's plenty to do in a world like Toril, especially in places like the Sword Coast or Amn.

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The granddaddy of all PC RPGs, Baldur's Gate 2 (or, if you must, the "enhanced edition" from Beamdog) is custom-made for playing in long stretches.

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Even if you've already played it from beginning to end, there's plenty of reason to jump back into the Bhaalspawn saga and try a different route. Side with or against Bohdi and her vampires, go with an all-evil party by grabbing Korgan, Viconia, and Edwin, or try another class to earn a radically different stronghold.

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Another option that involves a significant time investment is the Baldur's Gate 2 romance system, which actually plays out over weeks and months of in-game time as you get to know companions. 

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/k/i/n/kingdom-come-logo-3ee71.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/k/i/n/kingdom-come-logo-3ee71.png","type":"slide","id":"208969","description":"

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

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KC:D doesn't have nearly the same insane potential as Kenshi, but the trade-off is that there's significantly more story to enjoy. It does so in an open world with multiple ways to approach any situation.

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You start off as a peasant-nobody and have to build up your gear and reputation in a very (very) deadly world. The combat is deep and tactical, with dozens of different weapon choices from swords to maces. Clothing also plays a key role not only for defense but for social standing. And there's a crafting element that's rooted in real-life alchemy. 

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Kingdom Come is also significantly more polished and graphically pleasing than Kenshi, and looks utterly gorgeous on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, not to mention a high-end PC. 

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/k/e/n/kenshi-free-download-858f5.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/k/e/n/kenshi-free-download-858f5.jpg","type":"slide","id":"208949","description":"

Kenshi

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Unconcerned with the typical story-rich RPG experience, Kenshi lets you play however you want. A true sandbox, you can build your own empire, become a slaver, start a rebellion, or just spend time crafting and researching. There's no right or wrong way to play Kenshi.

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Once you get the basics of this truly punishing game down, though, it's time to extend your playtime with the game's dozens of mods. Here's a list of must-download Kenshi mods to get you started.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/a/x/maxresdefault-95b57.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/a/x/maxresdefault-95b57.jpg","type":"slide","id":"208941","description":"

Ark: Survival Evolved

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We'll start with the ultimate time sink. If you dig survival games or just like the idea of riding a dino across a prehistoric landscape before building your own city, Ark is up your alley.

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You probably already know about Ark, but if you don't, the idea isn't just to fight other survivors and build a settlement, but it's also to tame and domesticate wild animals. From fiery Ark magmasaurs to spidery bloodhunters, creatures of all shapes and sizes can join your primal menagerie when you figure out the proper taming methods.

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Yeah, it has some clunky UI and connectivity issues still, but there really isn't any competition when it comes to Ark, a survival sim where you get to build up a stable of animals and craft a society however you please.

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To really understand the amount of time you might lose to Ark, just take a gander at the game's Steam page, where hundreds and hundreds of players have logged thousands of hours of play time!

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If you're not a fan of the game's prehistoric sci-fi setting, Outlaws Of The Old West has essentially identical gameplay but lets you live out your Wild West fantasies instead.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/l/o/n/longcov-a56ed.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/l/o/n/longcov-a56ed.jpg","type":"slide","id":"208971","description":"

Sometimes you just have a lot of time on your hands. Whether it's because of a long weekend or an extended vacation, there are times you just want to immerse yourself in a digital world for 100+ hours. 

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Luckily, there are a ton of games that fit the bill. We're going to assume you already know that heavily modded Elder Scrolls entries or Fallout 3/4 offer hundreds of hours of gaming opportunities. So instead of pointing out the completely obvious, we're going to focus on a handful of games you might have forgotten about or, perhaps, hadn't considered. 

"}]]]>
Capcom Devs Acknowledge Fans Mega-Crave Battle Network Remakes https://www.gameskinny.com/myr57/capcom-devs-acknowledge-fans-mega-crave-battle-network-remakes https://www.gameskinny.com/myr57/capcom-devs-acknowledge-fans-mega-crave-battle-network-remakes Tue, 21 Jan 2020 17:03:08 -0500 Josh Broadwell

You want Mega Man: Battle Network remakes, we want Battle Network remakes — and now Capcom knows how much fans want them as well.

TV Tokyo broached the subject with several Capcom members, Battle Network director Masakazu Eguchi, designers Yuji Ishihara and Tomonori Hashinaga, and producer Kazuhiro Tsuchiya. In other words, all the right people for making remakes happen.

They were all surprised that so many people wanted remakes, but the only comment provided was that they would keep it in mind moving forward. The reasons for that are actually less PR than they might seem. Eguchi thinks the games are a unique relic of the time they were created, before wireless was ubiquitous.

He also said changes in society and digital culture shifted people's habits and visions from less of a shared vision to something that varies from person to person. That means, Eguchi claims, it's difficult to figure out what kind of remake might satisfy audiences because everyone wants something different.

Whether this means remakes are completely out of the question naturally remains to be seen. At the very least, we'll be getting some classic Mega Man action next month, in the form of the Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection. That's following last year's surprise re-release of the nearly impossible to find Mega Man: Wily Wars as well.

Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more Mega Man and Battle Network news as it gets jacked in.

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The Best and Worst of Pokemon — Trends Through the Gens https://www.gameskinny.com/sr3ly/the-best-and-worst-of-pokemon-trends-through-the-gens https://www.gameskinny.com/sr3ly/the-best-and-worst-of-pokemon-trends-through-the-gens Wed, 18 Dec 2019 09:00:01 -0500 Josh Broadwell

Pokemon has been around for over 20 years, spawning eight generations of mainline games and countless spinoffs. We've seen series come and go in that time, some quietly fading from existence and others, like Fire Emblem and Zelda, evolving.

The Pokemon series has a rich legacy to build on with every new entry, though surprisingly, the evolution of Pokemon is less straightforward than merely improving every time. 

Pokemon's journey is thornier than an angry Ferrosseed, full of tweaks and experiments that should have worked but didn't, some that did work and got left behind, and some that completely baffle the mind.

With the latest Pokemon games  Sword and Shield  smashing sales records left and right, we decided to dig into what makes the series work and where it falls flat. We're only talking mainline games in this retrospective, though, because the spinoffs are a whole 'nuther creature.

The Best and Worst Pokemon Regions

Pokemon didn't start having actual stories until Gen V, so there's not much use comparing them. Instead, it's the region that helps contribute to each generation's personality.

Some regions are bland, but hassle-free, while other regions present more challenge and visual interest at the expense of convenience. It's understandable, though, because designing a host of new creatures and an entire world for them is a lot for a small team working on tight deadlines.

When You Give Pokemon Crayons and Construction Paper

Mentioning Sinnoh right away seems a bit contradictory. It's the place that introduced "HM bloat" after all. Whoever thought creating Defog and Rock Climb while making them mandatory HMs was obviously in desperate need of an extended vacation.

Outside of that and some iffy bits on Mt. Coronet, Sinnoh may be the last great Pokemon region in overall design — at least for a while.

Sinnoh presents a good balance of long, tough routes with plenty of environmental points of interest, plus some shorter routes that cram challenges in a tiny space. On top of that is a generally wider variety of designs, especially compared to Hoenn, with snowy routes, mountaintops, sea routes, flower fields, and stone cities. Every section of Sinnoh is unique.

That's part of the game's central premise, too: the idea of a diverse and varied world full of different kinds of life. What's particularly interesting here is how it builds on failure.

Hoenn tries to create a region based on a plot theme in land versus sea, but that flops. In theory, a region split between land and water sounds interesting. However, you can't do all that much on the water other than swim. Diving is just swimming underwater, and then you swim some more. The towns and cities are afterthoughts.

Sinnoh benefits from being a bit less rigid with making the theme the central focus, letting the general idea of a wild world created by different Pokemon take hold.

PokeGlobe Trotting

And then it stopped.

Easily the worst aspect of region design is when Game Freak decided to explore other cultures. It's a noble idea, exposing young people to different ways of life. But the result — at least for a while — turned out like a Pokemon version of "It's a Small World," prioritizing over-the-top references to other cultures instead of doing anything exciting or meaningful.

Gen V's Black and White started a trend towards PokeTourism, moving away from the idea of a region built around a story concept and making the region itself the concept.

The only thing is, Pokemon's NPCs are too one dimensional to make that push towards other cultures work well, so it relies on the entire region to pull it off. Unfortunately, the U.S.-vibe Unova is supposed to give off doesn't continue outside Castelia City, and even then, it doesn't serve much purpose other than showcasing the Nintendo DS' hardware capabilities.

There's the entertainment city Nimbasa, but Jubilife and Goldenrod already have that covered. Opelucid is just Blackthorn with a twist. The entire eastern half of Unova has no relevance to the main game. And then you get places like the vast Icirrus Moor, which is big, and that's it. 

Kalos is a Unova repeat, sending you around a big circle, hitting all the main terrain notes: rocky, ice, seaport, flashy big city, and so on. There are a few French-inspired things added as dressing, with some story about a 3,000-year-old zombie king that can be filed under "H" for "hash-induced."

Alola does the same thing, making a meal out of the Hawaiian location without integrating it into the story or gameplay mechanics.

Galar, The Happy Medium

Sword and Shield's Galar region is a happy marriage of these two concepts, of planned design that emphasizes culture. It's inspired by a specific culture again, yet it's just a few aspects that get the focus. These are built into the area's core, like the Champion Cup. Everything else flows from there.

That makes Galar a sharp contrast to the superficial regional flavors of Alola that are constantly shoved in your face but don't do much else.

It's true we still have some forced regional dialogue in Galar. Again, we also have vast open spaces, exciting cities, and enough varied geography to offset the same-y-ness of the ice, forest, and rocky settings. The routes are still not quite as impressive as those well-worn Sinnoh paths, but the Wild Area exists to make up for that.

If Game Freak is going to keep creating regions based on specific cultures, hopefully, the changes we saw with Galar continue.

The Best and Worst Gym Leaders

Outside of the regions themselves, another important aspect of any Pokemon game is who you face as your primary opponents: the Gym Leaders and the Elite Four.

The Gym theme is one of the staler aspects of Pokemon and has changed the least over time. You can bet there's always going to be a Fire, Water, Grass, and Rock-type Gym, with other types in rotation, like Psychic, Ice, and Dragon. That means there are only two candidates for "best Gym Leader rosters."

Shattering Expectations in Diamond and Pearl

The first two games of Gen IV shook up the Gym system. Not like Sun and Moon did, through complete abolition, but by throwing curveballs with Gym-themed Pokemon that can take out your team.

A good many of the leaders toss in at least one dual-type Pokemon after the second leader — Maylene's Lucario and Meditite, Byron's Bronzor, Candice's Medicham, and half of Volkner's team. Crasher Wake might be more traditional, but his Gyrados can crush a fragile Electric-type in seconds.

Typically, you get Gym Leader rosters with either pure types. Platinum nerfed this feature with more traditional and less challenging Gyms, unfortunately, and we haven't seen it since.

Even the Galar Gyms in Sword and Shield are relatively traditional, though the inclusion of Gigantamax Pokemon — with special Gigantamax moves — from the third Gym on does shake things up.

Alola, The Confused One

Talking about Gyms and changes throughout the series means we must naturally touch on Alola — again. There isn't much to say here, though your opinion will naturally vary.

Gen VII replaced Gym challenges with Trials, but these can't be considered improvements. Some people like them, but I don't see how "which dancing Marowak is different??" can compare in any way to "challenge this super-strong Gym leader."

These always end with a battle against a turbo-powered Pokemon anyway, so why even bother with the goofy mini-game? It was a further step towards patronizing players and assuming young children are naturally stupid, and it's a mechanic that hopefully never comes back.

If something has to be changed, why not go for typeless Gym Leaders, taking the original Sinnoh concept further?

Then there's Galar's move towards putting Gym Leaders in your path more often, which also opens some possibilities for the future of Gym challenges. In short, significant change isn't always for the better, especially if that change is done only for the sake of change.

The Best Elite Four

Unlike Gym Leaders, the Elite Four does tend to vary wildly from game to game, though with no real visible trend (unless you count "rehash"). With a different set of trainers focusing on different types, you'd think there wouldn't be a way to compare them.

However, there are some definite winners and losers when it comes to the Elite Four, and the Elite Four exemplifies the struggle with the change that Pokemon has faced from the beginning.

Karen Will Be Your Opponent

Johto does a lot of things right, but the Elite Four isn't one of them. Will is an altered Lorelei, Bruno is as ridiculously easy as ever, and Koga isn't much better. Then we have Karen, the Agatha of Johto.

Karen is a trainer meant to take advantage of an underused type, except oops — there aren't enough Pokemon of that type to make it work. Johto introduces the Dark-type Pokemon, with a total of three Dark-type Pokemon: Umbreon, Houndour/Houndoom, and Murkrow.

Karen uses them all, though Murkrow doesn't count. And even though Murkrow isn't a pushover, the Pokemon wasn't much to write home about until Gen IV introduced its evolved form, Honchkrow.

So Karen has to supplement that missing piece with two non-Dark types the same as Agatha, opting for Poison instead. Sorry, but the manager says you're wrong: Vileplume isn't a Dark-type, KAREN.

Hoenn — Prepare for Trouble

After the too-familiar Johto Elite Four, Hoenn's diverse types and brutal opponents are hugely welcome, and you can see a bit of that Sinnoh Gym Leader philosophy on display here.

If a member of the Hoenn Elite Four doesn't have a dual-type 'mon to mess you up, they pack obnoxious status moves or monster Pokemon  like Walrein or Drake's Altaria  that can destroy you before you even have a chance to do anything.

The big standout here, though, is Steven. No, a Rock-type Pokemon trainer isn't that special on its own. Two generations of Brock then Roxanne saw to that. What makes Steven unique alongside his dual-type team from Hell is how he's the first Champion who isn't Lance, which means he's also the first Champion who doesn't use Dragons.

Steven didn't completely shake up the Champion mechanic — that happened with Cynthia — but it was an injection of newness into a formula that would have become stale very quickly with another Dragon master.

Sinnoh — And Make It Double

The Sinnoh Elite Four follows a similar path as the Hoenn League and ups the challenge — like, y'know, the strongest trainers in the region should do.

Diamond and Pearl toss dual-types and weird roster members in the mix, much like Flint's Lopunny and Drifblim. Diamon and Pearl was the first time it seemed like the top trainers earned that title since they tried to be well rounded. Plus, it forced players to bring a well-rounded team, except Bertha, who was crap.

Platinum nerfed that again but increased the overall power of each Elite Four member's team with more and stronger Pokemon for each — except Bertha, who is still crap.

Cynthia is the real star, though, even more than with Steven. That she's the first lady Champion is one thing, though Pokemon never had problems with strong women. It's not even because she is like Lance 2.0 with the significant role she played in the story. No, Cynthia is the first Champion with a diverse roster of Pokemon custom-made to trash you no matter what, and it's telling she's the only trainer not to get a significant roster change in Platinum.

Remember Me?

Alola doesn't really have an Elite Four until it does at the end. Then it's just the same Kahunas you already fought — for the most part.

There's some interesting story integration, but it's a bit stale feeling.

Kukui has a few glaring weaknesses and a roster seemingly chosen at random that make the fight anticlimactic compared to Cynthia or even Kalos' Diantha. This, combined with the story that takes center stage throughout the games, means your League fight is sort of just a thing that happens and whatever.

Moving Back Towards the Center with Galar

Galar, unfortunately, has a similar setup, where you fight some of the same Leaders you fought before. However, it improves on the Alola formula in a few key ways.

The story integration works a bit better in Galar since Sword and Shield are built around everyone vying for a spot in the League against the Champion. Plus, you end up with a total of seven fights instead of the usual five. It's the closest to the Pokemon anime that any game has gotten, with the idea of multiple rounds.

More importantly, each opponent has at least one 'mon meant to throw you off like the Hoenn and Sinnoh Leagues, with Raihan's near-invincible Duraludon being the best example of the lot.

Leon is one of the best Champions since Cynthia as well. Not only does he give you your first Pokemon, but he's also held up as the pinnacle of the Pokemon world. It imbues the match with an urgency missing for a long time, helped by Leon's relatively challenging and Cynthia-like roster that will put your skills to the test.

It's a good lesson, and one Game Freak hopefully takes to heart. 

The Pokemon — Best and Worst Pokemon Design

Pokemon design doesn't follow much of a trend, either, though one could argue the road got a bit bumpier after Gen III. It's easily the most divisive topic as well. You might hate my favorite Pokemon, and I could think your favorite Pokemon is complete garbage. Heck, some Pokemon literally are complete garbage.

Pokemon design has always bordered on the bizarre. There are animal-inspired designs like the Squirtle family mixed in with seductive Psychic humanoid creatures and genetically modified mutants. That doesn't leave much room for saying any Pokemon is "bad" or "weird," but it's safe to say Game Freak tends to do its best work when the developer isn't tied down to previous generations.

When Old Was Still New — Johto and Hoenn

Johto is a bit of an exception to that rule. Game Freak designed 100 new Pokemon to populate the region. Still, instead of rehashing the Kanto bug trilogy or making another new bat 'mon, these older Pokemon live alongside the new ones. Such a design felt like a healthy balance between nostalgia and newness, with plenty of fresh designs to make it sparkle.

Gen III did the exact opposite, and it was a smart move despite being a bit of a gamble. For it to work, the designs had to be exciting and engaging — and they were. Gone are most of the familiar faces, and in their place waddle strange little rabbits called Whismur, deadly sloths, and a familiar-seeming caterpillar. Still, none of these have much to do with their specific region; they just exist.

Look, It's New! Just Kidding, It's the Same Thing

Looking back, you can see Gen IV is where things started to get a bit confused. The Sinnoh Pokedex is notable for how few completely new Pokemon it adds, with many of them just being different variations on existing 'mon. Some can reasonably be called palette swaps as well, like the Starly line that isn't Pidgey — but is basically Pidgey — or Fat Persian, er, I mean "Purrugly."

Gen V tried adopting a Hoenn model, with a whole massive new roster of completely new 'mon, but it also suffers from Sinnoh syndrome.

Yeah, a lot of these new Pokemon were great, like Zebstrika and the Litwick family. But a lot of them were variations of what came before, and it just seemed like ticking the boxes: Rock-type and Fighting-type families that require trade to evolve? Check. Normal/Flying bird trio? Check. Two bug lines, one aggressive, the other not? Check. Version exclusive Grass lines? Sigh...check.

From there, the trend has been increasingly towards the familiar, with Gens VI and VII giving us massive Pokedexes with less than memorable new Pokemon, or if they are memorable, they get swamped by the hundreds of other 'mon vying for attention.

Regional Pokemon Flavo(u)r

Interestingly, Gen VIII has the fewest new Pokemon of any recent game, yet these stand out the most. Part of that is because we didn't see them all until later. But the other part is how they're handled. Just some slight tweaks to the formula keep it seeming fresh.

Your Rock-type Rolycoly is a dual Fire-type, is fast, has high special attack (??), and doesn't have to be traded to get its final evolved form. There's a cutesy Normal-type right at the beginning, but it's a freaking monster squirrel-tank that can power through most opponents. There's a new Bug line, but it's weird, and it's a Psychic radar to boot, and the new Flying line is part Steel — not new in itself (Skarmory), but it's how it's handled that makes a difference.

The familiar is still here, and you can forget Blipbug and get your Caterpie if you want. Like in Gen II, the new and old complement each other, and like Gen III, there's enough difference in how they're handled to convince long-time players this is a brand new adventure.

Even the silly ones like Alcremie have a purpose, and more importantly, you get to interact with them. You have to whip Milcery (not literally) to get Alcremie, find out if Sinistea is authentic or forged, and push Farfetch'd to greater heights of bravery until it evolves.

Like with the Champion Cup, this is yet another way the Galar region makes the Pokemon world feel more alive and closer to the anime. Even if there aren't as many new Pokemon, this is the best way forward for the series. It doesn't require shaking the formula up that much.

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It's surprising to see a series as revered as Pokemon have a bit of a design potluck from the beginning.

The core gameplay might remain the same, but there have been a lot of changes in how these things are implemented. Region design experienced a bit of a crisis when it went from Japan-only inspiration to global. Still, hopefully, the design team has a better idea of how to make them interesting from here on.

The same goes for the Gym Challenge and Elite Four. Chances are, though, feedback on difficulty and overall goals for the next gen mean there probably won't be any identifiable pattern or logic in how the games' challenges move forward.

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9 Final Fantasy Spin-offs You May Have Forgotten About Completely https://www.gameskinny.com/ttew3/9-final-fantasy-spin-offs-you-may-have-forgotten-about-completely https://www.gameskinny.com/ttew3/9-final-fantasy-spin-offs-you-may-have-forgotten-about-completely Sun, 15 Dec 2019 10:51:07 -0500 Josh Broadwell

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Final Fantasy: Type-0

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School stories have been A Thing in Japanese games since Persona 3 launched the sub-genre into the stratosphere. Some are good, some suck big time, but they all usually center around creating characters and a world you want to interact with, letting you interact with it all. Type-0 is Final Fantasy’s school game and does all that, before killing everything and making you watch it die. It’s definitely not a happy school story.

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But it is an ambitious one, re-using themes like the invading evil empire and moody students and placing them in a much more intricate and detailed world. You’re rewarded for investing your time exploring this doomed kingdom and the people who live in it. The same goes for your classmates.

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The combat system, though a bit herky-jerky with its camera antics, is a fantastic blend of strategy and action that keeps you on your toes and requires a balanced team at all times. Since it’s HD release on PS4, though, Square Enix hasn’t really done anything like it and might not do so again either, though it’s pretty clear the action focus inspired the likes of FFXV and probably even FFVII R.

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---

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That's it for our forgotten Final Fantasy spin-offs picks. Got any that are so forgotten even we forgot them? Sound off in the comments and let us know.

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Chocobo's Dungeon

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Chocobo’s Dungeon — a spinoff series in another series — is another story, one that’s at least achieved longevity, if not notoriety. It’s part of the long-running Mystery Dungeon series (which is to say, it’s as old as gaming itself), though the pack-in demo we got with Chocobo Racing was for the second Chocobo’s Dungeon game.

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The first remained a Japan-only release, but either way this was one of the first big franchise ventures into Mystery Dungeon, long before Pokemon spawned its own mini-series in the Mystery Dungeon series. 

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Chocobo’s Dungeon 2, and the other Chocobo games, really, are all about Chocobo trying to help out people in need. It’s cute, it’s bright and colorful — and it’ll grind your very soul into oblivion if you aren’t careful.

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These games are hard, much more challenging than their candy-coated exteriors would suggest. That’s part of the charm, though, toughing it out with Chocobo, probably a White Mage, a snotty Moogle, and definitely someone named Cid ready to drag your battered feathers out of the dungeon before it’s too late.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/c/h/o/chocobo-racing-ba443.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/c/h/o/chocobo-racing-ba443.jpg","type":"slide","id":"205045","description":"

Chocobo Racing

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For a while, it seemed like every franchise had to have a kart racer game, thanks to a certain red-hatted plumber. Chocobo Racing was that experiment for Square, and it received lukewarm to terrible critical reception when it first launched. Granted, part of that could have been down to timing. Square’s success with Final Fantasy VII set a tone for other games both in the series and on the PSX in general. 

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Yes, the controls are crappy, and the tracks are bland (as are Mario Kart 64’s) but the feathered racer still left treadmarks on many people’s hearts, this writer’s included. It’s got the kind of fluffy and warm story that would come to be synonymous with Chocobo games, the powerups were something new and different from Mario Kart, and it was an excuse to listen to classic Final Fantasy tracks remixed.

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Sadly, the 3DS remake was not to be. Had it come to pass, though, more than one heart might have exploded into feathery clouds, so maybe it’s okay after all.

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Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings

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This one breaks the rules a bit because it’s technically a numbered Final Fantasy game. Unlike X-2 and all 25 FF XIII games, though, Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings doesn’t quite count as a full-on sequel. You play as Vaan and Penelo, among others, and scour the skies for treasure as sky pirates, eventually encountering other characters from the original FFXII and some villains who want to destroy the world (of course).

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However, Final Fantasy meets Star Wars, this is not, for the narrative never reaches the same heights as its source.

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What really makes Revenant Wings stand out is the gameplay, which makes it more like a Heroes of Mana spinoff with Final Fantasy paint. Revenant Wings is a real-time strategy game, where you command hordes of monsters and allies in battle.

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Heroes have gambit skills that can offer benefits, though it does sometimes devolve into making mobs collide and seeing who comes out alive. Still, you visit a huge variety of locations, and the graphics are lovely, especially for the DS era.

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World of Final Fantasy

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We’ll forgive you if you did actually forget about World of Final Fantasy. Outside of this year’s Maxima update, with some new endgame content among other things, Square Enix seems to have forgotten it as well and shows no signs of going back.

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And that’s a bit of a shame. The spinoff might have some issues with characterization (Hi, I’m Lann and I’m dumb! Don’t worry, I’ll remind you later. A lot.). What it doesn’t have, though, is a lack of heart and charm.

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This Pokemon mashup is a love letter to the entire franchise that even newbies can play and enjoy. Even though the story and cameos are essentially Final Fan-fiction, it’s excellent to see Square Enix willing to take liberties with their beloved properties and try something completely new and the-bonkers.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/d/i/r/dirge-cerberus-worth-98617.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/d/i/r/dirge-cerberus-worth-98617.jpg","type":"slide","id":"205036","description":"

Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII

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Back during the first peak of Final Fantasy VII fever, Square Enix envisioned an entire saga centered around Cloud and his companions. Dirge of Cerberus was part of that plan in the PS2 era. Though it was later overshadowed by the admittedly better realized Crisis Core prequel, Dirge was a step into the wild side.

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Rather than sticking with the traditional turn-based formula, Square Enix decided this story would be much better if it were told through insane bouts of gunslinging action. It might seem strange, were it not for the action emphasis in the new Final Fantasy VII Remake, which in hindsight shows Dirge was actually a step towards a future innovation.

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Unlike Crisis Core, Dirge also ditched the biggest protagonists in favor of eccentric Vincent Valentine and Yuffie, though that probably wasn’t a bad move. FFVII’s cast is pretty big, and not everyone gets the screen time they should. How much of this plot might be retconned back into FFVII R remains to be seen, though it’s possible we might just see more of Vincent and Yuffie soon.

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Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King

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Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles was a spinoff that sparked a number of spinoffs, one of them being Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King on WiiWare.

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You play as King Leo, a chibi-dorable young monarch trying to rebuild a kingdom after the miasma destroyed it — just like it destroyed the Crystal Chronicles Remastered release date (ba-dum-tissss). 

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Part town-building simulator, part traditional turn-based RPG, you’ll help King Leo assemble teams of adventurers to gather materials and explore dungeons while also creating and maintaining facilities to keep your subjects happy. Naturally, it’s not as deep in either respect as it could be. However, it’s fun, it’s cute, it was popular, and now it’s gone forever with the end of WiiWare.

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Final Fantasy Dimensions

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Final Fantasy Dimensions was one of the earlier FF mobile attempts, and it was pretty darn good as well. Think episodic Final Fantasy with traditional deep FF job system, no gacha, decent enough narrative — especially for a mobile game at that time — and you’ve got FF Dimensions.

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Basically, it’s Brave Exvius, but without cameos of fan-favorite characters. 

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Dimensions combined themes, jobs, and story beats from throughout the series, and between that and the brand-new cast, it really felt like a completely new FF game.

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More importantly, even when the narrative was at its worst, it didn’t feel like an unnecessary bit of fan-fiction, like The After Years (fight me), which the same team also developed.

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Dimensions was successful too, enough that Square Enix continued supplying episodes for a while before, sadly, discontinuing the game.

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The Final Fantasy Legend

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The Final Fantasy Legend is only a Final Fantasy spinoff in the West. That’s because it’s actually the first SaGa game, which Square ported to the US on the Game Boy under the Final Fantasy moniker to help encourage sales.

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The difference between the two franchises was pretty easy to spot, whatever the game might be called.

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Legend has some familiar FF material, like the job system, light versus dark, and so on. However, the class system was completely changed.

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It also gives you humans, mutants, and monsters as your potential allies. Gender and type determine stats, but these can sometimes be altered depending on items you use or acquire.

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Equipment can break, some races are limited with how much they can equip — in short, it’s a SaGa game through and through, which makes Legend all the more impressive for being a Game Boy game.

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Final Fantasy is almost as old as home console gaming, boasting a great many games under the umbrella of its storied name. Many of these are mainline games, though "mainline" is a bit of a stretch for a series with few direct sequels.

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A whole slew of others are full-fledged spin-offs, though — games that experiment wildly with traditional mechanics, try a completely new setting, fuse genres, or all of the above and then some.

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Square Enix gives some of these love from time to time, like remastering Crystal Chronicles, but others aren't so lucky and gradually fade away or get discontinued altogether. So, we put together a list of nine Final Fantasy spin-offs that don't get too much attention or easily get lost in the shuffle. Proper sequels and non-Final Fantasy games are excluded.

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Let's get started.

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11 More Pokemon That Totally Look Like Rock Stars https://www.gameskinny.com/c1f7m/11-more-pokemon-that-totally-look-like-rock-stars https://www.gameskinny.com/c1f7m/11-more-pokemon-that-totally-look-like-rock-stars Thu, 15 Aug 2019 13:03:07 -0400 RobotsFightingDinosaurs

Game Freak recently made waves with new Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield announcements, telling fans that Pokemon would receive special "Galarian" forms.

One of these Pokemon, the Galar-exclusive Obstagoon, quickly went viral for its resemblance to KISS star Gene Simmons. The rocker himself weighed in, telling Newsweek that seeing Pokemon pay tribute to KISS, even accidentally, was an honor. 

But Gene Simmons isn't the only rock star with a Pokemon doppelganger. There are plenty more out there from Kanto to Alola, so join us as we examine eleven other rock stars and their Pokemon doubles!

Hanson and Alolan Dugtrio

Fans of Pokemon Sun and Moon probably have a certain amount of deja vu right now, given the fact that as soon as Alolan Dugtrio was announced, this same Gene Simmons/Obstagoon conversation was happening with Alolan Dugtrio and the Hanson Brothers.

It's too perfect; down to the fact that the hair and height of the Dugtrios match the hair and heights of the three brothers on their now iconic album cover seen above. 

Annie Lennox and Voltorb

Eurythmics star Annie Lennox's iconic striped makeup and electric red hair, combined with her fierce eye and eyebrow contouring, turn her into a dead ringer for Voltorb.

Perhaps Voltorb's levitate ability could keep Lennox from walking on all that broken glass.

Adrian Young and Machoke

No Doubt drummer Adrian Young's mohawk and penchant for wearing only underwear make him a match for everyone's favorite, slightly unsettling buff Pokemon Machoke.

The only thing missing is the muscle definition, so if Adrian Young's planning on dressing up as Machoke for Halloween, he's gonna have to hit the gym.

Lizzo and Wigglytuff

You can't look me in the face and tell me that everyone's favorite self-affirming pop superstar Lizzo doesn't have the same positive energy and vibe as Wigglytuff.

Plus, Wigglytuff's little hair tuft is perfect for tossing, right before they check their nails.

Marilyn Manson and Tentacruel

Granted, this one might be a little bit more of a stretch given that Marilyn Manson doesn't have any tentacles (that we know of).

However, his penchant for creepy, smoky black eye makeup, and generally seeming like he could poison you just by touching, you matches him up perfectly with Tentacruel.

Eminem and Decidueye

We considered a few other doppelgangers for Marshall Mathers, most notably Scrafty. Scrafty was disqualified because of their mohawk, so we landed on everyone's favorite dark, hoodie-wearing owl, Decidueye.

More than just looking similar, Eminem and Decidueye both have the same dark, brooding, don't-mess-with-me aggressive energy.

Angus Young and Mr. Mime

Look, we ran the numbers. Then we ran them again, just to be sure. We've considered all of the alternative possibilities. We regret to inform you that Angus Young of AC/DC totally looks like Mr. Mime.

We hate it as much as you do, but imagine Mr. Mime in a suit jacket and shorts. It just fits.

Sid Vicious and Spearow

Spearow is a perfect match for Sex Pistols frontman Sid Vicious in both look and heck-the-world attitude.

They both share spiky hair (feathers?), a permanent punk-rock scowl, and a healthy anti-authoritarian attitude that causes them to attack anyone who dares throw rocks at them.

Joey Ramone and Grimer

Punk legend Joey Ramone's rock legacy doesn't include any sludgecore, but his iconic hairstyle and face shape is, somehow, oddly reminiscent of Grimer.  

Meatloaf and Magmar

We'd like to think Meatloaf would appreciate being compared to the fiery Magmar, and why wouldn't he? It's a perfect match outside of the Guy Fieri-style flame motif, from the brow shape to the body shape.

But hey, two out of three ain't bad.

David Bowie and Zangoose

Zangoose and David Bowie, specifically Aladdin Sane-era Bowie, look similar enough that there is some widespread speculation over whether the pokemon was specifically based on The Thin White Duke.

We see it. What do you think? 

There's a lot more to be excited about in Pokemon Sword and Shield, whether that be it's non-linear map, copious yet-to-be-solved mysteries, or a bevy of new pokemon. Head over here to see three more reasons why. 

Pokemon Sword and Shield are set to release on November 15. Until then, are there any other Pokemon doppelgangers for rock stars? Let us know in the comments!

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How Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth Was a Franchise Turning Point https://www.gameskinny.com/vh5r4/how-digimon-story-cyber-sleuth-was-a-franchise-turning-point https://www.gameskinny.com/vh5r4/how-digimon-story-cyber-sleuth-was-a-franchise-turning-point Fri, 19 Jul 2019 14:02:04 -0400 Josh Broadwell

Digimon might remind themselves they're the champions every time an episode of the Digimon anime played on American television, but the truth of the matter was quite a different story for a long time — and still is, to an extent.

Despite technically being born before their much better known rivals, Pokemon, the digital beasties never enjoyed the same reputation in the West. A big part of that is down to timing and marketing, but there were plenty of production issues involved as well.

In fact, it wasn't until 2016 saw Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth release in the West that the franchise attained anything resembling coherent design and  cohesive originality. Now that it has, though, all signs point to the franchise hopefully remaining unique and a presence in the West for years to come.

It Starts with an Egg

Digimon started life, ironically, as a pocket monster franchise, literally. It was one of those little monster-raising things you keep in your pocket — the ones we all got in trouble with at school because it was more interesting than school.

From the start, it emphasized training your digital monster and helping it grow, not necessarily attached to any kind of story.

The first Digimon video game was a little ditty titled Digital Monster Ver.S: Digimon Tamers (not to be confused with the third season of the anime) on the Sega Saturn in 1998, which functioned basically as a TV-oriented conversion of the virtual pet. This entry has been lost with time, a bit for good reason. It didn't hold a candle to Pokemon's RPG offering, which released a full two years prior in the region.

The series's first full-fledged video game outing, Digimon World, didn't make it West until 2000, leaving Pokemon to begin its course of cultural domination with a multi-pronged media approach centered around video games and anime a full two years prior in North America. Pokemon had won.

And it's not too surprising that Pokemon succeeded. Red and Blue are rather simple by today's standards, but they wrapped up monster catching and raising in a more interesting package. Instead of just waiting for your Pokemon to poop and grow, you could take it on an adventure, stick with it for as long as you wanted or shelve it for a newer 'mon, and then win the ultimate challenge against the Elite Four.

All this was a huge hit, despite the slightly misleading premise in Pokemon's core mechanics. You really don't "train" your Pokemon in the same sense you would train your Digimon. Yet along with the more attention-grabbing adventure elements, the Pokemon anime got a two-year head start as well, so when Digimon caught up, it could only be perceived as an inferior contender.

After all, a franchise that defines itself by claiming it's better than something else clearly doesn't have as much to offer, right?

The World is Your... Farm?

Earlier Digimon games didn't do much to emphasize the series' foundational features and dispel that idea.

Tell that to a die-hard Digimon World fan, and you'll be quickly educated on how wrong you are, but that's sort of the point here. Digimon was confined to "those people" on the other side of the playground. While it was dearly loved by the ones who did take a chance on the copycat monsters, the developers went about setting the franchise apart in all the wrong ways.

The original PlayStation Digimon World games were a hodgepodge of genres and mechanics that work well when they do work, but lack clear direction. From recruiting people to a city to completing random mini-games, engaging in fights, and doing some 3D exploration, they offer a bit of everything without perfecting any one thing.

In that sense, you could say Digimon World was ahead of its time, with the genre blending and more open-ended sense of play.

It's a shame, then, that the micromanagement aspects of Digimon raising held it back. Waiting for your Digimon to do its digi-doody when it lives in a small piece of plastic inside your pocket is fine because you can do other things. Waiting for it as a form of entertainment whilst sitting in front of the TV is another matter entirely.

Meanwhile, Pokemon was off refining perfection with Gold and Silver, offering an improved — and much more focused — experience that also had the major benefit of being handheld.

That hit Pokemon's target audience the most, since Nintendo's handhelds were always marketed towards younger gamers, while the franchise was still  one of the only games of its kind. Digimon was overshadowed not just by Pokemon again, but by other, more innovative and rewarding, PlayStation era games too.

Mimicry, Flattery, and All That

Fast forward through several years and past some more Digimon spin-offs, and we get to the point where Digimon made it back to gamers' pockets — and deserved the aspersion hurled at it that it was just a copycat franchise.

Digimon World DS followed a pattern very similar to Pokemon. You get pulled into a new world, meet a professor-type person (well, digital monster in this case) pick a starter Digimon, and travel around fighting and training monsters. Leveling up the Tamer rank is equivalent to getting a Gym Badge, and it's all just too familiar. That fact wasn't lost on fans and critics alike when the game launched in the West.

Granted, a lot of this was still very Digimon. Raising and training via managing the Digi-Farm, Digivolving, and thoughtful management all played a vital role in progressing through the game. In fact, Digivolving is one of the things that really set and continues to set Digimon apart from its better-known rival.

Where evolving a Pokemon is fairly straightforward, Digivolution employs a less hardcore version of Pokemon's IV training. Focusing on a specific stat or meeting some other requirement allows a Digimon to change form, and knowing when to Digivolve or not has always been part of the series' main gimmicks.

However, there just wasn't enough to make it worthwhile in World DS. The difficulty is very low, with no option to change; the story is non-existent; and the localization is appalling.

Its sequel mimicked Pokemon even more, splitting the game into two versions — Dawn and Dusk — with different monsters and slightly different dungeons. Yet it also diluted the experience with endless fetch quests and lower production values.

It says something when a set of games considered mediocre like the DS Digimon World games is simultaneously praised for being the best in the franchise.

Timing was another issue here, and again, it stayed in Pokemon's shadow,. The first World DS game was three years too late with mechanics and ideas Pokemon's Gen III implemented.

Dawn and Dusk released in the same year as Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, The former were iterating again on a now four-year-old formula with little to show for it, while the latter launched Pokemon into a completely new audience with IV stats, a focus on the meta-game, and vibrant new graphics.

A Long Intermission

Unfortunately, North American video game sales figures aren't made widely available. Marketing research firm The NPD Group publishes monthly and yearly Top 10 style lists of sales for hardware and software, and that's about it.

There might not be any reliable statistics for how the Digimon World DS games sold in the US, but we can safely assume they didn't do very well at all.

Why? Because localization for Digimon games from then on was spotty at best, with the West only getting random titles like Digimon World Championship. That was a shame for Western fans and potential newcomers to the series, because 2008-2013 saw Digimon games of much higher quality release in Japan.

Notable highlights include Digimon Adventure for the PSP that basically lets you play the anime and the successful Digimon World Re: Digitize, which, in Japan, garnered first week sales just 10,000 shy of Pokemon Black 2 and White 2's first week numbers.

Alas, Western gamers languished with no Digimon to hope for in the near future — or rejoiced, depending on your experience with the games up to that point.

Jumping Back Into the Future

Those two games in particular started a trend that would carry over to Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth and its sequel, namely trying to forge a unique identity and create a unified set of mechanics.

Cyber Sleuth builds on the longtime series staple of existing alongside a digital world by taking it further, blending the concept with ideas and situations specific to the mid-2010s.

No longer is the idea of vanishing inside a computer meant to be enough of a draw. Instead, people live through and in EDEN, a virtual reality city that — in a nod to the problems of online socialization — lets you completely recreate yourself and hide your real identity.

This brief and simple setup immediately sets the game apart from its rivals. Accusations of copying certainly couldn't be leveled at Digimon here, particularly since it has Sword Art Online beat by many years in the "entering a digital world" department.

More importantly, Pokemon continued to offer more of the same (since that's what people wanted), leaving fans wishing for something more "mature" or at least something more ambitious in the story department.

Cyber Story delivers on both counts, drawing on Digimon's origins of a monster-based series in a super-modern world to finally set the series apart.

It's been called Persona-lite, with its modern setting and emphasis on relationships, and that's not really a bad thing.

From cyber-crime syndicates to malicious hackers and all manner of problems in between, the world of Digimon Story is a vibrant place that, despite being fictitious, still manages to resemble the real world in some ways. The story doesn't hit Persona's level of maturity, but the story beats, darker elements, and bits of intrigue and mystery are still not something we've seen or are likely to see in Pokemon, let alone something a Digimon game has ever tried to do before.

Having a solid story, something that compels you to progress through the game, gives you a reason to raise your Digimon as well, and it gives the monsters more significance than just being something to collect.

It's helped along by a couple of other factors too, though.

The first is the difficulty. On default, Cyber Story is somewhat easy, but the difficulty level can be bumped up to accommodate those with different needs. That the game makes allowances for different playstyles is another first for the series and something Pokemon still hasn't done.

Masters of Digi-volution can probably still steamroll through the game by min-maxing stats in their Digi-Farms and breaking the game through skillful control of their monsters. Newcomers can take it easy with normal difficulty or take on a greater challenge as they try to learn the ropes.

Making Digi-volution so important to progressing through the game adds a much greater, and much needed, sense of cohesion when combined with the improved story elements. There's a clear goal for raising a Digimon and an easy-to-understand path for getting there, whether you want that extra power or you need to crush a boss.

Sure, it's something the World DS games had, but there's no denying it's much more enjoyable when you feel like you're doing these things in a unique game instead of a game that just acts as a bridge to the next Pokemon. Equally as important, it was the first time in nearly two decades Digimon's traditional mechanics of raising and evolution finally got packaged together as something you could reasonably call fun.

Finally, there's combat. Pokemon was never overly simplistic in its numerous type match-ups, and for those who didn't grow up with a type chart permanently seared into their brains, things like Ice > Flying > Grass >Fire > Ice are something of an entry barrier.

Not so with Cyber Story. A few basic types, a few more subtypes, and that's it.

The Final Results

So, Cyber Story had interesting characters, forged a unique identity, doubled down on making the mechanics fun and worthwhile, and finally had the means to leave Pokemon's shadow. But did it work?

Yes and no, but mostly yes. Timing, again, has a lot to do with why Cyber Story was received well.

How well is somewhat relative, though. The game came West in 2016, the same year as Pokemon Sun and Moon made their appearance. But this time, Digimon was on the Vita, which reached an entirely different market than the 3DS.

These were often the people who grew up playing Pokemon and wanted something different, and by 2016, Vita owners were already starting to see the handheld console's slow death on the horizon, noticeable first and foremost by a steady drought of new games. A new monster-collecting game promising a hefty bit of content and darker story wasn't something to miss, even if it was digital-only in the West.

And that's important to understand. Cyber Story didn't break the top 20 PS4 games in the months following its release in the West, but consistently remained in the top 5 Vita games.

The same went for its sequel, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth — Hacker's Memory when it released a few years later. In fact, Hacker's Memory was 2018's top Vita game, and that isn't taking into account the Asian-with-English-subs versions available for import.

Yet it didn't appear on the PS4 lists again, and Pokemon continued to dominate the handheld titles.

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With data like that, it probably seems a bit disingenuous to say Cyber Sleuth was a major turning point in the Digimon video game franchise. However, context is everything here.

The Story games were still handheld hits, far surpassing the DS World games in both popularity and quality. Quality is the most important point here, though, as this is the stage when finally — finally — Digimon got its act together in a sensible, focused game.

It's not known exactly how well the games did perform, but it was enough to reverse the localization curse. It convinced the series' producers to continue with the Story subset of Digimon games and ensure future games in the Digimon franchise were localized for Western audiences.

It's even the reason we'll be getting Digimon Survive (whenever that happens). If that isn't a turning point for a franchise once considered a sad, desperate copycat, I don't know what is.

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The Best and the Worst of the Fire Emblem Series Examined https://www.gameskinny.com/cumwg/the-best-and-the-worst-of-the-fire-emblem-series-examined https://www.gameskinny.com/cumwg/the-best-and-the-worst-of-the-fire-emblem-series-examined Wed, 19 Jun 2019 16:16:03 -0400 Josh Broadwell

While Nintendo's E3 2019 presentation and Treehouse Lives didn't give us all that much information about the upcoming Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the Big N offered enough of a taster to get a good idea about what to expect.

From a series-busting change in the combat system to a massive cast of characters, mysterious enemies and a continent at war, the trailer showed off a lot of new content. Most important was revealing the game isn't just a school story and includes a time-skip partway through. It looks like FE:TH is set to be one of the better Fire Emblem games in a long time.

Of course, that designation begs the question: "What makes a good Fire Emblem anyway?"

The answer would likely vary greatly depending on who you ask. Here we're going to go over some of the key facets of the series and highlight the titles that did it best and worst. Certainly, not all Fire Emblem titles are created equal.

The Story Aspect

Any Fire Emblem lives or dies by its story, and the series is definitely a case where story is greater than or equal to gameplay.

The mechanics might be spot-on, but it's difficult to put a lot of time and work into a game that doesn't make you care or want to find out what happens after that chapter. Make no mistake: Fire Emblem games tend to require a fair bit of work, unless you break them of course.

Best Fire Emblem Plots

The Tellius Saga

Fortunately, most FE stories are good, even the very basic ones like the first game, titled Shadow Dragon in North America. Yet there are some that stand above the others as the best Fire Emblem plots.

It's pretty difficult to split Path of Radiance from Radiant Dawn in terms of story because the one isn't complete without the other. They do stand strong on their own, but together, their overarching story is dramatic, grand, and compelling.

One of the most interesting features is the conflict between Beorc and Laguz. In PoR, it seems like a unique side story that adds background and makes the world seem deeper. It isn't until you near the end of Radiant Dawn that you find out it's the source of the entire arc's conflict, that fighting and prejudice between two groups of different appearance and heritage reached the point where it threatened to destroy all of civilization.

It's helped along by some storytelling flair as well. Playing from different perspectives was nothing new to the series at that point. However, Radiant Dawn's splitting the narrative into three parts that eventually come together created a compelling sense of tension. It centers everything around the many, many problems plaguing the land and how they were affecting characters you either knew from the first game or became acquainted with in an earlier part of this one.

That the stories are fraught with betrayal and rife with surprise reveals about certain characters' backgrounds, like Soren, Greil, and a certain bishop, means both games easily retain the player's interest throughout the 70+ hour combined story — which is good, since neither is exactly a cakewalk.

Worst Fire Emblem Plots

Fire Emblem: Fates

The Fates games get a lot of flak from series fans, and, well, it's deserved in terms of plot. After chapter 6 and The Big Decision, it just doesn't really go anywhere. The middle chapters in all three branches are basically variants of "We must defeat Opponent X, and to do so, we shall travel — a lot."

There aren't any major plot twists, except ones the games telegraph loudly from the beginning, e.g. who the traitor is. No minor antagonists really stand out either, unlike, say, Sonia from Blazing Blade. It doesn't change in Revelation, either.

That's not from lack of material. The unnamed continent has what seems like a rich history to explore, particularly the relationships between the various subgroups that live there and the two main powers. Then there's the resistance movement, the concept of the Faceless, how the conflicts affect others — plenty of interesting areas to explore.

The problem is Fates is a concept-based game that relied too much on the idea of branching paths at the expense of making those paths interesting.

Map Design

Map design is up there with story in terms of importance. It's pretty difficult to get immersed in a game when the stage maps are dull, uninspired, or just plain easy; it is supposed to be a strategy game, after all.

Unlike story, not all FE games sport quality maps, and even the good games in this category still have some that turn into a slog. The maps that are good stick with you for a long time as part of the overall experience — how they tested you, what strategy worked after failing 50 times, how it was fine until X unexpectedly showed up.

Best Fire Emblem Maps

Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade

Known just as Fire Emblem in the West, the 7th title in the series boasts a number of quality maps that test he player's ability and often require a few retries until you learn exactly how they work. The Peddler Merlinus and The Dread Isle are shining examples. Darkness and fog of war, respectively, are added on top of already difficult maps, crippling your vision and making the sense of relief at finishing with everyone alive tangible.

Then there's Cog of Destiny, which looks deceptively simple, but forces you to use every character wisely to defend against hordes of reinforcements.

Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest

Conquest easily wins out over the other two Fates games in this regard. Not only does it bring back conditional victories, like in Eternal Stairway and Unhappy Reunion, but it throws all kinds of obstacles up at almost every turn. Cold Reception is an early case of this, and it's especially interesting because you can technically make it easier on yourself by not trying to visit each house. Bitter Intrigue is another one that punishes you for trying to charge through too quickly, even while you have a limited number of turns.

Voice of Paradise is probably the best, though. Not only is the setting completely unique to the entire series, but the method of progression is as well. There are ways to completely cheese it, which is still difficult, or you can buckle up and try to fight your way over the boats; bottlenecks are usually your friend in FE, but here is another story entirely.

Worst Fire Emblem Maps

Fire Emblem: Awakening

First, let me say I like Awakening on whole, but even I can't deny its maps aren't that great. They're largely linear affairs, with very few obstacles except in some stages like Emmeryn and... well, that's it actually.

The rest of them except a few towards the end tend to be full of open spaces. You can patiently move your entire army from one end to the other, gang up on the boss, et voila. Mad King Gangrel is one of the worst offenders here, with Naga's Voice being another.

It's not that these aren't challenging; they can be. It's just there are only so many times you want to deal with the same basic, open map style. The Paralogues are where the more interesting designs are, but it's a problem when the most dynamic designs in a game are relegated to its side stories.

Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones

It might seem a bit unfair to put Sacred Stones under the bad category.

Many of its maps, like Phantom Ship and Victims of War, are quite good. The problem is they don't really do much different from Blazing Blade, with a few exceptions. Refining what works well is by no means a bad thing, but some changes in environment, style, or even just obstacles would have improved.

The other issue is how most of the maps turn into slog-fests, Scorched Sand, Darkling Woods, and Two Faces of Evil in particular. There's nothing like taking 20 turns just to trek across the map to the objective for ruining immersion.

Supporting Casts

One of Fire Emblem's biggest strengths has almost always been its dynamic supporting casts and the accompanying relationships players can build between them.

To test this claim, just play Shadow Dragon and then a more modern title. The difference is immediately noticeable, because the older titles didn't develop other characters as fully.

Despite being called "supporting" casts, these can make or break a game. Good characters with depth or fun personalities make you want to spend time in the game, learning about them and developing their skills. In other words, they make you want to play Fire Emblem.

Best Fire Emblem Support Casts

Fire Emblem: Awakening

Issues with map design and some narrative indecision aside, Awakening has a stellar supporting cast, helped along by some excellent localization from 8-4.

Each character almost pops off the screen — and no, that's not a 3D joke — with their own quirks, fully developed personalities, and most importantly, interesting stories. It's all made even better with the game finally opening up support conversations so almost everyone can have a chat with, well, almost everyone else.

Obviously, there are characters more appealing than others; Gaius, the cheeky, candy-obsessed thief with a heart, Morgan the oblivious, and the wannabe Lothario Virion. The list could basically include the entire cast. 

That's because even the tired trope characters have at least one scene or characteristic that makes them feel fresh. Ricken in particular stands out. He's the usual "boy who wants to be grown up." Despite, or maybe because of, his overall immaturity, his interactions with Panne and Maribelle demonstrate a higher level of emotional awareness and compassion than many of the other characters.

Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones

Sacred Stones makes up for its recycled map concepts with a pretty strong cast of supporting characters. Some might not be quite as dynamic or entertaining as the Awakening cast — Moulder, for instance.

However, they compensate for amusing quirks with more meaningful interactions between each other, interactions that make the player want to find out more or keep using those characters. For example, Neimi and Colm's relationship makes you want to keep them together, Cormag needs to be rehabilitated, and Marisa's and Tethys's backgrounds are awfully mysterious.

The game does still have its stand-out characters, though. L'Arachel and her retainers easily steal the show, and Lute is a strong follow-up for Serra whose interactions with Artur create an entertaining foil for the more serious characters.

Worst Fire Emblem Support Casts

Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright

Birthright really got the short end of  the stick with its supporting cast. For whatever reason, the Nohrian side has all the interesting and bizarre characters, from Charlotte and Benny, to Arthur, Odin, and, of course, Peri the bloodthirsty madwoman.

The Hoshidans get arguments about who serves their lord better — two separate sets, in fact: Hana and Subaki, then Oboro and Hinata. Hayato is Ricken revisited, only without many redeeming qualities, the ninjas don't say much (not altogether surprising), and Rinkah just falls short.

The reason? They don't have anything going for them. Setsuna and Azama are the only ones with unique personalities, along with Orochi, though the latter only gets some depth with Kaze, Corrin, and Saizo. Even many of the support convos seem forced and stretched out to get to that A or S-rank mark, because there isn't anything to say. It's odd and frankly disappointing.

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn

If you've played Radiant Dawn, then this needs no explanation. The game doesn't let you get to know the supporting cast at all. In a bizarre turn of events, the game did away with regular support conversations in place of very short, non-essential speech snippets that are supposed to be like bonds of some kind. They offer battle benefits — and little else.

It's a huge missed opportunity, too. The cast is full of promise, especially given the wildly varying settings that shape their experiences. The Dawn Brigade is one of the most rag-tag band of companions in the series, and then pretty much every playable character and some extras get thrown together towards the end.

Maybe at the time, it was a logistics nightmare coming up with all those possible conversations, or it was an innovation gone wrong. Either way, it makes for a very bland experience outside the main story and fails to deliver on the promise of the unique cast.

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With Treehouse Live keeping much of the plot and gameplay hidden for now, so close to release date, it's too early to say whether Three Houses will exceed in any or all of these categories.

In the end, though, all of this is pretty subjective, because a series made up of so many intricate components is bound to appeal to different people in different ways. What to me might be the worst map design in the series could be someone else's favorite — and that's okay.

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Mystery Dungeon is a Criminally Underrated Series — And That's a Shame https://www.gameskinny.com/p8nng/mystery-dungeon-is-a-criminally-underrated-series-and-thats-a-shame https://www.gameskinny.com/p8nng/mystery-dungeon-is-a-criminally-underrated-series-and-thats-a-shame Sun, 31 Mar 2019 13:03:36 -0400 Josh Broadwell

Square Enix released Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon: Every Buddy recently, and to some, it might seem an odd game out. Mystery Dungeon games are roguelikes and previous Chocobo-related outings didn't attract as much attention in the West as they did overseas.

They're known for brutal difficulty and roguelike elements most of all. But underneath the randomly generated dungeons and turn-based combat is a series with huge variety and deep connections to gaming history. Certain outings, including Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon, also go beyond the teeth-grinding difficulty and offer compelling fanservice whose charm alone helps make the entire package worthwhile.

How It Started

In general, the Mystery Dungeon games share a few core things in common with roguelikes.

They revolve around exploring one or multiple dungeons, usually with a variety of randomly generated floors or sections themed around a specific gimmick. Each floor’s layout is randomly generated. That’s where part of the appeal is, too, since the dungeon changes every time you enter.

Movement is grid-based, and each step you take causes time to move forward on that floor. Of course, enemies and other environmental facets take place as you (and time) move.

Combat is turn based and often relies on your character facing the right direction so it can actually land a hit. Many Mystery Dungeon games will include a variation of the class system common to RPGs, letting you change up how you approach each obstacle.

These all stretch back to the game that’s one of the grandfathers (grand-game?) of all RPGs: Wizardry.

Wizardry was the first dungeon crawler video game with mass appeal and was based heavily on the likes of Dungeons and Dragons and created by Robert Woodhead and Andrew Greenberg in the late 1970s, though it didn’t hit many people’s radars until 1980.

Wizardry built on other, similar games with exploration elements and first-person mechanics to create a unique experience. Dungeon exploration and incredible detail (for the time) were coupled with party-based combat and a deep experience that could change depending on how you approached it.

It also existed in a pre-map era, which meant players resorted to the tabletop feature of developing their own maps (hello Etrian Odysseys ancestor).

Wizardry was a success in the West, but success doesn’t even begin to describe the phenomenon it created in Japan. It, along with Ultima, developed a huge following that still exists and sparked the modern RPG as we know it.

How Dungeon Crawlers Gave Birth to the RPG

Apart from introducing staple RPG mechanics like fantasy, exploration, and party combat to broader audiences, Wizardry caught the imaginations of Koichi Nakamura and Yuuji Horii during their earlier days at Enix.

Wizardry didn’t release in Japan until 1985, but the two programmers experienced it firsthand at Applefest in 1983. The design and mechanics struck a chord in them, and they combined Wizardry gameplay with the Ultima map as the foundation for what became Dragon Quest.

That game ended up spawning Final Fantasy, and the genealogy of RPGs is well-known enough from there. It is worth noting, though, that Nakamura would go on to work on the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series, along with acting as producer for many, many other Mystery Dungeon spinoffs.

Around the time Dragon Quest made its debut, Wizardry and the dungeon crawler were fading from the public eye in the West. Greenberg and Woodhead had achieved cult following status in Japan, though, and could hardly walk around without being mobbed by adoring fans.

As roguelikes and dungeon crawlers gradually fell out of favor this side of the Pacific, Japan started seeing more mainstream games with Wizardry’s DNA, like Shin Megami Tensei, along with a host of lesser known titles, such as Dragon Slayer, to say nothing of the countless Wizardry sequels and spinoffs still being made.

How the RPG Gave Birth to Mystery Dungeon

The genre changed again, though. In 1993, the first Mystery Dungeon game was released, Torneko no Daibōken: Fushigi no Dungeon. It featured a side character from Dragon Warrior IV and was basically a console roguelikes that used familiar characters from well-known RPGs to draw people in.

But it spawned a series that would include countless spinoffs from multiple well-known franchises.

Take Final Fantasy for example. In 1997, doubtlessly riding off FFVII’s success, Square released Chocobo Fushigi na Dungeon (what would end up being translated as Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon for the sequel).

It borrowed elements of Final Fantasy and mashed them with Wizardry-style dungeon exploration and rougelike elements to create a successful spinoff—successful enough to warrant a sequel only a year later.

Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon 2 wasn’t a major hit in the West, but it developed a loyal following. Part of the appeal in Japan and the West was that the Chocobo offshoot tames some of the bone-grinding difficulty and made the series more accessible.

Other franchises would follow suit, but apart from the joy of seeing your favorite characters — or character classes, in the case of something like Etrian Mystery Dungeon — there's a special something about playing a game that has such strong roots to modern RPG gaming and was ultimately responsible for some of the biggest names in the gaming industry.

The Core: Strategy, Heartache, Rinse, and Repeat

But before Pokemon Mystery Dungeon and the Final Fantasy Fables games that tried to be more accessible, there were other entries in the Mystery Dungeon series designed for the hardcore gamer.

The Shiren the Wanderer games are some of the better known spinoffs in the Mystery Dungeon series, with releases on the Wii (Shiren the Wanderer), DS (Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer) and Vita (Shiren the Wanderer: the Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate).

The Shiren games are not for the faint of heart. They'll take your time, make you think you're doing well, and then crush you with a smile before sending you back to square one.

These hardcore Mystery Dungeon games are the epitome of roguelike. But that's also part of what makes them popular, popular enough to warrant additional entries in the West, including a newer mobile release as well. Shiren games force you to literally think out every step, planning ahead so even if the RNG gods do spit on you, there's still a chance of survival.

Like the best roguelikes, its design is effective enough to keep you trying again and again, regardless of how many times it kicks you down — even if you do need a break first. Since layouts are always different, it means your strategy has to change every time too.

It helps that these mechanics are wrapped around a charming graphics style, with some addictive item management and combination elements as well, making the frustrations more than worthwhile.

That goes double for Etrian Mystery Dungeon, the peculiar one-off Mystery Dungeon entry using Etrian Odyssey concepts. It's as incredibly difficult and "figure it out yourself" as the core EO games (well, most of them), but it combines exploration and class experimentation with the Mystery Dungeon format.

The result is an engrossing game on par with Shiren for both difficulty and reward, though surpassing it in terms of playability.

Each Mystery Dungeon game is bursting with replay value and keeps players engaged for long periods of time with its variety of mechanics and almost infinite ways you can approach it. Of course, the difficulty means it isn't for everyone. Outside of dedicated fans, you won't likely find many people who talk about Shiren in the West or Etrian Mystery Dungeon.

The Rest of Us

The Mystery Dungeon series is nothing if not flexible, though. While the core games like Shiren continued being made, the series fared better when it continued in the tradition of the original: combining well-known RPGs with the more unforgiving Mystery Dungeon formula.

Still, the series didn't really hit its stride in the West until Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team and Blue Rescue Team launched.

There were other attempts to make the series popular, like Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja. But these lacked the staying power of a big franchise, while Pokemon was capable of bringing in a new and sizeable audience and easing them into the established gameplay formula.

Now, instead of the quirkiness of Shiren and the exotic dungeons, players could take a personality test and become one of their favorite Pokemon for the duration of the game.

The stories, while not astounding, at least provided context for the many, many trips into the dungeons. Plus the exploration used well-known Pokemon mechanics like elemental attack types and leveling up to make the huge change in gameplay styles easier to tolerate.

After the initial pairing's success, the Pokemon offshoot spawned regular new entries. While these might not be "true" Mystery Dungeon games, in the sense that they lack some of the risk-reward element and the harsher roguelike mechanics, they represent something important.

For franchises where experimentation either never happens, like Pokemon, or comes under heavy fire when it does, like Final Fantasy, the Mystery Dungeon series is a creative outlet that lets developers do something different with their established creations that fans can enjoy for a long time.

Who wouldn't want to run around a dungeon with Mog as a sidekick or turn into a Pokemon for a few hours, after all?

Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon: Everybuddy is out and about, and with it fans are getting the best of both Mystery Dungeon worlds. It has all the charm and appeal of a Pokemon Mystery Dungeon game, but with Final Fantasy themes and cameos. What's not to love?

The Mystery Dungeon series ticks on as the primary roguelike series on console and handheld for a good reason, and it comes as no surprise with history in mind.

]]>
Ranking the Kingdom Hearts Games From Worst to Best https://www.gameskinny.com/jh0wl/ranking-the-kingdom-hearts-games-from-worst-to-best https://www.gameskinny.com/jh0wl/ranking-the-kingdom-hearts-games-from-worst-to-best Fri, 25 Jan 2019 00:03:46 -0500 Joseph Ocasio

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1. Kingdom Hearts

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The game that started it all has to be the game to make it to the top of the list. Sure, the combat isn't as refined as its sequels, and the platforming wasn't that responsive, but it's remarkable that this 2002 title still holds up in 2019.

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The combat is simple, but it's still a blast to fight against the hoard of Heartless. Meanwhile, the worlds of Alice in Wonderland, Tarzan, Aladdin, and the rest are beautifully recreated in 3D that still looks good.

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The writing manages to perfectly capture each of the various films' spirits, and the simple yet effective story of Sora's search for his friends still manages to hit home. It's the closest that the series gets to feeling like an interactive Disney film.

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It is easy to see why Kingdom Hearts captured the heats of millions, and it just goes to show that great game design and storytelling never gets old. Here's hoping there's more of the Kingdom Hearts universe after its third home console installment.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/k/i/n/kingdom-hearts-3d132.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/k/i/n/kingdom-hearts-3d132.jpg","type":"slide","id":"193649","description":"

2. Kingdom Hearts II

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After 4 years of waiting, fans finally got a proper follow up to Kingdom Hearts in Kingdom Hearts II. Sora, Donald, and Goofy's adventure to find Riku and King Mickey expands upon the original, introducing new combat abilities, like drive forms and limit attacks, as well as improved level design and Gummi Ship sections.

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There are more Disney worlds to explore, including Mulan, The Lion King, Tron, and Pirates of the Caribbean, with none feeling out of place.

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Kingdom Hearts II has a few stumbles, like having one of the worst tutorials of all time and a lack of difficulty, but it's still a sequel that's almost as good as the original. 

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/k/i/n/kingdom-hearts-birth-sleep-88880.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/k/i/n/kingdom-hearts-birth-sleep-88880.jpg","type":"slide","id":"193595","description":"

3. Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep

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First teased in the secret ending to Kingdom Hearts II, this prequel moved away from the story of Sora, Riku, and Kairi (somewhat), and instead focused on a new trio of angsty teens: Ventus, Terra and Aqua.

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Taking place 10 years before the events of the original, Birth by Sleep sees the three on their own adventures that sadly ends in tragedy, as they become manipulated by Master Xehanort's plan to obtain Kingdom Hearts. 

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Playing as three characters, each with a unique personality, helps mix things up, as it allows us to get to know each of the characters before their unfortunate fates.

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While the game has shown a bit of its age, with each world feeling much more confined than past entries and the characters playing extremely similarly to one another, being able to craft new abilities does help alleviate some of the issues that plagued past handheld titles.

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Furthermore, the handful of Disney worlds that were chosen to be in Birth by Sleep, including Lilo and Stitch, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White, still manage to retain some of the charm of the films that inspired them. 

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Also, how can you say no to a game that features two of the biggest sci-fi actor's of all-time in Mark Hamill, as Master Eraqus, and Leonard Nimoy, as the villainous Master Xehanort? You just can't.

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4. Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance

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Dream Drop Distance may have been another handheld game, but it does enough in setting up the events of Kingdom Hearts III to justify its existence.

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The worlds are decent at making you feel like you're in your favorite Disney films, and they contain much larger environments than some of the games in the series. Meanwhile, the combat is expanded with the new Flowmotion system, allowing you to pull off various attacks by using your surroundings.

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It's not perfect, as the Pokemon-like Dream Eaters feels needless, and the plot does start to become convoluted near the end, but it's worth checking out on either the 3DS or PS4.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/k/h/r/khrecom-wallpaper3-std-785fa.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/k/h/r/khrecom-wallpaper3-std-785fa.jpg","type":"slide","id":"193594","description":"

5. Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories

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While it was the first sequel to Kingdom Hearts, many saw Chain of Memories as just a watered downed repeat of the original put out on the Game Boy Advance. It didn't help that it featured a card-based battle system rather than the typical one that many were used too.

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While it is an impressive title for the GBA, featuring a card system that requires some strategy and solid looking 2D sprites, its port from handheld to console robbed it of some of its charm.

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That is, the 3D worlds of the GBA release feel much smaller and more confined when put side by side with Kingdom Hearts. This was acceptable on a handheld console like the GBA, but not so much with the PS2 version, as expectations are much higher for a home console.

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Furthermore, the reused and cramped worlds mean that combat can become a chore to play through, especially since there is nearly 30 hours of gameplay in Chain of Memories. Other games in the series at least try to mix things up with different gameplay types.

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Featuring nothing but combat, this game quickly becomes monotonous, and it makes it hard to see the plot through to its conclusion, despite the story holding up adequately.

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Also, that Vexen Boss fight can go straight to the darkest realm of the Darkness.

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6. Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days

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After Kingdom Hearts II, fans were aching for the next installment of the beloved series. What they got was... something.

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Taking place between Kingdom Hearts I and II, 358/2 Days is sort of the origin story of Roxas, focusing on his days with Organization XIII. Throughout, we see Roxas learning about his true nature and hanging out with his friend Axel and newcomer Xion. What follows is an adventure that... exists.

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The best way to describe 358/2 Days is that it is a game of its era. It is impressive to see a game like it on the DS, but it just doesn't really hold up that well.

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Its mission structure limits how much you can explore in each of the worlds, compared to previous games, and the writing for these worlds is lacking the spark that the films that they are based on had. Moreover, the main plot moves at a snail's pace.

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Top all of this off with a lackluster combat system, repetitive levels, and a story that's only for diehard fans, and you'll see why this and Re:Coded were relegated to animated films in the various HD collections.

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7. Kingdom Hearts: Re:Coded

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Kingdom Hearts: Re:Coded originally started its life as an episodic cellphone game in Japan, beginning in 2008 and ending in 2010, before being released on the Nintendo DS. This version came late in the DS's lifespan, and many would agree that it's easily the worst game in the series.

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Re-Coded is more of a filler game than anything else, with only small details that progress the over-arching story of Kingdom Hearts. It's such a pointless installment that many were relieved to hear that it was just remade into a movie when it was released in Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix.

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The game reuses every world from the original Kingdom Hearts and attempts to shake things up by adding different bits of gameplay to each of the various worlds. However, it suffers from being a jack off all trades, master of none.

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No element feels interesting or fun, as the various mechanics are not fleshed out, and none of the joy or wonder from past games is present, with the re-used environments feeling like pale imitations of their PS2 counterparts.

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I can't speak for everyone, but I'm pretty sure that no fan will say this game is their favorite. 

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It has been over 12 years since the release of Kingdom Hearts II, and fans have been patiently waiting for Kingdom Hearts III ever since. Now, this new entry is finally coming out in less than a week, and I think it's easy to say that, with new worlds and tons of amazing gameplay footage already revealed, many are excited to get their hands on the game.

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With that said, there have been a plethora of games in the series released after Kingdom Hearts II, and it's about time to see where they rank from worst to best. To make it on this list, the only requirement is that it has to have been released on an actual game console, so don't expect to see the likes of Union X here.

"}]]]>
9 Plot Points Kingdom Hearts 3 Needs to Resolve https://www.gameskinny.com/hdo1q/9-plot-points-kingdom-hearts-3-needs-to-resolve https://www.gameskinny.com/hdo1q/9-plot-points-kingdom-hearts-3-needs-to-resolve Fri, 11 Jan 2019 17:19:15 -0500 Josh Broadwell

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Balance Between Light and Dark

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Speaking of Xehanort’s motives, the concept of balancing light and dark needs some more detail.

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While having a world focused more on light doesn’t initially seem like a bad idea, you soon begin to see that a light-only world turns into something more like the Destiny Islands — a haven from reality that can’t last forever. It’s like an Ursula Le Guin setting, lovely on the surface, with something lurking underneath.

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In fact, ignoring the darkness led to Ansem’s original quest for knowledge and paved the way for Master Xehanort’s insatiable desire to know more. How correcting the balance between light and dark might affect the worlds is, of course, unclear — though it’s easy to guess that Master Xehanort’s methods probably aren’t the best ways to achieve this particular goal.

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Since almost everyone, good and not-so-great, has undergone some form of trial and has had to face the darkness in themselves and others, it’s not very likely the world can go back to the way it was before.

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All of the characters are more self-aware and work to incorporate balance in themselves and the world around them.

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---

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What are you hoping to see resolved in Kingdom Hearts 3? Let us know in the comments.

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Master Xehanort's True Intentions

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It’s not a stretch to say that the villain’s ultimate goal — and even the villains themselves — change in every Kingdom Hearts game.

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There was the fairly simple fight between light and dark in the original, which changed to the more complicated machinations in Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts 2, with the inclusion of Nobodies and their individual goals plus Xehanort’s goal of remaking the universe.

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Then Birth by Sleep shattered the relatively standard RPG trope of being god by including the X-Blade and Master Xehanort’s desire to remake the worlds, addressing an imbalance between light and dark. It featured, again, in Dream Drop Distance, but there’s yet to be any concrete discussion of why.

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Granted, explanation doesn’t always happen in RPGs, but for a series spanning over a decade now, it seems unlikely it’ll end without delving deeper into the particulars.

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Master Xehanort probably won’t be one of those misunderstood villains — he’s done too much bad for that — but the core idea of balancing light and dark has gradually become more prominent as the series has progressed, especially with Terra’s and Riku’s character arcs.

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Hopefully, there’ll be some more world building and plot exposition on the subject to help explain what Master Xehanort originally wanted.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/k/i/n/kingom-hearts-villain-kingdom-hearts-time-travel-0b920.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/k/i/n/kingom-hearts-villain-kingdom-hearts-time-travel-0b920.jpg","type":"slide","id":"193337","description":"

Time Travel

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Whenever time travel pops up in a story, it causes problems. How is it possible? Why is it necessary? How did it not completely skew everything else that happened?

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It’s not an altogether unexpected development in KH, since the plot gradually becomes more complicated as the games progress anyway, but it still raises some questions.

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Xehanort isn’t the only one who turned into a Heartless, so can others who have been Heartless at one point or another travel through time as well? If so, does that mean Nobodies can travel back to before they had their hearts removed and interact with their hosts?

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Perhaps it has some bearing on why we’re seeing dead Nobodies like Marluxia return in KH3. But even more importantly, it might relate to Terra’s redemption. He’s not exactly Heartless, but he’s fused with Xehanort’s heart, and he would still have a version of himself in the past.

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It would make sense.

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Typically, villains have some part of their grand schemes come back to bite them, but that hasn’t happened yet for Xehanort; he’s long overdue for some delicious irony.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/k/i/n/kingdom-hearts-namine-kingdom-hearts-who-namine-e6536.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/k/i/n/kingdom-hearts-namine-kingdom-hearts-who-namine-e6536.jpg","type":"slide","id":"193336","description":"

What about Namine?

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Namine is an interesting character. Based on KH lore, she shouldn’t really exist. Well, no Nobody should exist, but Namine isn’t even really a Nobody.

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That's because Kairi has no darkness in her heart; the Ansem Reports even comment that Namine is a curious Nobody, especially given how she was formed.

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Her existence adds a lot to the mystery to Nobodies and further suggests there’s more to them than just Heartless shells. More importantly, it makes Namine’s fusing with Kairi a bit confusing.

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Kairi never lost part of herself, and Namine — though not whole — wasn’t lacking anything noticeable. Instead, she gained a substantial bit of power over her surroundings and Sora.

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There’s always the possibility that Kairi harbors some sort of hidden darkness (despite being a Princess of Heart), suggested in Namine’s jealousy, and that’s how Namine was formed to begin with.

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It wouldn’t disqualify Kairi from being one of the Light bearers (just look at Riku) and it would play into the theme of balancing light and dark.

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But perhaps she’s simply a living metaphor for the personification of light, and that’s why she still interacts with her surroundings. Regardless, Namine must still have some work to do, else she wouldn’t feature on the box art as much.

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Roxas and Xion

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You would think Roxas’ and Xion’s arcs were finished. Xion disappeared into Roxas, and Roxas had to sacrifice his consciousness for Sora. But the KH3 box art says otherwise, and it’s not too difficult to see why.

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Many of the remaining plot threads revolve around sorting out the messes made of various characters’ hearts. This, of course, includes dealing with the Russian doll-type scenario of having more than one personality in a given body.

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Roxas is too important a character to leave “disappeared,” especially since he ties in with Ventus. However, if something happens with Roxas outside of Sora, then it follows that something will happen with Xion, the littlest doll in this set.

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From an emotional satisfaction perspective, it would be nice to see each of them develop their own, distinct personalities and live happy lives from there on.

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Yet it seems there might be some character resolution between Roxas and Sora necessary for either of them to move on. If Nobodies are the dark side of a person, and Roxas is Sora’s Nobody, then there’s some darkness in Sora that hasn’t yet been dealt with.

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Given Roxas’ chief desire at the beginning of KH2, it would probably be something to do with Sora as reluctant hero. If Sora satisfactorily deals with this, maybe Roxas can be put to rest like Axel, though what it means for Xion is anyone’s guess.

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Radiant Garden

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Radiant Garden is where it all began, and, as such, it features heavily in Kingdom Hearts' lore.

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Before the first game’s events, Maleficent and her horde of minions overtook the world, transforming it into the bleak and forbidding Hollow Bastion that players visit during one of Sora’s lowest points.

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It’s the exact opposite of Radiant Garden: home to terrors, darkness, and loneliness. But after the massive battle in KH2, efforts are underway to restore it to its former glory.

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That’s fine and dandy, but it isn’t until Birth by Sleep that you realize why Radiant Garden was so important to begin with. It was basically the home of everything good in the game — Kairi, Mickey, light in general, and the meeting ground for the forces of good.

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But as goodness is want to do, it gave birth to the darkness as well.

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Radiant Garden is essentially the KH universe’s barometer — thriving during the time of light, barren after darkness overtakes it, and striving for something better during Sora’s trials.

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What happens to Radiant Garden will largely reflect what happens in the story and characters, whether it’ll still be the symbolic center of the universe, or if it even should be, is another matter entirely.

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Dead Nobodies?

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Nobodies are confusing; we’ve already got that down. But what’s even more confusing is how — and whether — they die.

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Sora and Co. have dispatched quite a few Nobodies over the course of their adventures, most notably in Kingdom Hearts 2. Kingdom Hearts 3’s early trailers threw a bit of a wrench in their deaths, though, since notable Nobodies like Larxene and Vexen have apparently returned from the dead.

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Some of them have been “norted” (Oxford English Dictionary acceptance pending), which leads one to think Master Xehanort somehow revived their shells with his heart in them.

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Are these are the same Nobodies as before, or were their fledgling hearts just overrun with darkness?

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Thing is, some haven’t been and are now siding with Sora. Axel already proved it’s kinda hard for a Nobody to die, but it still leaves us wondering why.

\n

It could be some tie with their host that keeps them tethered to empty existence until they can be reunited once more.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/k/i/n/kingdom-hearts-nobodies-kingdom-hearts-what-nobody-2b2c4.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/k/i/n/kingdom-hearts-nobodies-kingdom-hearts-what-nobody-2b2c4.png","type":"slide","id":"193334","description":"

Image via The Arcade

\n

The Nature of Nobodies

\n

Nobodies are the most confusing and interesting aspect of Kingdom Hearts lore.

\n

Originally, they seemed fairly simple: empty, heartless shells of strong-willed people, some evil, some marginally less evil. But that changed slightly with Kingdom Hearts 2 introducing Roxas’s background and following Axel’s changes. This was before 358/2 Days chucked it completely by focusing on the very human side of Nobodies.

\n

With Axel disappearing into Lea again, Dream Drop Distance raised the biggest question: what makes a Nobody a Nobody  and how do they stop?

\n

Axel already developed human emotions and a will, but he was still a Nobody. If reuniting with the host was all it took, why didn’t all the Nobodies jealous of humanity and tricked into Xehanort’s plans fuse back with their hosts?

\n

It could be there’s some Persona going on here.

\n

Nobodies are like Shadows, dark fragments of their hosts, but it takes realizing what’s important to them — and on the host’s side, it takes understanding their own darkness — for transformation to happen. What you’re left with then is something new, like with Riku: not the old self, but not the dark self either.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/k/i/n/kingdom-hearts-what-happens-aqua-890bf.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/k/i/n/kingdom-hearts-what-happens-aqua-890bf.jpg","type":"slide","id":"193332","description":"

What Happens to Ventus, Terra, and Aqua?

\n

Aqua, Ventus, and Terra are three of KH’s most important characters, taking part in all of the background events that influenced the entire series. Their fates have yet to be resolved, though.

\n

Despite a dream version of Ventus making itself known here and there, the real Ventus remains asleep in Castle Oblivion. Terra is still trapped inside Xehanort, and Aqua remains lost in the Dark Meridian.

\n

Terra’s body is rather significant for plot purposes, so it’s likely something will happen to him, but whether that’s a good something — like getting his life back — or a bad something isn’t certain.

\n

The same goes for Ventus, but with a twist. If his heart is with Sora, how can Ventus be revived? And if Vanitas has something to do with it, will Ven be mostly darkness?

\n

Square Enix already said Aqua isn’t playable in KH3 and isn’t a major character; instead, the developer teased that she’s fallen under Master Xehanort’s influence. With the yellow eyes and all, it’s not a surprising turn of events.

\n

Aqua remained trapped in the Dark Meridian, while others like Mickey, Sora, and Riku could travel away from it, likely because they had conquered the darkness in their hearts.

\n

Having failed to save her friends can only have strengthened the darkness in Aqua, making her both an easy and a pitiable victim for Xehanort’s machinations. Whether she’s one of the 7 Guardians of Light, after all, remains to be seen.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/k/i/n/kingdom-hearts-b9083.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/k/i/n/kingdom-hearts-b9083.png","type":"slide","id":"193331","description":"

The Kingdom Hearts series spans multiple games, includes near-infinitely important characters, countless plot points. Unsurprisingly, it gets pretty confusing at times (thank you, Birth by Sleep).

\n

A series that needs entire games and decimal releases to set the plot up for the final game will naturally have some dangling plot elements that need some tidying up. Kingdom Hearts 3 is the last game in the Xehanort saga, so it's the ideal entry to set everything straight.

\n

We’ve put together a list of the nine plot threads we think are most important — things like what Nobodies really are, whether there’s logic in Master Xehanort’s plans and, of course, questions about fates of major characters, like Aqua and Namine.

\n

Many of these plot points will have to be resolved for the story to proceed, while others may forever remain a mystery. Naturally, we are about to venture into spoiler territory; proceed at your own risk. 

"}]]]>
8 Unforgettable Moments from the Kingdom Hearts Series https://www.gameskinny.com/ttp20/8-unforgettable-moments-from-the-kingdom-hearts-series https://www.gameskinny.com/ttp20/8-unforgettable-moments-from-the-kingdom-hearts-series Mon, 24 Dec 2018 14:00:02 -0500 Josh Broadwell

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Moment 1: Battle of 1,000 Heartless

\n
Game: Kingdom Hearts II
\n

It’s impossible to talk about great moments in Kingdom Hearts without talking about the Battle of 1,000 Heartless. It’s a fantastically epic conflict perfectly suited to KH2’s increasingly darker tone, and it offers several memorable moments.

\n

The first is seeing King Mickey in combat, where connections between the mouse warrior and Yoda, that other diminutive, semi-omniscient weapon master, cannot be avoided. It's a bit of fun in the middle of a serious battle for the world's fate.

\n

Then there’s the encounter with Sephiroth. The original KH threw this in as a big surprise, but it didn’t really have much story impact. Here, though, it’s the equivalent of Satan working against Sora and friends. Sephiroth is in his darker form, he’s got a purpose, and that purpose is, well, pretty much the same as in FFVII — destroy everything. More importantly, he fights against Cloud, making this one of the better Final Fantasy tie-ins throughout the many KH games.

\n

But the most memorable part of this battle is, without a doubt, Goofy. The game plays a terrible, dirty trick on the player and actually makes you think Goofy dies — the equivalent of Square Enix taking your favorite childhood pet and killing it in front of you.

\n

Obviously, he doesn’t really die, but it’s a heavy, emotional moment and adds a lot of impact to the remainder of the battle on whole, with almost tangible relief when Goofy eventually comes around.

\n

---

\n

Those are our top Kingdom Hearts picks, but let us know in the comments what your most memorable KH moments are!

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/8/3/5/835c1bfbbbb6487.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/8/3/5/835c1bfbbbb6487.jpg","type":"slide","id":"192900","description":"

Moment 2: Goodbye, Summer

\n
Game: Kingdom Hearts II
\n

Speaking of Roxas’s fate, that’s another standout moment in several ways. Kingdom Hearts 2 starts out deceptively, especially if you didn’t play Re: Chain of Memories. No Sora, no Donald and Goofy, but you do get Roxas… and Seifer. Unfortunately, though, he’s balanced by some more welcome cameos from FF favorites like Setzer and Vivi.

\n

You also get another set of rather frustrating, KH Destiny Islands style tasks to complete before you can do anything at all.

\n

Annoying as these tasks are, they ease you into what seems like Roxas’ normal life. He’s an average kid who wants to enjoy his summer with friends, hanging out around town and just being kids. Naturally, that can’t last for long; it ain’t called Twilight Town for nothin’.

\n

Part of Roxas’ summer adventures takes him into the mysterious Old Mansion, where he learns his true identity. For the game to proceed, Roxas has to accept his nature and disappear as an individual being. It’s a sad moment in itself: this kid who just wanted to have fun with his friends suddenly realizes he’s literally Nobody and has no real purpose in life.

\n

But it also provides the necessary emotional foundation for understanding the other sub-villains’ motives once they appear later in the game. Like Roxas, they just want a reason to live.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/6/4/5/645c1bfb7210ca0.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/6/4/5/645c1bfb7210ca0.jpg","type":"slide","id":"192899","description":"

Moment 3: Xion Fades Away

\n
Game: Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
\n

A lot of people would say the most memorable part of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days is when it’s finally over. That’s not far off the mark, but not for the same reason.

\n

True, the game has some (big) flaws, but the final reveal where Roxas (and you) learn the truth about Xion packs quite the punch and makes the series' lore even more complicated.

\n

Up to that point, there’s plenty of speculation about Xion, and it’s pretty obvious she isn’t a regular Nobody, but then it all comes out: she’s yet another aspect of Sora, albeit an artificial one. Apart from some interesting Persona-like commentary on the various aspects of individual identity, it shatters the usual Nobody schtick from Kingdom Hearts II.

\n

Nobodies and their hosts aren’t mutually exclusive, since Xion regained some of Sora’s memories and combined them with elements of Roxas. More importantly, she wants to save Roxas, implying affection, and Roxas wants to save her; in other words, Nobodies and hollow replicas can feel emotion after all, something you eventually find out applies to more than just Roxas and Namine.

\n

The scene also serves as a tragic foil to Sora’s various moments of reuniting with Kairi. Where Sora always saves Kairi somehow and manages to find his way back to her, Roxas watches as his sort-of Kairi disappears in front of him. The sense of loss and isolation pack an emotional punch on their own, but it’s an interesting foreshadowing of Roxas’s own eventual fate as well.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/h/o/l/hollow-085ea.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/h/o/l/hollow-085ea.jpg","type":"slide","id":"192898","description":"

Moment 4: Hollow Bastion

\n
Game: Kingdom Hearts
\n

Hollow Bastion is an important place in Kingdom Hearts lore, but it’s where the first game becomes more serious, and Sora gains a glimpse into something much bigger than his journey to find his friends. It’s also the first non-Disney world since Traverse Town, and that alone gives you an idea that something big’s about to happen.

\n

Of course, that's the fight with Riku, where all the tension and jealousy hinted at on Destiny Islands finally releases. Sora’s friends leave him for a time because of this fight, in a turn of events rather shocking the first time around. Suddenly, Sora is alone and friendless once more, all talk of loyalty and the ties that bind gone.

\n

Of course, the situation doesn’t last, and he gets his friends back, but then you see what happened to all the princesses. The sight has more impact for Disney fans, naturally, but it’s an important step forward in the games’ overarching plot, something you don’t really get the significance of until playing the other games.

\n

And then there’s Hollow Bastion’s crowning glory, the fight with Maleficent’s dragon form. Suddenly, the terrifying beast from your childhood cartoon days manifests in front of you, and it’s so.damn.tough to beat, yet so satisfying once it’s finished.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/6/2/5/625c1bfa4b70e01.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/6/2/5/625c1bfa4b70e01.jpg","type":"slide","id":"192894","description":"

Moment 5: Traverse Town

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Game: Kingdom Hearts
\n

You’ve made it through the enigmatic opening sequence, and you survived Destiny Islands and its occasionally frustrating platforming moments. But Traverse Town is where Kingdom Hearts really begins, for a number of reasons.

\n

It’s where Sora meets Donald and Goofy for the first time, and the player gets a better idea of how Keyblade combat works. But more importantly, it’s where the franchise’s key gimmick first shines through.

\n

Seeing Final Fantasy X’s side characters on Destiny Islands is nice, but little more than a cameo, really. Sora’s fight and subsequent conversation with “Leon,” plus seeing Cid working alongside Huey, Dewey, and Louis, forces the player to wrap their heads around how the KH world works: characters from everywhere end up together, fighting against the darkness that destroyed their homeworlds (even if that homeworld isn’t actually FF related.)

\n

It tells the player to leave behind their notions of Disney and Final Fantasy because despite merging both, this is something completely different. And centering their respective plights around Sora’s own journey means it works and works well.

\n

Traverse Town is a metaphor for the rest of the game and series — Sora’s first adventure, and the franchise as a whole, is seemingly simple on the surface, with a lot more going on underneath.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/3/9/5/395c1bfc73e0658.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/3/9/5/395c1bfc73e0658.jpg","type":"slide","id":"192902","description":"

Moment 6: Re: Beast's Castle

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Game: Kingdom Hearts II
\n

Backtracking in a non-Metroidvania game risks killing it completely in most cases for one reason or another. A lot of times, it’s just padding, and KH2 gives the impression that’s what the game’s second half will be like.

\n

Mulan-land wasn’t very fun to begin with, and going back there doesn’t change much, so when you first get to Beast’s Castle again, there isn’t a lot to hope for. Sure, it was a challenge the first time around, and the story necessitates it, but it still leaves you feeling a bit bored. Until the end. This is where Sora first fights Organization XIII (outside Castle Oblivion, that is), and it’s a fight to remember.

\n

In fact, it’s one of the game’s most noticeable difficulty spikes, and depending on your playstyle, the potential need for grinding beforehand is enough to make it memorable. Xaldin is a whole new kind of boss, fast, deadly, and resilient. The encounter makes you think on your feet, throwing in some Mega Man-style pattern recognition and avoidance as well.

\n

And it sets the tone for the game’s second half — darker, harder, and more demanding — while kicking off some major lore dumps as well, where you finally get a slight understanding of what’s really going on.

\n

 

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/b/b/s/bbs-73015.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/b/b/s/bbs-73015.jpg","type":"slide","id":"192901","description":"

Moment 7: Aqua's Finale

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Game: Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep
\n

If you had to point to one moment where Kingdom Hearts started getting a bit complicated, it’d be the entirety of Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. It’s also where Kingdom Hearts starts to resemble Star Wars in a few ways — prequels, ancient catastrophic warfare, Jedi…er, Keyblade Masters, and so on— but unlike Star Wars, this prequel is actually necessary, and no spot is more important than Aqua’s finale.

\n

The build-up to her confrontation with Xehanort takes the focus on bonds and friendship to a completely different level. Sora might not get to spend much time with Kairi after finding her again, and Riku’s got his own problems to sort out, but they’re all still together; they work through their problems and come together when it matters.

\n

Not so for Aqua. Not only does she have to sacrifice herself at one point to rescue Ventus and hopefully find some way of saving Terra, but it’s completely hopeless. Ventus slips into a seemingly endless slumber, while Terra loses himself completely to Xehanort, becoming his vessel and, by extension, the source of conflict in the mainline games.

\n

Friendship didn’t save the day here. Even if it provided the means by which hope could be restored in the future, it still left one main character broken in the end, and that’s something you don’t see much in Kingdom Hearts.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/2/2/5/225c1bfcb4a42b4.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/2/2/5/225c1bfcb4a42b4.jpg","type":"slide","id":"192903","description":"

Moment 8: Lea's Keyblade

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Game: Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
\n

Poor Axel. Like Roxas, he just wants a purpose for living, even if that purpose happens to be eating bright blue ice cream on a rooftop with friends. Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance finally gives him a purpose, but not what you'd expect.

\n

Despite working for some form of good throughout the series, everything ends up going badly for Axel. He’s torn between protecting one friend or another,  loses them both, potentially develops some feelings for Kairi—possibly because of her connection with Xion — but naturally can’t act on them, all before having to give up himself and his memories so Lea, the "real" Axel, can be revived.

\n

His extensive history in the series gives the player a lot more investment in Lea than would otherwise have been the case, so the lead-up to this moment is much more engaging than it would be for your average NPC. Lea ends up responsible for saving Sora yet again, for rescuing Queen Minnie, and basically for keeping the entire world from falling apart.

\n

That he finally gains a Keyblade for his trouble is a fitting reward for his actions and all Axel endured, but it also means he can fight to right the wrongs done to him and all of his friends, Nobody and normal, finally starting to tie up the many, many loose ends KH dropped all over the place.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/h/e/a/header-1903d.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/h/e/a/header-1903d.jpg","type":"slide","id":"192893","description":"

Sixteen years ago, if you said a mashup combining Final Fantasy and Disney centered around a large-footed child wielding a key as a weapon would be a smash hit and spawn multiple sequels and spin-offs, with the final game being one of 2019’s most anticipated games, people probably would have laughed at you. 

\n

On paper, it’s a crazy idea, almost fanfiction-y in nature, and yet it worked fantastically. While we’re all anxiously awaiting Kingdom Hearts 3’s debut next month, now's the perfect time to indulge in some nostalgia and consider the franchise’s finer moments.

\n

There are a lot of them, big and small, but we’ve managed to distill them down to the nine most memorable moments. As would be expected with a list like this, there will be some big spoilers for the games mentioned, so if you haven't played them yet, read at your own risk. 

"}]]]>
The World Ends With You: Final Mix Review https://www.gameskinny.com/zvrwi/the-world-ends-with-you-final-mix-review https://www.gameskinny.com/zvrwi/the-world-ends-with-you-final-mix-review Tue, 06 Nov 2018 14:12:55 -0500 Joseph Ocasio

Released back in 2007, The World Ends With You quickly cultivated a cult fanbase thanks to its unique anime, urban-street-culture presentation and original use of the DS touchscreen.

Since then, TWEWY has been released on iOS and the characters have made an appearance in Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance.

I was one of the many people who missed out on the JRPG when it originally released, and I thought it was a good time to see if it still holds up now that it's on the Nintendo Switch. The World Ends With You: Final Mix edition touts itself as the definitive version of the beloved cult hit, complete with HD graphics and a new control scheme.

After playing it, I can say it's one of the most difficult to talk about games I've ever had to review. 

TWEWY puts you into the shoes of Neku, your typical angst-ridden, anti-socialite. While Neku starts off as a wet blanket, seeing him grow from hateful misanthrope to (somewhat of a) paragon is at the core of the story -- and it's mostly well done.

The cast of colorful side-characters helps liven things up and make endearing Neku's anti-social personality worth the trip. The writing can expositional and it runs into cliche story beat's you've seen in countless anime, but it's still a decently-told tale.

 

What TWEWY does do well is embrace a unique style and presentation.

The streets of Shibuya are oozing with urban culture and the citizens that inhabit the city give life to this virtual re-creation of Japan's version of Time Square.

Tetsuya Nomura, known for his work on Kingdom Hearts, not only produced TWEWY but was the art and character designer. His work is on full display and mixes well with the street-art style that TWEWY is known for. Colors are a bit more muted than in other games in the genre, but that only adds to the game's overall immersion.

The final mix version adds more detail to the backgrounds and models. Characters, in particular, look less like 16-bit sprites and more like hand-drawn models, similar to what you see in a manga or comic book.

The environments also look much crisper and less pixelated than past versions, giving a game with tons of personality even more. 

There's still no game that matches TWEWY's sense of urban fashion and, even on an HD TV, the game still looks great despite its age.

Adding to the game's presentation is the fantastic soundtrack. From hip-hop to bits of J-pop, the game's music is almost 100% vocal and never feels out-of-place. It's so good, you might just want to get it on iTunes (it'll be stuck in your head for a week. You're welcome).

The final mix contains a remastered version of the original soundtrack, with updated tracks and melodies, that are even more pleasing to listen to. But, if you prefer the original version, you can always opt to change it in the options menu, which is a nice touch for returning fans.

Combat in TWEWY  takes place in real time, and will make use of either one of the Switch's Joy-Cons when docked, or the touchscreen when in handheld mode.

Either control style you choose will have you swiping, moving Neku and his partner via pins you collect. These powers can range from simple melee slashes to various forms of kinesis. You'll set enemies aflame, zap them with lightning, or even throw objects on the field. You can only switch between three pins powers in combat, but you can change which ones you want while in the pause screen.

Combat starts off basic, but slowly ramps up. Mixing and matching pins to your playstyle is generally a good time thanks to the flashy feedback you get. It all makes for a unique combat system but one that's begging for either a traditional control scheme or one that makes use of a stylus.

In my experience, it's better to not use the Joy-Con at all. The docked control scheme is just awful, as the Joy-Con's Gyro-sensor just isn't that responsive to keep up with the hectic action.

There's no way to turn off motion controls, so you're stuck with them whenever you're playing on the TV. Constantly flailing your arm to emulate a stylus just doesn't work and makes the game nearly unplayable. It's a shame that for a system that has the moniker, "you can play anywhere", gaming on the TV is a pain.

Fortunately, you can play with the game's touchscreen -- and it works well. The game will occasionally misinterpret one touch for another, but that never becomes too much of a problem.

What can be problematic, though, is the disconnect between story and gameplay in the exploration sections. An early mission, for example, will have you looking at a statue and trying to figure out what's wrong with it. You'll know what you have to do with it, but the game won't let you interact with it unless you search for a thought bubble that tells you what you already know what to do.

Despite these nuisances, TWEWY is still a fun game to play -- even after all these years. There are very few games that contain the style and gameplay that has yet to be re-created and it's easy to see how it gain such a strong cult following.

However, it sits in this weird state where it's both the best and worst version of the game. It's a hard deal to accept, especially at the $50 price tag. The game looks better than ever and plays well, so as long as you keep out of docked mode.

If you only have a Nintendo Switch, it's worth picking up. Just beware of some tacky choices here and there.

]]>
The Year of Legendary Pokemon Concludes with Lugia and Ho-Oh https://www.gameskinny.com/wm3ti/the-year-of-legendary-pokemon-concludes-with-lugia-and-ho-oh https://www.gameskinny.com/wm3ti/the-year-of-legendary-pokemon-concludes-with-lugia-and-ho-oh Fri, 02 Nov 2018 14:31:50 -0400 William R. Parks

"It's going to be a huge year for Pokemon," The Pokemon Company wrote in January, "and there's no better way to celebrate it than with Legendary Pokemon!"

And thus, the Year of Legendary Pokemon began, a yearlong celebration that has given owners of Pokemon Sun, Moon, Ultra Sun, and Ultra Moon access to an array of downloadable, Legendary Pocket Monsters.

November marks the conclusion of the festivities, and with it come two final Legendary Pokemon: Lugia for fans with copies of Sun or Ultra Sun and Ho-Oh for those with Moon or Ultra Moon.

Trainers can pickup the download codes required to activate these Legendaries exclusively at GameStop from November 2 to November 25.

With a code in-hand, these flying Pokemon can be accessed by selecting Mystery Gift on your game's main menu, then Receive Gift, and finally Get with Code/Password, where you will enter your download code.

Then, simply speak with a delivery person in any Pokemon Center and voila, your Legendary Pokemon has arrived.

As has been done with the Pokemon previously distributed for the Year of Legendary Pokemon, the versions of Lugia and Ho-Oh for Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon will be Level 100 while those for Sun and Moon will be only Level 60.

Additionally, the Ultra versions come with a Gold Bottle Cap for Hyper Training and a different move-set than their non-Ultra counterparts.

Here is a full look at these last celebratory Legendaries from the press release:

Lugia

Lugia's wings pack devastating power--even a light fluttering of its wings can blow apart regular houses. As a result, this Pokémon chooses to live out of sight deep under the sea.

Lugia will be distributed with the following characteristics:

Pokémon Ultra Sun
Lv. 100
Ability: Pressure
Held Item: Gold Bottle Cap
Moves: Aeroblast, Earth Power, Psychic, Tailwind

Pokémon Sun
Lv. 60
Ability: Pressure
Moves: Skill Swap, Aeroblast, Extrasensory, Ancient Power

Ho-Oh

Ho-Oh's feathers glow in seven colors depending on the angle at which they are struck by light. This Pokémon is said to live at the foot of a rainbow.

Ho-Oh will be distributed with the following characteristics:

Pokémon Ultra Moon
Lv. 100
Ability: Pressure
Held Item: Gold Bottle Cap
Moves: Sacred Fire, Brave Bird, Earthquake, Tailwind

Pokémon Moon
Lv. 60
Ability: Pressure
Moves: Burn Up, Sacred Fire, Extrasensory, Ancient Power

With the looming November 16 release of Pokemon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!, as well as a core entry scheduled to come to Switch in 2019, Pokemon fans have plenty to be excited about.

In the mean time, why not dive into these wonderful, handheld entries one last time with a new Lugia or Ho-Oh?

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Dragon Quest Monsters 20th Anniversary "Coming of Age Ceremony" Live Stream to Air November 6 https://www.gameskinny.com/tfbp8/dragon-quest-monsters-20th-anniversary-coming-of-age-ceremony-live-stream-to-air-november-6 https://www.gameskinny.com/tfbp8/dragon-quest-monsters-20th-anniversary-coming-of-age-ceremony-live-stream-to-air-november-6 Wed, 31 Oct 2018 11:31:01 -0400 Erroll Maas

Square Enix has announced that it will host a Dragon Quest Monsters "Coming-of-Age Ceremony” on November 6 at 7:00 a.m. EDT on Niconico, a Japanese video sharing service. 

The live stream will consists of two parts, with the first looking back at the past 20 years of the Dragon Quest Monsters spin off series. The second portion will look toward the future of the series.

The live stream will also include a handful of guests, including Series Creator Yuji Horii, Dragon Quest Monsters Series Producer Taichi Inuzuka, Dragon Quest Monsters Super Light producer Takamasa Shiba, Dragon Quest: Dokodemo Monster Parade Producer Yuuta Ashimine, Dragon Quest XI 3DS Version Producer Kento Yokota, Dragon Quest XI Director Takeshi Uchikawa, Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker Battle Director Jin Fujisawa, and V-Jump Deputy Editor Saito-V. Ayana Tsubaki will host as emcee.

Dragon Quest Monsters is a monster taming RPG spin off of the main Dragon Quest franchise, which expands on monster recruiting elements first introduced in Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride. The first title in the series, Dragon Quest Monsters (known as Dragon Warrior Monsters outside of Japan) first released for the Game Boy Color in Japan on September 25, 1998, in North America on January 25, 2000, and in Europe on January 28, 2000.

After the positive reception of the first game, the series continued with a two-version sequel on Game Boy Color, a remake of the Game Boy Color games on PlayStation. There was also a single Game Boy Advance title, the first two games in the Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker series on Nintendo DS, a few mobile games, including Dragon Quest Monsters: Super Light, and more remakes of the Game Boy Color games as well as Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 3 on Nintendo 3DS.

The last Dragon Quest Monsters title to be released outside of Japan was Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 2 on Nintendo DS in 2011.

Stay tuned to GameSkinny for updates from the live stream.

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Top Five Kirby Spin-Off Games https://www.gameskinny.com/caabb/top-five-kirby-spin-off-games https://www.gameskinny.com/caabb/top-five-kirby-spin-off-games Fri, 07 Sep 2018 14:32:57 -0400 Lee Forgione

Kirby fans know that the series falls into two categories. There are the classic platforming action games like Kirby Star Allies and Kirby's Dreamland, and then there are the experimental games that shove Kirby into every possible scenario from racing to pinball. Some of these titles are hit or miss but most of them are pretty fun. Here are the five best Kirby spin-off games.

5. Kirby's Pinball Land (Game Boy)

Released on the Game Boy in 1993, Kirby's Pinball Land kicks off the tangent of side games Kirby would star in over the years. More than just a pinball game featuring Kirby, this game involved ascending through a series of levels by shooting Kirby past the top of the screen. The third screen up is where a Warpstar could be found that would take you to a boss fight against Whispy Woods, Kracko, and the Poppy Bros. After clearing all three stages, you must face King Dedede in his famous boxing ring.

This game pulls all sorts of tricks to stop you in your tracks like having characters throw you back down if you run into them and freezing up the pinball flippers so you can't knock Kirby back up. It's still a fun game to this day and can be found in the 3DS eShop for only a few bucks, so give it a try. 

4. Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble (Game Boy Color)

Utilizing a motion-sensing device built directly into the game cartridge, Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble let players control the direction of Kirby by tilting the Game Boy Color in various directions. The goal was to guide Kirby through a series of obstacles and hazards to the end of the level. Jerking the Game Boy Color upward made Kirby jump, adding an extra layer of skill to the game. There are eight worlds, each with a boss battle at the end, as well as an assortment of mini-games. A sequel was in the works for the GameCube and would have used the GBA adapter to control Kirby, but this game was ultimately canceled.

3. Kirby Canvas Curse (Nintendo DS)

One of the most unique experiences from HAL Laboratory featured the touch screen of the Nintendo DS for its control scheme. In Kirby Canvas Curse, you guide Kirby to the end of each stage by drawing rainbow lines on the touch screen to move him along. Drawing loop de loops gives Kirby a boost of speed which helps clear trickier areas. This ability is limited, however, by a bar that depletes as you draw, so you have to carefully plan out each route while keeping an eye on this meter.

Tapping Kirby will either propel him forward and damage enemies or unleash whichever copy ability you're currently using, including Wheel, Beam, Stone and more. Featuring eight full worlds, boss battles, and some really fun mini-games, Canvas Curse sits near the top of the Kirby side-game hierarchy. A follow up to this game, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, was released on the Wii U with mixed reception and a new clay model art style. 

2. Kirby Air Ride (GameCube)

The first and only Kirby racing game was also the only game in the series to be released on the GameCube. Throwing its own unique spin on the genre, acceleration was not activated via holding a button pressed down. Instead, each vehicle moved on its own and the A button was used to pull off speed boosting moves, use copy abilities, and come to a complete stop.

There are three modes to play around with, Air Ride, Top Ride, and City Trial. Air Ride is your basic Grand Prix featuring several sprawling tracks to race through. Top Ride presents a top-down view of a small self-contained track full of power-ups and hazards, while City Trial, the most popular of the three modes, puts players on a huge map together. The goal is to break open boxes and collect different power-ups that boost your top speed, turning, acceleration, and more. There's a set time limit, and at the end of each round players are pit against each other in a mini-game such as a battle royale or a drag race. Which power-ups you've collected will determine your success rate.

1. Kirby's Dream Course (SNES)

Last but not least is Kirby's Dream Course for the SNES, which I consider to be the crown jewel of the bunch. This game puts an interesting spin on golf as the goal is not simply to go for the hole. Before you can do that, you must first clear the board of all its enemies and the last enemy standing will turn into the hole. There's a variety of copy-abilities available to help you navigate the board. The Fireball ability sends you burning through the stage in whatever direction you're facing and the Freeze ability helps you pass water hazards by freezing it solid, allowing you to slide across.

Adding another layer of strategy to the game is the ability to curve your shots in different directions and keeping Kirby bouncing by pressing the A button upon landing. If all of these copy-abilities and special moves are orchestrated in a perfect fashion, it's possible to get a hole-in-one on every course. Anyone who can pull this off on some of the later courses is an insane genius as it takes a ton of dexterity to pull this off. 

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What did you think of this list of Kirby spin-off games? Are there any games you would have liked to see make the cut? Sound off in the comments below.

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7 Forgotten Video Games in Desperate Need of a Sequel https://www.gameskinny.com/ngvl5/7-forgotten-video-games-in-desperate-need-of-a-sequel https://www.gameskinny.com/ngvl5/7-forgotten-video-games-in-desperate-need-of-a-sequel Wed, 27 Jun 2018 10:27:43 -0400 Edgar Wulf

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Skies of Arcadia

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Known in Japan as Eternal Arcadia and widely regarded as one of the best RPG's of all time, Skies of Arcadia tells a unique tale about a group of air pirates and their struggle against an oppressive empire. It's a story underlined by a strong political motif.

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The game features a diverse cast of memorable characters, both heroes and villains, as well as a vast 3D world which is open to exploration in a fully customizable airship.

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Engaging in ship-to-ship combat acts as one of the game's main highlights.

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The game was launched exclusively on the Dreamcast and later ported to the GameCube as Skies of Arcadia: Legends which included additional exclusive content.

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There are no official news on a potential sequel, but considering the recent revival of the Shenmue saga, this gem of an RPG may yet see the light of day.

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---

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That concludes the list. Is there a game you love which has a long overdue sequel? Let us know in the comments below, and for news on sequels as and when they are released stay tuned to GameSkinny!

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Mini Ninjas

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A surprisingly great game published by Eidos Interactive in 2009, Mini Ninjas is a charming title bursting with a palette of color and animation.

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Its engrossing world and complete lack of violence make it appropriate to players of any age -- including young children -- yet it's not a childish to be ignored by adults, either.

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Its story focuses on five distinctly unique little ninjas who are tasked with an arduous mission of thwarting the plans of the evil Samurai Warlord. There are many exciting activities to partake in along the way, collectables to discover, and funny bosses to defeat.

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There's currently zero information on a sequel, but the game has received numerous ports and spin-offs and will likely be included in Square Enix's future plans, who is now owner of this title.

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Haunting Ground

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Another great, off-the-radar title by Capcom.

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Despite being a spiritual successor to Clock Tower 3, Haunting Ground can very well stand on its own. Largely thanks to its gripping plot, eerie atmosphere, and its in-your-face "Peeping Tom" nature.

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It tells a story about Fiona, an 18-year-old girl who finds herself imprisoned in a castle, with barely any memories on how she got there. She is subsequently chased by various terrifying inhabitants of the castle and befriends a dog named Hewie, who aids her in the quest of a successful escape.

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Much like God Hand, this title did not sell too well and was met with a diverse range of critical responses.

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Nevertheless, the game's positive aspects were highly praised and it has since developed a loyal fanbase which no doubt hopes for a sequel in the not-too-distant future.

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God Hand

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Unfortunately for God Hand, it was a game released late into the sixth console generation. This amazing brawler hit the store shelves in the U.S. during October 2006 -- a mere month before the launch of the PlayStation 3.

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God Hand is all about over-the-top action and humor, mind-boggling, thumb-twitching combos, and a complete disregard for the laws of physics. It helps the game has a wide assortment of incredible boss battles -- almost all of which Western players should have the privilege of experiencing.

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Its "mediocrity" was met with little critical acclaim, at least initially. Since its release, however, the game has garnered a lot of positive attention and is included in many noteworthy compilations (such as this one ^_^).

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Given the poor sales, a sequel is unlikely. But perhaps Capcom will provide Gene -- the game's main protagonist -- another chance. The original is available for download on PSN.

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Extermination

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There's more than horror games on this list, I promise.

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This title went widely unnoticed by the general gaming community and was received by the critics with lukewarm fanfare. Nonetheless, it provided a more than decent survival-horror experience on the PlayStation 2.

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The player controls Dennis Riley, a U.S. Marine who, together with his partner Roger, must infiltrate a secret research base in Antarctica after receiving a distress signal. Extermination plays out similarly to other games in the genre, such as Dino Crisis and Resident Evil.

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The game features a predictable storyline and a glut of cheesy dialogue, but it's redeemed by great sound design and atmosphere, heavily resembling John Carpenter's movie The Thing.

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It was among the first titles on PlayStation 2 and was used to showcase the console's capabilities, therefore selling reasonably well for the time. Alas, a sequel is highly unlikely, though one can dream.

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Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem

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An unusual title released exclusively on the GameCube was made even more unusual when taking Nintendo's generally family-friendly ecosystem into context. Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem is an M-rated horror game and, more importantly, pretty darn good at that.

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At its core, it's very much like any classic Resident Evil title, especially given its third-person perspective and "tank controls". The concept is kept fresh by an intriguing story, featuring multiple playable characters across numerous historical periods and a unique Sanity mechanic.

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The sanity meter, upon reaching a certain threshold, would not only affect a character's composure but sometimes also simulate a lifelike failure of the console's hardware: in a very Kojima-esque manner.

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A canceled sequel was in development and a spiritual successor titled Shadow of the Eternals is, allegedly, still in the works.

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Nintendo owns the rights to the original name, so it's anyone's guess if it will officially return. But with the Switch seemingly embracing some aspects of the Mature genre in titles like Doom, there is hope. 

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Alan Wake

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One of the strongest exclusives on the Xbox 360, even though it was later released for Microsoft Windows, Alan Wake masterfully combines ideas from series like Silent Hill and the vibe of TV shows such as Twin Peaks into a terrifying whole.

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It follows the story of an acclaimed writer who is going through a creative crisis and decides to take a break by going on a vacation with his loving wife. A potentially romantic getaway quickly turns south as grisly events from a mysterious book written by Alan -- unbeknown to himself -- begin to unfold.

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A sequel was in development but got canceled due to the first game's slightly underwhelming commercial performance, which was partially attributed to a high rate of piracy.

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That said, the game has amassed a devout following and Alan Wake 2 is not necessarily out of the question.

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(Please note: Alan Wake's American Nightmare is not regarded as a sequel. It is instead a DLC.)

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While many publishers often don't have second thoughts about flooding the market with annual revisions of their most commercially viable franchise, not every publisher takes that path. Some games are forgotten and their legacy, however big or small, neglected and swept under the metaphorical rug.

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However, some fans are persistent and vocal enough to bring old IPs -- or even whole series -- back to life; Shenmue I & II HD serves as an excellent example of such dedication. Other, less fortunate titles are forever ignored, without merely a hint of a potential resurrection.

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These unfortunate outcasts are mostly kept alive by loyal fans who express their appreciation of a particular video game or franchise via cosplay, music, and original artworks, for example.

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There is a valid argument to be made that some stories should remain singular; developing a sequel would just complicate things. However, if certain titles receive the privilege of being released annually, then even a one-off follow-up to any of these entries wouldn't hurt, especially given their prolonged absence.

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This compilation is comprised of games which have to date had only one official main entry and not released for at least five years.

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Click "Next" on the bottom-right to view these games in alphabetical order.

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