PSP Platform RSS Feed | PSP RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network The PS Vita, PS3 Digital Stores Will Not Close This Summer Tue, 20 Apr 2021 18:30:34 -0400 David Carcasole

Sony has reversed their decision to close the PS3 and PS Vita stores this summer, but the PSP store will still officially shut down as scheduled. The news comes straight from SIE President and CEO Jim Ryan through a post on the PlayStation Blog. 

Ryan referenced fan feedback regarding the initial news to close the digital stores last month. 

"It’s clear that we made the wrong decision here," Ryan said. "So today I’m happy to say that we will be keeping the PlayStation Store operational for PS3 and PS Vita devices. PSP commerce functionality will retire on July 2, 2021, as planned."

This is a very welcome reversal for all Sony fans and keeping these games readily available. Since the first announcement of the stores closing, fans have actively voiced their disappointment on social media and grabbed up PS3, Vita, and PSP games before they disappeared (here's a list of great indies to get even in light of this news). 

Though the loss of the PSP store still looms, acting as the death knell for the portable, at the very least, there is still a small PSP library available through the PS Vita and PS3 stores. 

Ryan shed further light on the decision to reverse the store closures and said that other PlayStation products, at least in the eyes of Sony, required greater attention that could be reallocated from the PS3, Vita, and PSP. 

When we initially came to the decision to end purchasing support for PS3 and PS Vita, it was born out of a number of factors, including commerce support challenges for older devices and the ability for us to focus more of our resources on newer devices where a majority of our gamers are playing on.

We see now that many of you are incredibly passionate about being able to continue purchasing classic games on PS3 and PS Vita for the foreseeable future, so I’m glad we were able to find a solution to continue operations."

It's nice to know that Sony is listening to its fanbase, though it is still troubling that these closures were possibilities in the first place. Rather than continue to live with the worry that these stores will disappear, it's clear that Sony needs a grander backwards compatibility solution, just as they do with PS Now. 

13 Indies to Get Even Though the PS3 & Vita Digital Stores are Staying Open Wed, 31 Mar 2021 11:14:26 -0400 Anthony McGlynn


Tokyo Jungle

Platforms: PS3

As everyone learned about the PlayStation 3, PSP, and PS Vita's digital stores closing, this was one of the games atop many lists of recommendations. Made, once again by Japan Studio, you control a cat, exploring a derelict Tokyo that's become overgrown, meeting other animals. It's science fiction that's quiet, all about the years between anything of note going on.




Given the circumstances, it stands as a metaphor for digital spaces long after we've upgraded and moved on. Someday, much of what we love will be unkempt and covered in vines, and our attempts to salvage it will be like this cat, navigating the wilds of a different community that's formed in the aftermath.




Keeping these games gives them another life, one that's just as valid as what came before. What games are you downloading ahead of the closure of these digital stores? Let us know in the comments below. 



Platforms: PS3, PS Vita

The best and worst pitch for Proteus is from its Wikipedia page: “The game was involved in numerous discussions of video games as art, with some debating whether it could be considered a video game at all.”




Upon landing on an island, full of bright green pixel-art trees and greenery, you wander, and then you wander some more, enjoying the sights and sounds, and then you wander some more.




Very little happens in Proteus, but that's the point. In a time when we've barely left our houses for a year, Proteus stands to make you remember why going outside is such a privilege. Games can be many things, and sometimes, what they aren't making us do helps us understand what we can do. Proteus is a video game, and it's a great one.


The Last Guy

Platforms: PS3

A novel spin on the survival genre: you control the character using a top-down satellite feed, rounding up people that are still alive in cities under attack from a monstrous threat, and bringing them to safety. Moving away from the likes of Earth Defence Force or Resident Evil, The Last Guy evokes Snake on the Nokia 3210, growing a tail that you've to constantly maneuver around, moving around the map's buildings and pathways.




Playing it now, you can see shades of what it was trying in 2019's Days Gone. Japan Studio made something different here that's well worth preserving for yourself.



Platforms: PS3

A physics-based platform-puzzler, Might and Delight's Pid won't deliver anything you haven't seen a dozen times already, especially in a post-Celeste world. This still holds weight, however, because you can feel the excitement of its era when you play it.




Arriving in 2012, Pid is part of the tail end of that first wave of Xbox Live Arcade indie classics. It's not genre-defining by any means, but the strange, alien characters and landscapes, and ridged use of corridors and forward momentum still hold that air of mystique that came with exploring the PS3 and Xbox Live stores back then. Retro Family's grooving soundtrack doesn't hurt either.



Platforms: PS3

Another piece of twee magic from Japan Studio, Rain has a lot of Ghibli-esque charm to it. A young boy and girl must escape evil forces in a mid-twentieth century European city, eventually finding themselves in a heartwarming tale of companionship.




Ori and the Blind Forest, Inside, and many other fantastical platform adventures since have dulled this a little, but the watercolor imagery that bookends it, and the Eurocentric locales, do tug on the heartstrings still. Give it a look on a quiet afternoon.


Frobisher Says!

Platforms: PS Vita

Once upon a time, it seemed like Sony believed in the Vita. Frobisher Says! is a product of that. It's a strange, WarioWare-like collection of minigames that deftly demonstrates the touchscreen capabilities of the handheld. The animation looks like something thrown together in Flash, then fixed up in Photoshop, and one of the games is just about finding cats in the living room.




Where many of the Vita exclusives rely on AR cards, making them much harder to pick up nowadays, this just needs you and a console. Up to eight players can take part – when we can all hang out again, there's no better way to remember Sony's forgotten child.


Trash Panic

Platforms: PS3



It's Tetris but it's trash, and if you're anything like us, that'll be enough to perk your interest. For the rest of you, this anarchic version of Alexey Pajitnov's puzzler from Japan Studio is a reminder of just how easy, and endless, sorting out the rubbish really is.




When you're winning, it's good encouragement to keep up with your chores because they only take substantial time if you put them off. When you lose, there's a little sense of understanding that these tasks are forever, and it's OK to be overwhelmed sometimes because we are messy creatures. Tetris clones are a dime-a-dozen but don't let this one get lost in the pile.


Cloudberry Kingdom

Platforms: PS3

For a minute, the industry was obsessed by two things: hardcore platforming, and procedural generation. Spelunky, Super Meat Boy, Terraria, Minecraft, The Binding of Isaac, many of the hits of the late-noughties, and early-tens used one or the other, or both.




Cloudberry Kingdom by Pwnee Studios is part of the latter. You and up to three others can bounce through its loud, freeform stages, engaging in friendly competition about who can die in the most ridiculous way. Rayman Legends and New Super Mario Bros have since become the rulers of this kind of chaotic play, making Cloudberry Kingdom like a strange deconstruction of their wily charms, like either has been left in the sun too long. Good fun.


Ibb and Obb 

Platforms: PS3

Given the success of It Takes Two, it's safe to say co-op adventures have a lot of life in them. Ibb and Obb is a physics-bending co-operative jaunt from Sparpweed Games whose use of warm, garish colors, soft corners, and blobby titular characters make it a solid throwback.




Every surface is a dividing line, and you'll have to take turns to figure out what the best way forward is. Everything's 3D-modelled but held in 2D space, like an internet animation from 1999 come to life, and the rectangular hills give a nod to Super Mario Bros. 3, but as if someone's truly mangled it for their own devices. Delightfully weird.



Platforms: PS3

Some of the finest game developers in the industry came through the PlayStation 3 and Xbox Live Arcade, including Tyler Glaiel, a recurring collaborator of Edmund McMillen's.




Glaiel co-developed Closure, a simple black-and-white puzzler about finding and getting the most out of the light in any given stage, with Jon Schubbe. It's a simple, intuitive game and is part of the foundation of the indie scene we understand today. This is history, and you'd do well to keep the lights on for it.


Papo and Yo 

Platforms: PS3

Three years before we had The Last Guardian, Papo and Yo gave us all the feelings about a boy and his monster. Running from his abusive father, Quico finds himself transported to a strange, fantasy favela where he befriends a gorilla-like companion. Together, the pair solve puzzles, moving around the rooms and blocks of the favela at will to progress.




Lead designer Vincent Caballero developed the game as a way of dealing with the abuse he endured throughout his upbringing from his alcoholic father. The metaphor isn't subtle, but it's well-handled, delivering a heartbreakingly candid ending.


Sine Mora

Platforms: PS3, PS Vita

Remember that time Goichi 'Suda51' Suda and famed Silent Hill composer Akira Yamaoka worked together on a bullet hell shooter? No? Well, now's your chance to catch up. Co-developed by Digital Reality, this arrived in 2012, the same year as Lollipop Chainsaw, and was very much under the radar as a result.




On top of being a finely-tuned piece of arcade action, the flow of the 2.5D art, especially in the transitions from stage-to-stage, is at times distractingly good. The backgrounds are rich in detail, closely resembling the concept art they're based on. An enhanced version was released for PlayStation 4, but if you want the original, or if you're like it on the go, you know what you have to do.


Eat Them

Platforms: PS3

There aren't many good kaiju games, but Eat Them! is one of the greats. This cel-shaded destruct-a-thon from FluffyLogic is a neat little package of big monster action, featuring single-player and multiplayer.




The action is simple, and the charm of breaking stuff and defeating other beasts does tend to wear off after an hour or two. But those quick sessions are so satisfying that this is one capable of sitting happily on the hard-drive for years to come.




When you aren't crunching through all the buildings and objects in your way, the charming comic book-like menus and layout frame everything like a late-nineties comics event that never happened. 


Editor's note: Sony has announced that it will not close the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita digital stores in summer 2021 as the company had previously planned. They will still close the PSP store, though. You can read more here. The original list follows. 


Sony has announced the sunsetting of the digital stores for PS3, PS Vita, and PSP. This, unfortunately, means a great many games are going to become unavailable for purchase.


The PlayStation 3 was part of a boom in indie development, when the freeware and shareware model from PC finally came to home consoles in the form of the PlayStation Store and Xbox Live Arcade. The result was wave after wave of creativity from some of the best studios and developers of the modern era.


From July 2, 2021, the PS3 and PSP games on this list won't be available to buy anymore, and starting August 17, neither will the Vita games.


Though it seems some major companies don't care much for preservation, you will (thankfully) be able to always download anything you already own, doing your part to keep games history alive and playable.


However, the number of indie games on these platforms is massive, so there may be some you've missed out on. Just in case, we've put together a list of 13 games you really should consider picking up now, lest you miss out on them forever.

The Longest Games to Sink Hundreds of Hours Into Fri, 27 Mar 2020 17:44:37 -0400 Ty Arthur


Monster Hunter Freedom Unite


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.


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.




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!


Star Citizen


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. 


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


Pokemon Black and White


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.


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.


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!


Fire Emblem Three Houses


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. 


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. 


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.


Persona 5


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.


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.


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.


Disgaea Series


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.


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.


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 ... 


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.


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.




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.


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.


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. 


Any Civilization Game


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. 


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.  


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. 


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


Sins Of A Solar Empire Rebellion


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. 


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. 


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


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. 


Heroes Of Might And Magic 3


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.


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.


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. 


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.


Baldur's Gate 2


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.


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.


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.


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. 


Kingdom Come: Deliverance


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.


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. 


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. 




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.


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.


Ark: Survival Evolved


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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. 


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. 

FF7R Producer Would Like to See Parasite Eve Come Back Thu, 05 Mar 2020 14:21:36 -0500 Ashley Shankle

It's been a while since we've heard anything about Square Enix's Parasite Eve, as the horror RPG series has been lying dormant for nearly a whole decade.

Main character Aya Brea's last foray, titled The 3rd Birthday, on PSP met critical success and sold well in both Japan and North America despite the previous game in the series being released all the way back on the original PlayStation.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake and The 3rd Birthday producer Yoshinori Kitase stated during an interview on Square Enix's official YouTube channel that it would be "a waste" not to bring Parasite Eve's characters back in this age of horror titles.

Kitase stated he didn't know of any plans to bring Aya Brea back to the gaming space, but he does feel that now is a good time to see her return. After all, Square Enix is currently seeing a boom of RPG remasters and remakes while Capcom is busy remaking key classic entries to the Resident Evil series.

Now does seem the best time to bring Parasite Eve into the collective gaming consciousness once again.

Do you think it's time Parasite Eve saw a comeback, even if in remake form? Let us know in the comments below!

Stay tuned for more on Parasite Eve, which we'll hopefully have more on in the future. Fingers crossed. 

PlayStation Store's Halloween Sale is Devilishly Divine Tue, 15 Oct 2019 17:45:15 -0400 Josh Broadwell

It wouldn't be Halloween without a few frighteningly good sales, and the PlayStation Store has PS4 players covered with its special Halloween Sale from now until 11 a.m. on November 1

There are more than 200 titles on offer, from the genuinely scary Resident Evil 2 to the psychologically horrifying The Sinking City. Luckily, for those out there easily spooked, there are some atmospheric but not scary options like Divinity — Original Sin 2.

Here's a sampling of the treats you'll find:

  • Resident Evil 2 Deluxe Edition — $34.99
  • Resident Evil Triple Pack — $23.79
  • Divinity — Original Sin II: Definitive Edition — $35.99
  • Fallout 4: GOTY Edition — $23.99
  • Devil May Cry 5: Deluxe Edition — $34.99
  • Metro Exodus — $29.99
  • We Happy Few$29.99
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus — $19.79
  • A Plague Tale: Innocence — $29.99
  • Dark Souls Remastered $19.99
  • Nights of Azure — $23.99
  • Zanki Zero: Last Beginning — $29.99
  • The Walking Dead: The Telltale Definitive Series — $34.99
  • Little Nightmares: Complete Edition — $7.49
  • Killing Floor 2 — $14.99
  • The Evil Within: Digital Bundle — $14.99
  • Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition — $5.99
  • Destroy All Humans! — $2.99
  • Diablo III: Rise of the Necromancer — $7.49
  • Hollow Knight: Voidheart Edition — $8.99

That's just a sampling of everything on sale, and the full list can be found here.

If you're in the mood for more Halloween, be sure to check out our games with Halloween events list, too.

An Introduction to Trails: The Best JRPG Franchise You've (Probably) Never Heard Of Fri, 29 Mar 2019 13:37:32 -0400 Josh Broadwell

The gaming universe is vast, and it's easy for games to fly under the radar, regardless of how good they are. That's certainly the case for Nihon Falcom's long-lived Trails series.

It started life as a spin-off The Legend of Heroes franchise, which is itself a sub-series of Dragon Slayer, one of the oldest CRPGs in existence, and despite developing a devoted following in Japan, the series remains relatively unknown and one of the most underrated RPG series in the West.

That might be about to change, though. Xseed has released remakes of the first two Trails of Cold Steel games, the first of which — The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, Decisive Edition — launched this week, and NISA will be localizing and publishing the third game in the series this fall.

For newcomers to the franchise, it can seem like an impenetrable mass of names, lore, re-releases, and confusion. If you love story-based RPGs, though it's worth sorting through it all and diving into. Think of this handy piece as your one-stop intro and FAQ rolled into one.

The Basics

There are the three Trails in the Sky games, collectively referred to as the Liberl arc; there's Sky FC (first chapter), Sky SC (second chapter), and Sky the 3rd, which doesn't need much explanation.

The next games are Zero no Kiseki and Ao no Kiseki, known as the Crossbell arc and translated loosely as Trails to Zero and Trails to Azure, respectively.

Then come the four Trails of Cold Steel games that make up the Erebonia arc, two of which remain unreleased outside Japan.

The Trails games take place in the same universe over the span of roughly three or four years on the continent of Zemuria, and they’re heavily story based.

Terms and people that pop up in the first Sky game will be important later in the series, while a character who makes a minor appearance in the first Trails of Cold Steel is also a major antagonist in Ao no Kiseki and plays an important role in CSIII.

Or a new perspective will be introduced that completely changes how you view the plot so far.

And despite being nine games strong, the overall plot is only at 80% completion, according to Falcom president Toshihiro Kondo. It's the sort of depth reserved for lengthy novel series, something you rarely see in video games.

Characters and Story Structure

Like the rest of Falcom’s offerings, the Trails games don’t break the RPG mold. However, they do use it in creative ways and combine various different strands of mechanics and characterization into a high-quality, engaging package.

Most characters will, initially, resemble a trope you might have seen elsewhere — the sexy big sister with a passion for drink, the quiet young man with a past, the brash tomboy, and so on. But the character development is handled in such a way that the tropes gradually fade away until you’re left with a believable, dynamic personality.

One notable example of deeper characterization involves Estelle Bright, the protagonist of Sky FC and SC and the brash tomboy mentioned earlier.

Normally in Japanese games, you expect lots of positivity and platitudes about kindness and hope. Yet when Estelle responds to the coldest of cynicism and most brutal callousness with hope for a brighter future and redemption, you believe her, just because that’s who the character is. It takes good writing and characterization to pull that off in a genre stuffed full of tropes.

The Trails games aren’t afraid to tackle heavier subjects either, from PTSD and mass murder, to exploitation and the darkest of tragedies. These things are handled surprisingly well too, with believable outcomes and greater coherence than some other examples of RPGs that deal with more profound themes like Xenogears and Persona.

Though it isn't opposed to throwing in some humor either

The story is part of what makes the games so unique and worthwhile as well, though it might take some getting used to for some players. Each game follows a set structure, and the first game in each arc begins slowly — some more than others.

Typically, around the halfway point, the action picks up noticeably, and players get a partial idea of the larger scenario before that comfortable structure is completely shattered, and everything rises in a dramatic crescendo as you propel to the conclusion.

With the exception of Zero no Kiseki, the first game in each arc also ends with a massive cliffhanger. If you’re just joining the series now, consider yourself lucky that you can power through without waiting years in between for the next installment. For the most part.

It's difficult to go into much detail about the plots without entering spoiler territory, but here's a short overview.

The Sky games juxtapose an intimate family story with a sinister political plot that eventually gives way to something with much broader implications for Zemuria and Estelle personally.

It's also a coming of age story done well. The way information is revealed about important events and the gameworld in general, the player only realizes the full extent of people's and nations' motivations and how the world works as Estelle does, making that moment of emotional and mental maturity seem much more natural than is often the case.

The two Crossbell games expand on what the Sky games started in a vastly different setting, the urban commercial city of Crossbell. It combines personal stories with local politics, including  gang problems, woven around broader political troubles associated with the tiny country's massive, warmongering neighbors, Erebonia and Calvard.

The Cold Steel arc presents some of the same events from the Erebonian perspective and was meant to introduce new players to the series. These games include the same personal and political emphases as earlier ones, though they add even more dimensions to the political and focus on what constitutes a moral use of power and how those considerations should guide a military nation. It's also wrapped around a school story with some slice of life elements.

Useful Quests

In between progressing the main plot, you’ll take on a variety of side and main quests that help you get to know the places the game takes place in and the people who live there.

For the Sky games, you act as Bracers — a sort of NGO organization dedicated to helping civilians and maintaining peace — while Cold Steel puts you in the role of student council aid, and the main characters in Zero and Ao are part of a special police force.

Quests come in a variety of forms, from fetch quests to monster exterminations, but they're wrapped around interesting concepts. One quest might involve talking to different people to gather information, but the end goal is re-uniting an orphan with her extended family after they were separated during a war.

As you can imagine with quests like that, the NPCs are one element that makes the Trails universe unique, since their dialogue and lives tend to change with each major story beat. It sounds tame on paper (who plays a game for NPCs after all?) but experiencing it is a different matter. Along with the top-notch writing and engaging characters, it’s yet another way the games manage to immerse players in the story.

Anton's story unfolds across almost every Trails game.

Going Into It Blind

A common question is whether to use a guide for playing Trails games. Because there are easily missable hidden quests in each chapter of each game, it’s tempting to reach for a guide immediately.

But like the Persona games, it’s better to just do your best and work through the game your own way first, so you can experience everything organically, instead of just completing tasks. The games are meant to be played through more than once anyway, especially the Cold Steel games, and the second playthrough is when you can focus on full completion.

Deep Combat System

Trails games are also RPGs with innovative combat systems that each series improves on. It retains the movement-based structure of the earlier Legend of Heroes games, while adding almost endless customization options how you build your characters.

Each character wields a specific weapon type and has access to a growing range of attacks called Crafts. Crafts often have a wider range than normal attacks or cause some sort of status effect.

The other main attack type is Arts, which work basically the same as magic in other RPGs and is where Trails combat gets interesting. In the Sky games and Zero, the arts a character can use depend on what quartz you insert into a machine called a battle orbment (Trails jargon).

The quartz are created using shards of crystallized elemental energy and grant certain bonuses — increased attack or defense, shorter casing times, and such like — while having an elemental grade, so to speak; these bonuses and grades increase with higher level quartz.

For example, in Sky FC, the HP 1 quartz increases HP by 5% and has a value of 1 for water; HP 2 increases HP by 10% and has a value of 3 for water.

The arts a character can cast depend on the values of each element in their orbment, with higher level spells requiring a combination of elements at varying grades. Some characters are built to favor certain elements, with some slots in their orbment being restricted to a specific element. With the exception of a few characters, though, you’re free to focus a character primarily on Arts, on strength, or on both.

It’s also where Falcom experiments the most in terms of combat. Each Sky game adds new quartz and new Arts. Zero follows suit, but Ao no Kiseki includes Master Quartz, which level up through battle and grant different arts and stat increases depending on which Master Quartz is used. Cold Steel uses these as well, but removes the element combination component. Instead, individual quartz will grant access to specific arts.

It’s a minor touch, but it speaks to Falcom’s design philosophy: keep what works, innovate where you can, and make a game for the fans first and foremost.

Stellar Soundtracks

All the Trails games rank among the top games with the best soundtracks as well. Falcom’s in house team, the Falcom JDK Sound Team, creates the soundtracks for each. Like the games themselves, the tracks might not re-invent video game music, but they certainly get used in effective ways.

The opening tracks feature J-pop style vocals from Kanako Kotera with lyrics that (in English) set the tone for each game. For example, Ashita E No Kodou combines cheerfulness and unity with recognition of a lurking darkness, which basically describes the entirety of the first Cold Steel game, while Aoi Kiseki revolves around the themes of loss and suffering that permeate Ao no Kiseki.

Trails in the Sky the 3rd gets Cry for Me, Cry for You, a foreboding song whose significance players only understand as they begin the game’s last chapter.  Sky FC is the exception. It gets an overture-style opening and closes with Hoshi no Arika, an emotive song that matches perfectly with the somber and resigned ending players just witnessed.

Falcom also has a way of bringing in the right track at just the right moment, and in some cases, it’s the only moment you hear the track, making it even more memorable. For Sky FC and SC, that honor goes to Silver Will (with SC getting the Super Arrange version). The 3rd — which actually has one of the strongest soundtracks of the series — can boast Overdosing Heavenly Bliss, Cradle Where Feelings Rest, and Masquerade of Lies as some of its most effective pieces.

The Cold Steel games are much vaster and have too many excellent musical moments to count. Atrocious Raid, leading into Belief, is one of the most notable in the first game, with the earlier Shoshin/First Visit showcasing the OST's diversity nicely.

Keeping Things in Order

With all the names being thrown around, you might be wondering “what order should I play the Trails games in?” The answer is less definite than you may think.

The short answer to the play order question is “start with the first one in whichever arc” and “just don’t start with Zero.”  

That’s pretty easy advice to follow, since Zero and Ao haven’t been localized, and you have to jump through some hoops to legally play them and their fan translations. But the main reason is just because Zero is a direct continuation of the Sky games, and you’d greatly benefit from playing either FC and SC first or all three.

If you’re looking for an RPG that hearkens back to the glory days of yore, yet includes all the mod cons of contemporary gaming, then Trails of Cold Steel is where you should start. Falcom intentionally designed the games as newcomer friendly to help ease people into the series anyway.

You might not pick up on the same Easter eggs as players who’ve gone through the other games, but you’ll still easily understand what’s going on. Plus, it gives you a different perspective on the Sky games if you do go back and play them.

If you want to experience the story from the beginning and see the gameplay mechanics evolve, and you don’t mind slightly older mechanics, then the Sky games are the best way to go.

Regardless, just don’t try to jump into any arc mid-way, or you’ll completely spoil the story and be entirely clueless about what’s going on at the same time.

Changing Things Up

One question that floats around on the internet a fair bit is “Is Trails in the Sky the 3rd canon?” Yes, definitely.

In fact, The 3rd was created after production began on Zero. Falcom realized there needed to be some kind of tie-in between the Sky arc and the next two games for everything to make sense. Given how the Crossbell games tie in with the Cold Steel games, The 3rd also provides some insight into the Erebonia arc.

The primary story uncovers Father Kevin Graham’s, an important character from Sky SC, mysterious past, but the side stories flesh out other characters’ backgrounds, fill in the gaps between what happens at the end of SC and right before Zero starts, and provide foreshadowing for the future games.

If you enjoy the first two Sky games, you’d do yourself a disservice to skip it. That goes double if you liked the personal element of the Sky story, since Kevin’s tale even manages to eclipse that.

If you don’t want to spend the time on it but want some of the important background information, just watch gameplay videos for Star Door 8, Star Door 14, and Star Door 15.

Be warned: Star Door 15 contains disturbing (but not graphic) content explaining how a certain character you meet in Sky SC came to be the way she is.

It goes without saying that if you watch any of these without playing the first two Sky games, you’ll spoil a lot of the plot-related enjoyment.

Multiple Versions

Having gone through all of that, there's still one potentially confusing barrier left to overcome: which version of each Trails game is the best.

It depends on your needs. If you prefer portability, the PSP (or PSN for Vita) version would be your best bet. True, it’s not quite as polished as the PC version, but it’s still excellent. If not, then the PC version would likely be best. Along with the updated translation, it has sharper graphics and added quality of life features like Turbo Mode to speed things up.

If you want to legally play the Crossbell games, PC is your only real option for experiencing the main games. Falcom granted another Japanese company the rights to create updated versions of the Liberl and Crossbell arcs under the moniker EVO (evolution) that released on the PlayStation Vita, but were never localized.

The games tweaked some of the visuals (not always for the best) expanded most breasts by about ten times their original size just for the sake of it, and included voice acting, among some other changes. English patches do exist for the EVO games, but require a hacked Vita system to implement.

The portability factor is the other deciding feature for the Erebonia arc. The Vita version has longer loading times and framerate issues, while the PC version boasts improved graphics, QoL features, and more voiced lines.

Or if you have a PlayStation 4, you can do yourself a favor and pick up the Decisive Edition of the first Cold Steel and the Relentless Edition of the second when they launch at the end of March. They have even more voiced lines than the PC version, with improved graphics, and a number of other features.


With their lengthy stories and heaps of dialogue, the Trails games might not be for everyone. If you're looking for a game to settle down with for a while, you enjoy niche RPGs, and you like the idea of a video game series with a plot akin to something you'd find in a novel, any story arc of the Trails games would be well worth your time.

Ranking the Kingdom Hearts Games From Worst to Best Fri, 25 Jan 2019 00:03:46 -0500 Joseph Ocasio


1. Kingdom Hearts


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.


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.


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.


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.


2. Kingdom Hearts II


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.


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


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. 


3. Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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. 


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.


4. Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance


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.


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.


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.


5. Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


6. Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


7. Kingdom Hearts: Re:Coded


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.

Level-5 To Bring Ushiro to Nintendo Switch Tue, 23 Oct 2018 12:47:55 -0400 Erroll Maas

The preview for a new issue of Famitsu has teased that a horror RPG known as Ushiro, which was originally planned to launch on the PlayStation Portable and first announced in 2008 before it was canceled, will now be coming to Nintendo Switch.

Ushiro was originally planned to be a cross-media project, and despite the game's cancellation, it still received both light novel and manga adaptations.

A trailer for the PSP version of the game was first shown at Tokyo Game Show 2008 and can be found on YouTube. It shows some of the purported gameplay, although it is unknown how different the Nintendo Switch version will be.

More information about the formerly canceled title has not yet been revealed, but it will be available when the full issue of Famitsu is released.

In addition to more information on Ushiro, this upcoming issue of Famitsu is set to have a 40-page feature for the 20th anniversary of Level-5, which will include an interview with Level-5 president Akihiro Hino.

Ushiro will come to Nintendo Switch sometime in the near future. Keep an eye to GameSkinny for any updates on the returning title and the release of this new issue of Famitsu.


Another 10 Badass Video Game Characters You Shouldn't Mess With Thu, 26 Jul 2018 10:25:41 -0400 Edgar Wulf


Ryo Hazuki

Shenmue (1999)

Shenmue's Ryo Hazuki may not be the most skilled fighter, but he gets the job done.


After being forced onto a path of revenge, Ryo must evolve from a regular, impulsive teenager into an imposing martial artist, learning new moves and styles from masters across Japan and Hong Kong. Ultimately, he develops his body and spirit to face the ultimate adversary, Lan Di. After almost two decades, his story is yet to reach its finale.




That is it for this list. If you think a character is missing, they may be on the original list. If they're not, then comment down below on who you would like to see and, as always, stay tuned to GameSkinny for more badass compilations.


Kazuma Kiryu

Yakuza (2005)

This man has been through it all; he has felled numerous skilled fighters, dealt with a thief of female underwear, and even taken care of a baby. A chairman of the highly respected Tojo Clan, Kazuma Kiryu is a master in many fields, including martial arts, which he gracefully employs to protect his friends, children, and simply beat up random punks on streets who annoy him. 


Yakuza's Kiryu has a distinctive dragon tattoo covering his back, he enjoys drinking whiskey, fishing, and singing karaoke. Call him.


John Marston

Red Dead Redemption (2010)

Perhaps one of the most tragic heroes in gaming, John Marston knows the definition of dire straits all too well. Compelled to reunite with his family, who are being held captive by the government, Marston embarks on a harrowing journey through the chaos-sphere that is the Wild West. 


He is an outlaw -- a criminal, even -- and has no doubt committed numerous questionable deeds. But despite that, it is almost impossible to not relate with his noble intentions.


Red Dead Redemption's John is a deadly sharpshooter -- especially during his signature "Dead Eye" mode -- and takes down many opposing factions on his quest which, ultimately and unfortunately, leads to a bittersweet conclusion



The Last of Us (2013)

Ellie might seem harmless enough; after all, she is just a child in the original The Last of Us. Past experiences and many gruesome events, however, have conditioned her to become a merciless killer -- being able to stand up for herself and those she cares about.


She learns that, in a world where nobody can be trusted, a switchblade and a sniper rifle are your best friends. Them, and that Joel guy who has taught her how to survive in a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by monsters. That helps, too. 



Doom (1993)

Not the fanciest name for someone who rips demons apart with his bare hands, but, thankfully, actions speak much louder than words. Doomguy is the eternally silent protagonist of the Doom series, one of the most historically significant franchises in the industry.


He is agile, brutally strong, and remorseless; he doesn't have a love interest, though he may or may not have a special relationship with his signature chainsaw or destroying hordes of Hellspawn.



Darksiders II (2012)

Death is the main character in the sequel to Darksiders, one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, and a brother to the first game's protagonist: War. He uses stylish scythes to slice and dice his opponents while employing stylish, yet devastating combos to come out victorious. He even transforms into a terrifying reaper to finish off his most resilient foes.


The mask -- which Death never removes -- is not only for aesthetics: it adds a depth of mystery to the character, making him even more badass. 



Devil May Cry (2001)

Dante's twin brother -- Vergil -- is already featured on our first list of 10 Most Badass Video Game Characters, but Dante deserves a spot just as much, if not more, than his brother. 


Possessing the enhancing power to transform into a demon -- much like his evil sibling -- Devil May Cry's Dante gives preference to oversized swords. However, he never lets go of his trusty handguns (Ebony and Ivory), which he uses to soften enemies up before cutting them into pieces.


At times, Dante may act somewhat cocky and playful, but he always backs it up with unprecedented skill.


Big Boss

Metal Gear (1987)

Solid Snake may be considered the main protagonist of the Metal Gear Solid series, but let's face it: he wouldn't even exist without Big Boss.


Boss' first appearance was in the original Metal Gear, though he didn't become a playable character until much later when Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater was released. An unfortunate encounter with his former mentor leaves him with countless bruises, dislocated joints, and broken bones; later on, he even gets his eye shot out.


Despite all that, he manages to complete his mission, earning him the legendary title -- Big Boss. The rest, as they say, is history. 


Aranea Highwind

Final Fantasy XV (2016)

This gorgeous blonde may very well be the most stylish Final Fantasy character in over a decade. She joins Final Fantasy XV's party of heroes as a dominating force -- however briefly -- and adds an amusing flavor to their conversations.


Aranea dons stylish battle armor and employs an impressively-sized lance during combat, which, of course, decimates her opponents. Beautiful, confident, and strong, Aranea Highwind is not hesitant to take on multiple foes at once -- and deals with them in brutal, timely fashion.


Ada Wong

Resident Evil 2 (1998)

Ada first appears in Resident Evil 2 as a supporting character, but she later plays a much more significant role in Resident Evil 4, where she receives her own story scenario: Separate Ways.


Her personality and background are rather mysterious, though she seems to have an affection toward a certain someone (ahem). Ada tends to prefer lightweight, conventional weaponry like handguns and machine guns, but when push comes to shove, she is also a deceptively skilled hand-to-hand combatant.


In a franchise full of badass characters, Ada often gets overlooked by casual fans, which is just too bad. 


As it turns out, our original list of the 10 most badass video game characters needs an update. I mean, there are more than 10 badass characters in the pantheon of gaming. Surprising, right?


That is why we decided to whip up a follow-up list including more of those badasses; 10 more, to be precise. Some of these characters are defined by superhuman strength, some by unique traits, some by the armory of weapons they possess, and some by the events they've endured. Ultimately, they are all bound by the same uncanny traits: individually completing meaningful tasks, defeating their enemies and, basically, getting sh** done.


Much like our original list, this one is based on two simple criteria:

  • Only one character per franchise (per individual list)
  • \n
  • The character is playable at any point in the particular series in question or must represent a playable party of characters
  • \n

Let's get started. 

Looking Back at Greece: Ranking the Original God of War Games Wed, 09 May 2018 12:54:57 -0400 Joseph Ocasio


1. God of War III


The last game in the original series (chronologically speaking), God of War III promised us amazing visuals, improved combat, epic boss fights, and a final confrontation with the remaining gods of Olympus. Luckily, God of War III did all of this and more.


Additions like grappling enemies were welcomed, the combat was just as great as ever, and the kills you got bordered on realistic. You really did feel like those creatures were real, and the devs spent a lot of time killing them in every way so they could get every finishing move just right.


Along with all of that were amazing boss fights and excellent pacing, where you never got bored and were basically killing one god after another. Few games can match God of War III's sense of scale and action. This game does all of what God of War games do so well, and that it easily makes it the best game in the series and a must-play action game.




What did you think of this list? How would you rank the original God of War games? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to stick with GameSkinny for all things God of War, including our guides on the latest masterpiece!


2. God of War II


With the original becoming a classic, it's obvious Sony wanted to continue on with a sequel, and boy did they deliver with this sequel, which sees Kratos disobeying the gods and abusing his power before he's betrayed by Zeus and off on another quest for revenge.


God of War II improves upon nearly every aspect of the original, with fewer platforming sequences, improved puzzles, and much more. The combat is the same, but if it ain't broke, don't fix it.


Along with some new additions, like gliding and slowing down time, God of War II also featured great set pieces, tons of boss fights, and outstanding art design, helping to elevate it over the original by a landfall. It made for the perfect game to close out the PS2 era of gaming.


3. God of War: Ghost of Sparta


The second and last handheld God of War game proved to be one of the best installments in the series. Ghost of Sparta takes place sometime after the original and has Kratos looking for his brother, Demos.


It's a surprisingly well-told tale that helps humanize Kratos, showing a bit of his childhood and explaining why he comes to despise his fellow gods. This installment also still keeps the great combat from past games and manages to outshine its predecessor (Chains of Olympus) in every way, with better pacing and some great additions, like adding fire to your blades.


It may not have as many of the great bosses that we've come to expect from the series, and it was on the short side, but it's one that's still worth playing.


4. God of War (2005)


The game that started it all, the original God of War is considered one of the best action games of all time, and a lot of it still holds up. The dark story of Kratos seeking revenge against Ares is just as strong as it was back in the day, the combat is still bloodily satisfying, and the bosses remain amazing.


So, why is it in the lower half of this list if it's a classic? Well, there are some things about the original that haven't aged well.The second act can feel somewhat padded out, the combat isn't quite as robust and responsive as it was in later games, and a few puzzles can get annoyingly difficult.


However, those are manageable when compared to the awful platforming, climbing, and balancing sections of the game. Sure, God of War's platforming isn't what people remember, but you know what will stick in people's minds? Sections where you can't judge your jump and you die over and over again.


Oh, and that section where you climb out of hell before you can take on the last boss can go right up Hades' ass: It's broken beyond belief.


5. God of War: Ascension


"Before he was a god, he was a man" was the quote that tried to sell us on God of War: Ascension. In many ways, that stands true, as Ascension was the first game in the series that showed us that even the greatest franchises can let us down.


To this game's credit, Ascension did try to make some changes to the formula, and it was an extremely polished game. The combat was fun, with some changes made for the better (like how Magic worked), and it still had some great set pieces and boss battles.


But while the story did do a better job as a prequel than Chains of Olympus, it lacked any sort of tension or surprise; we knew what was going to happen to all of these characters by the game's end. It also didn't help that some changes, like the reworked Rage meter, were made more for the worse.


It ultimately just didn't really do much to evolve the series, especially after God of War III, making it feel like a game that was made so they could squeeze another title out before the PS4 came out. Ascension is a solid game, but it's one that feels pretty minuscule when compared to the more epic servings we got before.


Oh, and the multiplayer was dull. Did I forget that? Well, so did the rest of the world.


6. God of War: Chains of Olympus


The first prequel to the series, as well as the first handheld installment, God of War: Chains of Olympus took us six months in to Kratos' early days of work for the gods, so he could get his revenge.


Chains of Olympus was hailed in its day for being one of the best portable games of all time since it managed to put everything you wanted in a God of War game on to a handheld system. That said, Chains of Olympus hasn't aged that well, especially compared to the series' other handheld title.


Chains of Olympus feels much more simple when compared to other installments. It's mostly just filled with combat, at the cost of variety and the epic boss battles that previous games had.


The story, despite having a great ending, doesn't really add much to the series lore, and the characters introduced here aren't that memorable. It's still a decent title, with the trademarked combat being up to snuff, but it's just one that feels like a product of its time.


With the latest God of War released to universal acclaim, I think it's about time to look back at the original series that's entertained fans for the past 12 years.


God of War holds a special place in my heart. The original was one of the very first M-rated games I ever played (at the tender age of 14), and I was hooked by the game's bloody combat, giant monsters, rage-filled protagonist, and tons of nude women (again, I was 14 years old). Looking back, I see God of War as something akin to the death metal craze that swept the 80s.


It wasn't until a bit later -- once I started to appreciate the skill-based combat, dramatic storytelling (and not-so-dramatic stories of some installments), and darker take on Greek mythology -- that I got it.


So I decided to boot up my PS4, subscribe to PlayStation Now, and take a look back at the series that helped define myself as a gamer.

10 Open World Video Games Set In Historical Eras Sun, 10 Dec 2017 15:06:55 -0500 Louis Bulaong


Learning about history has never been so much fun. These titles have shown that video games can also be an educational way of learning about the past and see just how awesome our ancestors were when they kicked butt back then. With titles such as Red Dead Redemption 2 and Kingdom Come: Deliverance on the way, expect a lot more historical games to be released in the future. 


Until then, grab a medieval sword, cowboy pistols, and a history book and go have some fun with these games on the list!


Red Dead Redemption


Available on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360


When Red Dead Redemption was released, it not only changed how historical games are made, it revolutionized how open-world video games should be played as a whole.


In Red Dead Redemption, you play as John Marston, a former outlaw who is forced by the government to save his family. While open world games set in the Wild West are not a new idea (just look at previous titles like Gun and Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood), Red Dead Redemption is different by adding a morality system. This system affects gameplay whenever players act as a protector of the law or a bloodthirsty criminal.


Players can traverse through the dying American frontier and across diverse environments, including snowy mountains, swamps and rivers, green forests, and deserts. They can also can gamble in towns, herd cattle as a cowboy, hunt animals, and engage in gunfights and duels. Everything from the diction and horses, to even the newspapers and moving pictures of the day is depicted accurately. Top it off with an amazing, Oscar-worthy story, and one could reasonably argue Rockstar created one of the greatest video games of all time.


Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag


Available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, Steam


Of all the historical open world video games out there, the Assassin’s Creed series is by far the most well-known. The entire franchise spans many different historical eras, from the Third Crusade, Renaissance, the Age of Revolutions and many others. The best game in the series however, is the one that takes place in the Golden Age of Piracy, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.


In the game, players take control of a pirate named Edward Kenway, and it certainly delivered on the swashbuckling action and high seas exploration that was expected of it. As a pirate, players can raid ports and other ships, find treasure hidden in uncharted islands or deep underwater, and fight soldiers and other pirates with cutlasses and flintlock pistols.


While not entirely the most historically accurate game in the bunch (the series is sci-fi, after all), the game does well in resurrecting the Carribean during the age of the pirate, from the environment to even the historical individuals like Black Beard and Anne Bonney.


The Saboteur


Available on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows


There have been a lot of World War II games, but only one that used an open world environment. The Saboteur is an action adventure game starring an angry Irish resistance fighter named Sean Devlin, as he fights for liberty and vengeance in Nazi-occupied Paris. With an assortment of WWII weapons and vehicles, Sean Devlin fights for the French people by battling soldiers and destroying their war machines.


What makes The Saboteur unique from the others is that it combines the gameplay of two of the best open-world game series, but in a WWII setting: Grand Theft Auto and Assassin’s Creed. Sean Devlin can roam around the city, stealthily destroying enemy outposts like V2 rockets and AT guns, or climbing famous sites such as the Eiffel Tower, that have been decorated in Nazi symbols. It's difficult to find another game that immerses the player so fully in the setting and combines setting so skillfully with gameplay.


Far Cry Primal


Available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam


Far Cry Primal is a bit different, since it's one of a few games set in pre-history--the time of cavemen, massive creatures, and life without the perks (or life expectancy) of civilization. The Far Cry series is known for its creative use of first-person gameplay in a free-roam type setting, but this time developers replaced firearms and vehicles with stone-age weapons and ancient beasts.


In Far Cry Primal players take control of a hunter named Takkar in the Mesolithic age, as he treks through lush, but unforgiving environments, hunts beasts like mammoths and saber-tooth tigers, and fights other cavemen and tribes for vital resources. Takkar can also tame animals that he can use at his disposal--an interesting and chronologically accurate depiction of the transition of mankind from a hunter-gatherer society to the time of settlement and conquering nature itself.


The Testament of Sherlock Holmes


Available on: Xbox 360, Windows


The long-running indie series Adventures of Sherlock Holmes has been scratching that open-world detective video game itch for over a decade, long before L.A. Noire. In this series, Sherlock Holmes solve a variety of cases, many of which pitted him against other famous characters, like Arsene Lupin, Jack the Ripper and the Cult of Cthulhu. Besides giving the players the chance to solve mysterious crimes, many of the games in this series also offer the chance to roam around places in Victorian England.


Frogwares has done well in meticulously researching the history of 19th century London. But when the sixth installment, The Testament of Sherlock Holmes came out, more effort and attention to detail was given to really create that authentic look for the HD generation.


While not entirely an open world game, players are still free to roam around the downtrodden Whitechapel District itself to see the dark Gothic buildings and the dreary economic state of much of the city. This great attention to detail turned this indie title into one of the best detective games of all time.


Mafia II


Available on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC


From games like Grand Theft Auto, Saints Row and Sleeping Dogs, it's easy to say gangsters are one of the most popular protagonists in many open world video games. So who wouldn't want to play as a tommy gun-wielding mobster in the 1950s? Thankfully for those who do, developer 2K Czech released Mafia II in 2010, where players take control of mobster Vito Scarletta throughout his criminal career. This particular game makes you feel like a true gangster better than many of its contemporaries.


Unlike L.A. Noire, where you play as a law enforcer, in Mafia II, you play as a gangster who is free to cause carnage with tommy guns and a variety of classic cars. The developers included multiple details, large and small, to give the game a nice '50s vibe, from the rock and roll music, to the classic mobster suits and greasers jacket, and even collectibles in the form of vintage Playboy covers.


L.A. Noire 


Available on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Steam, Xbox One


Rockstar, a developer that can easily be seen as a master of open-world games, has released several sandbox games set in various historical eras. One of them is L.A. Noire, a detective game that takes place in the scandalous era of 1940s Los Angeles.


Players take control of Cole Phelps, a WWII veteran who joined the police force, as he climbs the career ladder from beat cop to renowned detective. The game is reminiscent of all the classic noire stories and pulp fiction of the past, with players interrogating witnesses and investigating crime scenes across the colorful landscape of Los Angeles.


Players fight criminals using tommy guns, Hollywood style gossip can be indulged in, and you can even drive along the old Hollywoodland sign. And let's face it: everyone wants to do that. One downloadable mission even has Cole Phelps solving the Black Dahlia murder. Los Angeles has never looked as gritty as it was in the old days in L.A. Noire.




Mount & Blade 


Available on: PC, Steam


When it comes to medieval games in the industry, it seems one has to have at least a dragon, an elf, or magic to be popular, just like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or Dragon’s DogmaMount and Blade on the other hand, deviates from these fantasy trends and instead, depicts the so-called Dark Ages as they were more than a millennium ago. Even without the magic and the sorcery, Mount & Blade is still considered to be one of the best medieval action RPGs of all time. 


Players only have their swords, bows, and other medieval weapons for support, as they journey through the countryside of Europe, fighting battles, conquering castles, and raiding villages. Players must personally lead their men into battle in either all-out brawls or smarter strategic assaults. There's just as much medieval fun to be had out of the less fantastical elements of the period than you might think.




Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories


Available on: PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3


The popular Grand Theft Auto series isn’t a historical open-world game in a sense, but there are many titles that takes place in certain time periods, and one of them is Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories.


Like many GTA games, players take control of a down-on-his-luck protagonist, as he rises from the bottom to the top of the criminal world, filled with brawls, gunfights, and vehicle drive-bys. What sets it apart from others, however, is its satirical portrayal of 1980s America.


Audio consists of iconic pop music of the time, vintage cars can be driven, and there are a ton of cheesy 80s references from aerobics, Rambo, Phil Collins, and even "99 Red Balloons." It captures everything related to how the era is stereotypically portrayed in pop culture. Even the game’s story is heavily influenced by the 80s idea of liberty, promiscuity, and rampart drug epidemics. 


Way of the Samurai 3


Available on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Steam, iOS


In this third installment of the long-running Way of the Samurai series, Way of the Samurai 3 lets players take control of an unnamed samurai as he fights through battles and duels in Sengoku Japan. Developer Acquire did a great job in recreating the Warring States Period of Japan, a time where factions and clans wage war until whoever can finally take control of the islands.


The protagonist can be customized in terms of general appearance and clothing, as well as what type of Japanese weapon he can wield. Players can roam around the countryside, either helping people or causing mayhem with a katana or naginata. And in an era filled with treachery and betrayal, players can choose which side he wants to fight for, which can lead to different endings. 


If you're a big fan of classic jidaigeki films like Seven Samurai and historical anime like Rurouni Kenshin, then give this one a try.


With open world games set in modern day cities, cybernetic worlds, and fantasy kingdoms done to death at this point, there is no wonder that historical games such as Assassin’s Creed: Origins and Red Dead Redemption 2 are trending in the market. Not only do these games bring variety to a popular genre, but they also bring with them the chance to relive history and walk and interact with the people and events of yesteryear.


You can play as a knight, pirate, samurai, noire detective, gangster or a cowboy; ride horses and mammoths or drive vintage cars; and roam around places like the Old West, Victorian London or Nazi-occupied Paris. The choice is yours to decide, but we've put together a list of the 10 best open world games with historical settings to help get you started.

The Best and Worst: The First 10 Final Fantasy Games Tue, 05 Sep 2017 13:11:14 -0400 Josh Broadwell


Despite their varied differences, each Final Fantasy game shares important characteristics. They all tell stories -- some better than others, of course --about what it means to be human and the consequences -- good and bad -- of one's actions. Each builds on its predecessor in some form or another, as well, be it fine-tuning the ATB system, making the job system more sophisticated, or simply presenting a highly engaging plot with intriguing characters and spectacular visuals.


Regardless of which is best, there is little wonder why this series has made such an impact on the gaming world.


How would you rank the first 10 Final Fantasy games? Let us know in the comments below! 


1: Final Fantasy IV


Final Fantasy IV combines a myriad of different settings, strong characters, a unique twist on the crystal motif, and an engaging battle system to help it rise above its fellow games. The story begins rather unexpectedly, with the hero committing a horrible act for his sovereign --- which you quickly learn is one among many -- and questioning his place and identity as a result.


Cecil is probably the most interesting of all Final Fantasy heroes as a result. He starts as a villain and the consequences of his moral weakness and inability to confront his king over what he knows is wrong leads to a host of other problems for himself and everyone he comes into contact with. There's Rosa's ordeal, of course, but also Tellah and Edward's sorrow -- and even Palom and Porom's suffering that all come from Cecil. His entire journey, not just his quest to be a paladin, is one of redemption, giving a unique atmosphere to the entire game and emphasizing the importance of the choices we make.


The rest of the characters are interesting in themselves, each with a story to tell. Tellah's has to be the most poignant, though, and there are few other games that have an old, frail man successfully taking on the main antagonist -- and then *spoiler* dying because of it.


This game was also the first to feature the Active Time Battle system, forcing players to strategize differently, especially when it comes to powerful spells and summons. Character strengths are as you would expect, too, with Rosa being weaker than her companions (though vital for success), Cecil as the all-around fighter and defender, and so on.


It's not short on difficulty either. Like IX, FFIV forces you to use certain party members, but this takes place throughout the story, and at times, makes each victory seem like it was hard fought and well earned. The segments with Edward are notable for that, though also the extended period of time where your only mage is Tellah, whose MP is purposely restricted for story purposes. All in all, Final Fantasy IV provides the most variety in gameplay, along with an emotional storyline touching on the essentials of human nature, for better and worse.


2: Final Fantasy IX


If you're playing the games chronologically, Final Fantasy IX marks a return to "normalcy" of sorts for the series. With its medieval-ish locations fused with elements sci-fi, a plot based around political intrigue (at first), it would seem the ninth entry was too same-y to stand out. However, IX improves on just about everything in the series and makes it one of the best.


The plot evolves to include the themes of identity and humanity first introduced in VII, while also featuring its own lunatic with ties to the main hero. The mechanics offer a more streamlined ability system, where you learn abilities from the equipment you select; buying the best of the best every time won't always be a wise idea, since you'll miss out on some vital abilities.


The characters themselves are a definite strong point. The cast is varied, ranging from a small boy to a disgruntled princess who wants to restore her mother and the stodgy knight with a shining heart who only wishes to fulfill his duty. Final Fantasy IX restores the earlier distinctions between characters in battle as well. Garnet is as delicate as you'd expect for a white mage, while Steiner is a powerhouse, and Quina is…well, Quina. Combined with the fact that the plot frequently forces you into situations where you only have certain party members available, it makes for a much more interesting and varied experience overall.


Plus, the game has one of the most unexpected and memorable opening sequences of any video game. At times, though, it can be a bit too easy, and the ATB meter seems to move excruciatingly slow sometimes, but these are minor issues on whole.


3: Final Fantasy VII


That's right: Final Fantasy VII is not at the top of this list. Read on before you sharpen your pitchforks and fire up your torches, though.


Its glowing reputation is well-deserved, just like with Final Fantasy VI. The story is a true epic in the most genuine sense of the word, spanning a plethora of varied locations and encompassing numerous memorable characters, both just and evil. The setting is wildly different from anything that came before, but unlike Final Fantasy VIII, it's vital to the story and characterization.


Industrialization's gritty dark side is fully realized, where it was only hinted at in the previous installment, and it allows the developers to explore it in more depth -- Shinra's merciless grasp on the entire world at the expense of both people and environment, the problems that arise from experimentation without ethical guidelines, and the nature of individual identity and what it means to be human in the midst of all of this.


The cast is varied, but small enough to focus fully on each, which is vital for a story of this magnitude. Focused as it is on character, though, important members like Tifa and Barrett are ultimately rather static in comparison with Cloud, which is a shame, given the material present to work with. Additionally, as good as the story is, it is also prone to being convoluted at times, a problem plaguing some later games in the series as well.


The game continues tweaking what VI started in terms of mechanics as well, replacing Espers with Materia and erasing differences between skills and potential growth -- except with Aeris, of course. Along with limit breaks, it makes battles less of a challenge than they should be, to the point where being limited to three party members really isn't too much of a big deal.




Image via YouTube


4: Final Fantasy VI


Final Fantasy VI is often regarded as one of, if not the best, entries in the series and best RPGs of all time. It certainly has the right to be held in such high esteem. The game successfully makes the leap from a medieval setting to a more industrialized one and explores some of the problems that come along with that setting, namely exploitation and greed. 


The story -- and villain -- are top-notch, too. Kefka repeats the, "I want to be a god" theme, but combines it with his own special brand of insanity, allowing him to play the large-scale role of a villain seeking world domination and the smaller-scale, personal villain who commits atrocities for the fun of it.


The game features a large cast of memorable protagonists, and, for the first time in the series, almost erases distinctions between them. That, and the number of characters, is both a blessing and something of a curse. It makes for a unique story and gameplay experience, but the number of characters means it's difficult to explore and develop their stories as much as with a smaller cast, and the lack of unique character distinctions in battle takes a bit of the strategizing out of the experience.


5: Final Fantasy V


The series' fifth entry, Final Fantasy V, refines many elements from the earlier games and is a solid game all around. Carrying on from Final Fantasy IV, the game expands the crystal concept further by giving them a more practical purpose -- preventing the evil Exdeath from returning to power and, as all good Sauron-like sorcerers do, creating a world of darkness and fear. There's the usual amnesiac theme with Ganulf, though it too serves a story-related purpose, even if Ganulf isn't too far removed from Tellah.


The job system is one of the game's key highlights, however. It improves on Final Fantasy III in multiple ways, including introducing a new job, skills, and the ability to retain skills learned from previous jobs, which the remake of Final Fantasy III would incorporate as well. Not only does leveling up jobs provide a reason to engage in all those random battles, it also allows players a tremendous amount of freedom in crafting and shaping their party, which, in turn, allows for greater replay value as well.


The game also introduces a number of recurring themes, from mini-boss Gilgamesh to the idea of the power of the Ancients and the evils associated with meteorites that would be seen again in Final Fantasy VII. Yet for all its strengths, the characters themselves end up being less than central to the story for the most part, with Bartz, in particular, being pretty flat overall.


6: Final Fantasy X


Despite its altered visual style and setting, Final Fantasy X is often seen as the last of the original Final Fantasy games and a starting point for what the series would eventually evolve into. It retains a good bit of the earlier games' spirit, while still adding a lot of new concepts, and it does so successfully -- for the most part. The ATB is gone, with turn order determined by character speed, though that seems like a natural evolution. The setting is quite different too, including sci-fi elements like in the opening sequences alongside places of immense natural beauty, but the game pulls it off well, helped in no small part by the PS2's graphics.


The ATB is gone, with turn order determined by character speed, though that seems like a natural evolution. The setting is quite different too, including sci-fi elements like in the opening sequences alongside places of immense natural beauty.However, the game pulls it off well, helped in no small part by the PS2's graphics -- or the PS3, if you are playing the HD version.


There are also changes to the skill system that allow you to plot out how your characters will grow, which adds a good deal of customization to battle styles. The cast of characters is memorable, being a fairly intimate bunch, and the story itself takes on new themes of the role of knowledge and the nature of reality, adding on to the identity themes introduced in earlier games. 


However, this adventure is much more linear than previous Final Fantasy titles, and the biggest drawback is that half the time, you watch the game, rather than play it. It makes for a deeper story, though at the expense of the gameplay itself.


7: Final Fantasy II


Many might think it odd to rank Final Fantasy II higher than the first and third entries in the franchise. It is true that the sequel makes use of some odd mechanics, though there are several other important elements in the game that help it rank higher than other entries.


For starters, it lays the foundation for multiple recurring themes and characters, including Cid the gruff airman, the reluctant Prince Gordon, who can also be seen as a forerunner of the bard, Prince Edward from Final Fantasy IV, and Leila, who shares similarities with Final Fantasy V's Faris.


There's also the story. This was the first Final Fantasy game to place an emphasis on story, and despite being basic -- and a bit Star Wars-y -- it's not bad, focusing as it does on political intrigue and the consequences of unbridled lust for power, toying with concepts like the importance of family and forgiveness.


The inclusion of the learning feature makes the experience a relatively deeper one as well. As the characters learn more about their world and how it operates, so do the players. Admittedly, that immersion gets thrown out the window with the leveling-up mechanic, where Final Fantasy II replaces stat increases through leveling entirely, making things like attack, evasion, and spell levels increase depending on how often they are used.  


8: Final Fantasy VIII


When it was first released, many hailed Final Fantasy VIII as the best in the series to date. In itself, VIII is a good game. The developers made several changes by altering the gameplay and visual styles, and best of all, the difficulty scales -- so you're never really over-leveled like in some of the other FF games. However, there are some drawbacks that keep FFVIII from being as great as some of the others in the original set, with the main protagonist, Squall, being one of them. 


He's annoying for a good chunk of the game. He has an angsty attitude fitting the setting, but it's not endearing. It also makes it a bit difficult to fully believe his abrupt change from the "whatever" school boy to more dynamic hero later ibn FFVIII's narrative.


On top of that, the draw and junction systems are unfortunately tedious as well. The story is interesting, as is the setting.


Yet neither really contributes to the other, unlike later games in the series, such as VI and VII. The plot contains some other issues too. Time travel is difficult to implement well in most stories and almost always leaves gaps in the logic -- sorry J.K. Rowling -- but a significant issue in the game is the theme it ends up centering around as a result of the time travel. The majority of Final Fantasy games emphasize how choices shape one's actions and the world.


However, VIII is all about predetermination, where almost everyone's actions are set in stone from the outset. Combined with the fact that it's ultimately a coming-of-age story, it is much narrower in depth and scope and keeps the game's appeal and major themes from being as universal as other games in the series.


9: Final Fantasy III


Final Fantasy III is an interesting game in the series. For the majority of non-Japanese speaking Western players, the 2006 DS release was the first chance to experience the game, even though it originally appeared on the first Famicom system in 1990. There's not much to the story (with even less than its predecessor) and the remake had to (try to) expand on the main characters' backstories a fair bit in order to give them something resembling personalities. 


The overall themes in Final Fantasy III are very similar to those of the first game. Although they add a few additional quirky elements like shrinking down to save a tiny village, they also introduced an important concept that would be repeated throughout several later games: the main antagonist's wish to be an immortal deity.


What stands out the most about this entry in the series is its battle system. Final Fantasy III has a much-expanded job system compared to the series' first entry, including well-known classes like the Sage and the Ninja (though in later iterations it's mostly found in spinoffs like Final Fantasy Tactics). Overall, it makes for a much deeper experience, which helps compensate for the fact that there isn't much else in terms of depth on offer here.


10: Final Fantasy


It's difficult to place the game that started it all low on this list. There's quite a bit that Final Fantasy does right, make no mistake. The setting is pure high fantasy, and the story is too -- at least, what exists of it. Along with Dragon Quest, the original FF pretty much ensured RPGs would go hand in hand with medieval, European-type settings for years to come. The battle and job systems set the tone for countless RPGs to follow as well, and despite being linear in nature, the game still provides players with a good deal of freedom to explore its world, unlike the much maligned Final Fantasy XIII.


Apart from being the first in so many ways, these systems still hold up and make for a good game today, -- particularly if you happen to be playing the GBA version of FF, with its more streamlined magic system. It's only natural, though, that later games in the series would improve on what this one started, including the themes of justice and lust for power, the crystal motifs, and job classes. Still, the original Final Fantasy provides an enjoyable experience, even if it is bare bones.




Image via Wikipedia


Final Fantasy is one of the most iconic franchises in gaming, and with good reason. It provided the foundation for numerous RPGs to follow. From characters and plot to setting and battle mechanics, Final Fantasy laid the groundwork for a generation of role playing games.


For many of us, a Final Fantasy game was (is) an integral part of our nascent gaming years. Like a good book, these games remind us of what and who we were when we last encountered them and who we are today -- and there is often something new to discover every time we revisit those worlds. 


The first 10 Final Fantasy games are typically considered the series' best. Each game seemed to evolve into something new while retaining much of what came before it, providing unique, yet nostalgic gameplay experiences with each iteration. However, that does not mean each FF game is created equally. Some lack dynamic characterization, where others skimp on story -- and some try to include too much new all at once. Still, even the lowest ranked in such a list possesses at least one significant strength --not something that can be said for many games or franchises.


But for this list, we decided to highlight plot, characterization, and gameplay mechanics as the main means of evaluating how each game stacks up compared to its peers. With that in mind, number 10 on the list probably won't be much of a surprise...

Face It: Persona 4 Is the Worst of the Trilogy Fri, 01 Sep 2017 11:45:49 -0400 Selandrile

Atlus's Persona series is among the most beloved franchises of all time. Well-known and with no shortage of fans, Persona games are almost a genre unto themselves. A very specific and successful formula is rigorously adhered to: live the life of a Japanese high schooler whilst battling representations of unconscious human thought during your free time.

As with any series, some entries in the Persona franchise have been better than others. And though different fans have different opinions about which one is best, Persona 5 is definitely a front-runner for that title. But which Persona game is the worst of the series? I'd have to say Persona 4.

The Beginning of Persona

Persona 1 and 2 are so removed from the last three main series games that they were not even born in this millennium. They are so different, in fact, that I personally don't consider them as really being part of the same series as the others. It would be like comparing games from different genres.

The PlayStation 2 saw the rebirth of the franchise with Persona 3 -- a game which would come to define what a Persona title was supposed to be. Simulating what it means to be a teenager, Persona 3 has the player balance their high school life, friendships, and story-related drama all within a set amount of time. Take too long, and it's game over. Waste time or be inefficient, and expect to miss out on content and be weaker for it.

While sometimes brutal, the time-management and life/story balance were monumental in the Persona series' game design. In fact, these elements proved so popular they continue to form the core of the series to this day. The latest in the series, Persona 5, has become a global phenomenon -- catapulting the Persona series from somewhat-niche into mainstream acceptance. This near-perfect game refined what worked, removed what didn't, and introduced new, exciting elements that both fit and enhanced the entire experience.

So when you consider these factors, what makes its immediate predecessor, Persona 4, the weak link in the chain? 

The Weakest Link

With Persona 3 being so groundbreaking and Persona 5 being so excellent, only Persona 4 remains -- making it the worst of the series. It's important to note that "worst of the Persona series" is hardly an insult. Even 4, with its many problems, is an excellent game in its own right. But I believe it's the true weak link for mainly one reason.

It cannot be denied Persona 4 took the successful formula of 3, yet completely abandoned its tone. Persona 3 remains among the darkest of games I have ever played 00 topped only by a few BioWare and FromSoftware titles. The dark visuals, suffocating atmosphere, and apocalyptic plot all contributed to Persona 3 being such a unique and wonderful experience. In this third iteration, the player witnesses an hour of time frozen where humans transform into coffins, tempted to emerge to their deaths. Each midnight, this horror unfolds. Blood rains from the sky and the city twists into a monstrosity reaching for the sky. And it's hard to forget that ending -- perhaps the most bleak of any game ever. The central theme of Death is quite apparent.

Persona 5, the newest title, is also dark and quite possibly the most mature of the franchise. Clearly 5 was made with an older audience in mind, as there is an abundance of swearing, criminal, and controversial elements, as well as complex psychological themes.

Characters each have their own lives, all filled with very real-world problems. Women are held back by an oppressive traditional society. Outcasts are shuttered away, never to be acknowledged. And everywhere the game's central theme, Betrayal, permeates. Authority figures abuse their power for their own gain and the strong feed off the weak. If you remove the supernatural elements Persona 5 would play more like a real-world documentary of the worst parts of our society.

Persona 4 stands in contrast to these, as it's sort of built on fluff. That's really how the game feels -- like light-hearted fluff. It's a bit contradictory when you consider 4's main plot is about finding a murderer. Any seriousness brought by the plot is utterly ruined by the presentation. Light comedy lurks around every corner. Characters bumble through their lives with wacky issues that need solving. Very rarely do serious elements get addressed -- and when they do, it's hardly an accomplishment.

One pertinent example is Kanji -- the thug whose sensitive and caring side is held back by society's need for men to be traditionally masculine. This is a wonderful character premise, but the game Kanji's characteristics as a lead-in to a "joke" about him being gay. It ruins the spirit of the message.

Bitter Beginnings and Dull Combat

Perhaps one of the most telling aspects of Persona 4 are the protagonist's backgrounds.

In Persona 5, the sharp and snazzy Joker is the victim of an enormous injustice. Framed for assault after stopping a man from attempting to sexually assault a woman, Joker's life is destroyed and he is forced to leave the region for one last hope at education.

Persona 3 has its blue-haired protagonist witness his parents burn to death in front of him -- forever traumatizing him and desensitizing him so much to death that he almost welcomes it.

But in contrast to these rich stories, Persona 4's blandly-drawn hero moves to the countryside to live with his normal uncle and niece because his parents are working overseas. And....that's it. Keep in mind this tonal difference is before the game even starts -- and nothing ever happens in the plot to complicate this premise or bring the game in line tonally with others in the series. 

This trend carries over into nearly every facet. Persona 4's characters in general seem weaker than the rest of the series. Contrast 3's Misato to 4's Teddy and 5's Morgana. Only one is a bundle of slapstick chibi humor.

The main plot is hardly as engaging or deep, either. Discover the mysteries of the midnight hour and the horrors within Persona 3. Fight society's corruption by forcing criminals in positions of power to admit their own crimes while working to rebuild your shattered life and explore another world in Persona 5. Or finally investigate who is throwing some people into a TV in Persona 4. When you hold these plots up against each other, the comparisons speak for themselves. 

As if that's not enough, combat in Persona 4 is a literal copy of its predecessor with no improvements. You'll see the same randomized levels, the same enemy types, the same attacks, the same "weapons", etc. While you could finally choose your party member's attacks, it never was as important as the desperate flailing to hit the enemy first before battle.

And I swear, if I ever have to hear Persona 4's battle music again I may self-induce deafness. It's chirpy, joyous, pop-esque battle theme really hammers home that this is a lighter game.

I admit that enjoyment is subjective, and there are those that do not want a dark Persona game. If that's the case for you, then 4 is the only game that you've probably enjoyed because the Persona series is by its nature a dark, dark series.

I don't have anything but respect for those that enjoy lighter games. Gaming should always strive to be more inclusive, because a larger audience means a healthier industry and more quality products. 

Persona 4 diverged from the usual Persona path and 5 pulled it back on. But during that detour, it was still a great experience. That's why I'm happy to say that while Persona 4 may be the worst in the series, it's still very good indeed.

What's In A Name? How Digimon Story Stole the Digimon World Name for Western Audiences Tue, 08 Aug 2017 16:05:37 -0400 Erroll Maas

Digimon, short for Digital Monsters, started as a spin-off of Bandai's Tamagotchi virtual pet toys. But the franchise took on a life of its own -- spawning multiple anime series, a handful of movies, video games, toys, and even several different card games.

The first and perhaps most well-known of the Digimon video games is the Digimon World series, originally developed for the Sony PlayStation. While most players in the West might assume that the majority of Digimon games are part of the World series, this isn't actually true. In fact, many of the games that the West knows to be part of Digimon World's lineup are actually other series that were simply published for Western audiences under the Digimon World name. 

Some western fans still don't realize that Digimon World and Digimon Story are two separate series -- so let's try to clear up some of the confusion by looking at the perplexing history of the Digimon World series in the West and why they took the different monikers they did. 

Four Very Different Games

The first four Digimon World games -- which are all under the Digimon World name worldwide -- all have distinct differences from each other. Though they keep certain gameplay features intact, there's a lot of variation in the experiences between them. So it's sort of intriguing that they all share a series name. It's difficult to determine whether the distinction between these World games was due to experimentation with different gameplay formulas, an effort to create or coincide with other Digimon trends, or a combination of both. 

The original Digimon World, released in 2000 for America, tried to capitalize on the success of the franchise's toys and anime series. The gameplay revolved around raising a single Digimon from egg form, then engaging it in battles in order to evolve its forms. The forms a player's Digimon would evolve into depended on how it was raised -- closely following the caretaking of the original virtual pets that spawned this game. Paying attention to your Digimon was the central aspect of gameplay in this entry, as players needed to feed, rest, and otherwise tend to their pocket companion.

Oddly enough, Digimon World 2, 3, and 4 abandoned this style of gameplay, and fans didn't see it again until Digimon World Championship released in 2008.

New Digivolution in Digimon World 2

When it was released for North America in 2001, Digimon World 2 was the first game in the series to launch after the anime began airing. With gameplay that was vastly different than its predecessor, the player's initial experience felt rather similar to Pokémon or Monster Rancher, both of which had their first sequels released just a year earlier. 

Digimon World 2's gameplay saw the player exploring dungeons with a team of up to three Digimon. They could still evolve and be trained, but no longer needed to be rested, fed, or taken to the bathroom like the original game. The exploration and combat encounters took center stage here, rather than the more nurturing aspect that Digimon World relied heavily on.

This sequel also added a new digivolution concept known as DNA Digivolution, which allowed the player to combine two Digimon into one -- but the resulting Digimon would be one level lower than its parents. This also allowed the resulting Digimon to level up further than either of its parents. 

Digimon World 3 Makes Digivolution Temporary

The next entry in the series kept the DNA digivolution element, but changed pretty much everything else about the formula once again. 

Oddly enough, this game released in North America first in 2002, then came to Japan and Europe later that year. Unlike the first two games, this third entry in the series was more of a traditional RPG that took place in an MMORPG in which the players and other friends could get trapped (a popular concept at the time, as evidenced by the Bandai-published title .hack). Though the player still had three Digimon partners, battles were fought one-on-one, and creatures could be switched out, much like a Pokémon game. 

Digimon World 3 was the first in the series to feature random encounters as opposed to running into Digimon on the map. Although normal digivolution and DNA digivolution were still included in the game, the way these systems worked was changed once again so that each Digimon was allowed to bring three forms into battle. 

It was also the last Digimon World entry to appear on the original PlayStation. 

Digimon World 4 Ditches the Turn-Based RPG Formula

The successor to Digimon World 3 was a considerable departure from the gameplay of any past games in the series. Digimon World 4 was released worldwide in 2005 for the PS2, GameCube, and Xbox. It was based on the Digimon X-Evolution animated movie -- and even went so far as to reuse a few scenes from the film. 

Instead of being a monster-raising RPG like its predecessors, Digimon World 4 was a four-player co-op hack-and-slash adventure where players took the role of certain Digimon. These playable Digimon used weapons and elemental magic rather than the special attacks fans were familiar with, and could gain a digivolution after meeting certain requirements. 

In spite of its name implying that it's another entry in the main series of games, Digimon World 4 is actually a spin-off rather than a true numbered successor. The stark departure in gameplay was a shock to Western fans who were totally unaware of the Digimon X Evolution film at the time of the game's release.

So What's With The Shared Names?

If these Digimon World games were all so different, wouldn't they have warranted different names? Perhaps so, but Bandai didn't seem to think so. 

Carrying the World name across these four distinct entries might have been an effort to keep fans flocking to a more familiar name in spite of each game not being a true sequel to its predecessors. This sort of decision isn't unprecedented -- and is similar to what we've seen in series like Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest. So this may have been Bandai's justification for putting a few more titles under the same name in the West, despite prodigious differences between each game. 


More Confusion for the West

Though some Western players were jarred by the starkly different gameplay of the Digimon 4 spinoff/main series entry, but the real confusion began when the Digimon Story series began in Japan. 

If you look at the covers pictured above, you might think that you're looking at two different games that share a franchise name. But in fact, besides the language of each one, these games are exactly the same title published under totally different series names in different regions.

Released for Japan in 2006 on Nintendo DS, Digimon Story was published under the Digimon World name in the West, despite being part of a separate series.

Dubbed Digimon World DS, this game took a more Pokémon-like approach to its gameplay, while also implementing some unique elements. Players controlled a team of three Digimon -- similar to Digimon World 2 and 3 -- with three more as backup. Battles were either three-on-three encounters, or three-on-one for certain bosses. New Digimon could be obtained by battling them repeatedly until their data was 100% scanned. The game featured over 230 Digimon to discover, and those not in use could be stored in Digi-Farms (similar to the PC in Pokémon games). These Digimon could only evolve by collecting experience from defeating certain species of Digimon, achieving a certain aptitude level, or increasing friendship.

At the time of its release, Digimon World DS was praised as one of the best games in the Digimon World series -- even though it was technically part of another series entirely. Either way, it marked a true return of Digimon RPGs in the West.

The West Gets A Game Based on an Anime Series

The second game to adopt the Digimon World name in the West was Digimon World Data Squad, released in 2007 for PS2. Known as a spinoff called Digimon Savers: Another Episode in Japan, this game was based on the Digimon Data Squad anime series. 

This was the first Digimon game to feature English dubbed voice acting, and the only Digimon game to feature cel-shaded graphics. Digivolution in this title shared some similarities with the first true Digimon World game, as the form into which a Digimon would evolved was affected by how the player took care of it. But it also introduced a new method of digivolution known as the Galactica Evolution System -- which determined what Digimon the player's partner would digivolve into. 

Though this game is not an actual part of the Digimon World series, it's almost understandable that it would borrow the World name for the West, since the anime series didn't air in those regions until around a month later. As such, Digimon World Data Squad was able to continue the fandom around the World series, while also making Western fans aware of the new anime series. 

A Double Dose of DS Digimon

Several years after the release of the original Digimon World DS, a two-version sequel -- Digmon World Dawn and Dusk -- hit DS consoles in the West. However, this was part of the Story series in Japan, dubbed Digimon Story Sunburst and Moonlight. This entry in the franchise introduced several new Digimon, finished out previously incomplete or mixed-up digivolution lines, and reintroduced the DNA digivolution popularized by Digimon World 2 and 3

Because it was a sequel to Digimon World DS, it obviously would have been a mistake not to use the Digimon World name. Unaware Western fans probably would have been confused by the sudden title change, especially given the similarities between these sequels and their predecessors. 

These two DS games were the next-to-last Digimon games to release in the West before a long hiatus -- and they were the last Digimon Story games (though they didn't go by that name) that saw a Western release until 2016.

The End of an Era

The last game to release under the Digimon World moniker for Western audiences was Digimon World Championship. Known solely as Digimon Championship in Japan, this title was a bit closer in gameplay to the original game that spawned the Digimon World name. 

In battle, Digimon chose which attacks they used instead of being told. The game also introduced several new Digimon with the Dracomon digivolution line. 

But due to its departure from the gameplay of the two previous Nintendo DS games, Digimon World Championship saw relatively poor reception -- so maybe relying on the World name wasn't such a great choice in this case. 

Either way, Digimon World Championship was the last Digimon-raising game the West would see for many years -- and it was the very last Digimon game to ever receive a Digimon World name change for Western audiences.

The Names in the West Are Finally Fixed

Though the West saw a few Digimon games here and there after the sub-par release of Digimon World Championship -- like the Digimon All-Star Rumble fighting game or the Digimon Heroes! match-3 mobile game -- there were no other Digimon RPGs released until 2016's Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth for PS4 and PS Vita. 

This was the first game in the Digimon Story series that didn't get a name change to Digimon World for Western audiences, and it was also the first one to see a release on both handheld and home consoles. Cyber Sleuth borrowed from and built upon many of the gameplay elements from Digimon World DS and its sequels, Digimon World Dawn and Dusk. 

2017 saw the release of yet another Digmon World game, called Digimon World: Next Order. This was a true sequel to the original Digimon World series -- so much so that it kept the World name worldwide. The game provided a modern update to the playstyle and mechanics introduced in the original games that started the series, though this time with two Digimon partners instead of one.

At the time of writing, it's unclear whether there will be another Digimon World game. But another entry in the Story series -- dubbed Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Hacker's Memory -- is slated for release on PlayStation 4 and PS Vita in Japan on December 14, 2017. It will make its way to the West sometime in 2018. 

Either way, with the release of Digimon World: Next Order and Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth, it seems like Western names for this popular series have finally caught up to their Japanese counterparts. But only time will tell if the trend will continue. 

5 Final Fantasy Games Perfect for Newcomers Mon, 24 Jul 2017 13:11:23 -0400 Will Dowell

Final Fantasy is one of the largest JRPG franchises in the history of the genre, with countless spin-off's, sequels, and remakes making up its robust catalog. These games have brought both laughter and tears to an audience of millions over the years.

With Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age out on shelves, those interested in trying a Final Fantasy game may feel overwhelmed due to the sheer amount of possible entries in the series. Luckily, these five Final Fantasy games are perfect for newcomers.

Final Fantasy XV

The latest game in the mainline series, Final Fantasy XV eschews the Active Time Battle System (ATB) present in most Final Fantasy games and instead wows players with intense, real-time action. While the focus on intense action may turn off lifelong fans, those wary of turn-based combat will have a blast fighting their way through the world of Eos.

Even with the combat changes, Final Fantasy XV is, at heart, a Final Fantasy game. Following Noctis throughout a tale of adventure and war provides the emotional stakes seen in any Final Fantasy game -- all with added Blockbuster flair. An open world aids this adventure by imbuing the game with the sense of grandiosity needed for an adventure like this. While it's the latest entry in the FF series, Final Fantasy XV is perfect for the action-loving newcomer.

Final Fantasy VI

For those who enjoy turn-based combat, the SNES classic Final Fantasy VI will satisfy your tastes in addition to providing a fantastic cast of characters. The ATB combat system shines in its full glory as you fight to achieve peace in a chaotic world. Esper customization increases the strategic depth of FFVI, allowing you to create the perfect battle party.

However, all of the gameplay is overshadowed (in a good way) by the endearing characters as they grow in a fantastical world. From Locke, the protective treasure hunter with a bit of wit, to Shadow, an assassin with a mysterious past, these adventurers must struggle and overcome their personal obstacles to save the world from a maniacal villain.

Final Fantasy VI ties these powerful elements together with a tale full of both lighthearted adventure and dark drama. Final Fantasy VI is one of the best Final Fantasy games of all time and shows newcomers the best of what Final Fantasy has to offer.

Final Fantasy IX

While Final Fantasy VII revolutionized the JRPG genre, its flaws make it a harder introduction to those unfamiliar with Final Fantasy. It has aged harshly and poor translation diminishes the plot. However, Final Fantasy IX serves as a fantastic introduction to the series, even though it wasn't as groundbreaking as FFVII.

Final Fantasy IX exudes the traditional Final Fantasy charm while providing the extravagance seen on only a handful of PlayStation adventures. Yes, the combat can be slow, but with the ability to plan how your characters learn and grow, each victory brings its own rewards. There is a lightheartedness seen throughout the game that brings joy and adventure in a way not seen in many games today. Characters live through and bring excitement to both the story and the player. Enjoy the world and characters, as you fly through Final Fantasy IX.

Final Fantasy Tactics

Unlike the mainline series, which usually has a consistent level of quality, the Final Fantasy spin-off's vary wildly. From horrible cash-grabs to amazing titles, there's a lot of varying quality to be had here. Luckily, Final Fantasy Tactics is a fantastic strategy RPG that rivals the greats. Survive in a world torn apart by war and corruption, with both allies and enemies manipulating and killing each other to pursue their own goals. Watch as close friends become hated enemies, and families turn against each other. While not as overly dark as some games, Final Fantasy Tactics has a harsh world with everyone, both good and evil, struggling and suffering.

This weight is seen in the combat as well, with the possibility of each move being your last. Enemies are challenging and brutal, forcing the player to prioritize and think strategically as they handle each mission. Sadly, grinding is required to unlock classes and gain an edge in combat. Yet that grinding leads to new and interesting strategies as the player customizes their party for battle.

Final Fantasy Tactics rivals the mainline series in terms of quality and gives a darker edge to the standard fantasy world.

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac may seem like an odd choice, but with it out on shelves now, it is a fantastic entry point for newcomers. Follow Vaan, a petty thief way over his head, as he aids Princess Ashe in freeing Dalmasca from the Archadian Empire. While Vaan himself seems one dimensional, the people around him are entertaining and interesting. May it be the leading man or the falsely accused, every character in Final Fantasy XII has a story. Engage in epic boss battles with combat that blends the strategy traditional ATB System and the fluidity of MMO combat with the use of Gambits.

The major issues that plagued the original PS2 release of FFXII have been alleviated in the remaster. For example, grinding and backtracking padded out areas and wasted the players time, but with the added ability to speed up game time, long grinding sessions become quick and painless. The Zodiac Job System, an addition seen in the international release, but not in the North American one, gives players structure to their character progression and gives each party member a purpose. With the major flaws of Final Fantasy XII mitigated, it becomes a must-play for both newcomers and fans of Final Fantasy.


Final Fantasy is a fantastic series that has revolutionized both RPG's and gaming as whole. With Final Fantasy XIV going strong and a remake of Final Fantasy VII in the works, Final Fantasy will touch the hearts and minds of gamers everywhere. As long as new entries capture newcomers like the games above can, Final Fantasy will thrive. 

3 Reasons Why You Should Be Excited for Monster Hunter: World Sun, 02 Jul 2017 10:02:29 -0400 StraightEdge434


With so many new gameplay mechanics, cross-play, and a return to more powerful consoles, Monster Hunter: World promises to be an extremely unique and one-of-a-kind entry in the franchise. The game is set to release in early 2018, so there is still plenty of time to expose yourself to the series and the community as well (if you are a newcomer). If you are a veteran, you can just start getting excited for a whole new and intriguing hunting experience!


What are some of the things that you are most excited about in Monster Hunter: World? Would you like to see previous mechanics return, or whole new features? Let us know down in the comments!


Overhauled Game Mechanics


Monster Hunter: World will be receiving quite a number of new gameplay mechanics and overhauls. One main example that was shown in the trailer is the ability to shoot a flare, thus sending an SOS signal of some kind and having fellow hunters to come to the rescue and aid you in the hunt at any point.


Another mechanic that was shown in the trailer is the ability to disguise oneself using camouflage outfits, and using that to either hide from monsters or attract them to you.


One final mechanic that stood out the most is how all the areas of the map will be connected with one another and there won't be loading screens when making your way from one area to another. As a result of that, the entire map will feel like one giant area rather than multiple smaller areas separated by loading screens.


Though these are completely new additions to the game, that doesn't necessarily mean that the game will become much easier -- especially for newcomers and Western players. Game director, Kaname Fujioka, had the following to say about Monster Hunter: World and some of its overhauled gameplay:


"We're not taking things that people in the West hate and fixing them to make Western players buy it. People sometimes make that assumption, or they've got that fear, but that's not the case at all."


Though it may seem like a spinoff title, Monster Hunter: World will actually be the next installment in the main series, and will offer the same type of challenges as the games before it. So there is nothing to really fear -- only to look forward to!


Multiple Consoles, Including PC


Monster Hunter's true home is the PlayStation, since the first Monster Hunter titles were released for PlayStation 2 and the PSP. When Monster Hunter: World was shown at Sony's E3 conference, it was a safe assumption that the franchise would finally be returning to its true home, plus making a debut on Xbox and PC. 


This is yet another piece of awesome news, because past Monster Hunter titles of this generation were exclusive to Nintendo devices, particularly the 3DS family system. It is no secret that Nintendo's hardware is less powerful than Sony's and Microsoft's, which would explain why Monster Hunter titles on Nintendo systems didn't have the best graphics and resolution. 



Monster Hunter: Generations on 3DS


By releasing the next Monster Hunter installment on more powerful consoles, we finally get the opportunity to see the game performing at maximum capacity. Better graphics, better resolution, and a higher framerate (most likely higher on PC) are everything that true Monster Hunter fans have wanted. 


The game's release also marks the very first debut of a Monster Hunter title on PC. That is even better news for PC gamers, because PC games perform better than console games -- meaning that the textures, FPS, and graphics will be vastly improved. 


Release and Cross-Region Play


Monster Hunter: World's announcement dropped two very significant bombs. First, the game would release internationally and at the same time for all regions. That in and of itself is a very big deal, since that never happened before. Monster Hunter's home country is Japan, which means that Japan usually gets all the titles first, and the West trails a few months behind. So in a sense, Japan has an advantage in terms of experience and getting to play the game.


But by releasing at the same time for the West and Japan, players in both regions get an equal start and an even playing field -- so that way, no region will have any sort of advantage over the other region.


The second (and perhaps more exciting) reveal was the fact that Monster Hunter: World will be the very first title in the series to have cross-region play. That is absolutely phenomenal news -- because with past titles, the games were region locked, meaning that Japanese players could only hunt with other Japanese players, and Western players could only hunt with Western players.


With Monster Hunter: World's release, Western players will finally get the opportunity to hunt together with Japanese players, and vice versa. It's an exciting opportunity to meet new hunters, discuss the game, and learn something from the experts -- after all, Monster Hunter is way more popular in Japan than it is in the West, and Japanese players have access to more Monster Hunter titles than Western players.  


It is however, worth noting that Japan has more PlayStation owners than Xbox owners, since the PlayStation is Japan's native console and thus is more popular than the Xbox. As a result of that, the game will launch exclusively for the PlayStation 4 in Japan, meaning that the Xbox version will not have a release over there. 


When Monster Hunter: World was announced at Sony's E3 conference, many gamers -- especially Monster Hunter veterans -- were struck with the good news that the franchise would be making its way back to consoles. Even the Japanese trailer was well-received, considering that Japan has a trend of preferring handheld consoles to home consoles. 


The announcement of Monster Hunter: World is a big deal, and it promises to be a unique experience in the series. So let's look at why this title is so important to the Monster Hunter franchise, and why both veterans and newbies alike have something exciting to look forward to in early 2018 when the game releases. 

6 Games We Want to See Turned Into Fighters Wed, 21 Jun 2017 12:13:58 -0400 stratataisen




Let’s finish up with a knockout, shall we?


Fighting games have been around for a long while because they’re fun and satisfying to play. The gaming industry has given us, the players, a wide variety of games in the genre, both original and those adapted from other series. So, it’s not a stretch of the imagination that the series that were listed here could one day have a fighting game of their own.


That wraps up our list of games that should have fighters of their own! What other games do you think would make an excellent fighter? Let us know in the comments below!




Going with another Konami title, the Suikoden series has covered a few genres already, including RPG and turn-based strategy, so adding a fighting game to its list of genres would be no big deal. Each game in the series boasts 108 characters (108 Stars of Destiny), so there would be plenty characters to choose from. And that's not to mention the developer could use the runes from the original games to augment move sets, further enhancing the game and its fighting styles.


Metal Gear Solid


With the Metal Gear Solid's wide variety of characters, this Metal Gear fighting game could easily play host to an amazing roster of fighters for the player to choose from. Including the many different versions of Snake, Quite, Raiden, and Psycho Mantis would be awesome. Just remember you’ll have to plug your controller into the other controller port if you’re fighting Psycho Mantis in single-player mode!




A fighter in the Borderlands universe would be interesting. I could see 2K throwing out the guns (for the most part) and making this game based more on bouts like bar fights. Brick and Hammerlock would approve the use of fisticuffs over firepower.


Of course, abilities like siren powers, swords, and Deathtrap would be taken into consideration when it comes to combos. And you know what? Maybe a few hidden guns; this is Pandora after all.


Warriors Orochi


The Warriors Orochi games are a mashup of Koei’s two hack-n-slash franchises, Dynasty Warriors, and Samurai Warriors. The series already has some roots in the fighting game genre: the first Dynasty Warriors was a fighting game before the series veered into the hack-n-slash genre with subsequent games. Since the Warriors’ games already make use of combos for massive attacks, the series could easily transition back into the fighting genre where the heroes of old face off in duels to the death.


BioWare Brawler


Much like Blizzard, BioWare has a wide variety of games from which to pull characters for a mash-up fighting game. Of course, characters from their Dragon Age and Mass Effect series would grace the roster, but so would characters like Wu the Lotus and Sky from Jade Empire, as well as Revan and Bastila Shan from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Just imagine the epic battle between Shepard and Revan, fighting in the halls of the Citadel or on the plains of Dantooine.


Heroes of the Storm


With the success of Blizzard's MOBA Heroes of the Storm, it almost makes sense for the developer to have a go at a fighting game. In fact, it could be an extension of the HotS MOBA, where the same characters go toe to toe in a 1v1 arena. Heroes of the Storm: Brawler Arena or HotS: Pit Fighter, anyone? The nice thing here is that there are enough characters in HotS for everyone to find the right character to fit their playstyles.


Fighting games have been around for more than a four decades, spawning great original series such as Mortal Kombat, Tekken, King of Fighters, and Soul Caliber. While each of those franchises had its own unique style and combat system, every title within those franchises had truly hard-hitting attacks, those that left you satisfied when you managed to land one, especially in a difficult combo.


However, original fighting games aren’t the only things to come from this gaming subgenre. Games based upon other series and franchises, like Marvel vs Capcom and DC’s Injustice, have become just a popular in the scene. But are there other franchises that could be turned into fighters?


With that questions in mind, here are six games we’d like to see turned into fighters.

Fighting Game Terms: A Glossary for New Players Sun, 04 Jun 2017 14:14:57 -0400 Thomas Wilde

We're currently undergoing a low-key fighting game renaissance. Last year's Street Fighter V finals at Evolution were shown on ESPN 2 for the first time, SNK made a triumphant return with The King of Fighters XIV, and Guilty Gear is still going strong. On top of that, Injustice 2 has released to rave reviews, Mortal Kombat X was the best-selling game of its franchise, Tekken 7 has finally come out for consoles, and we've still got Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite on the horizon.

There are more people trying to get into fighting games than ever before, but like any genre, fighting games have their own specialized slang. You may have noticed it yourself; if you try to read a subreddit or forum thread about a game you're interested in, it can be like fighting-game fans are speaking an entirely different language.

This is intended as a guide for beginners as a way to get a handle on some of the common terms used by the fighting game community (FGC). Even a relatively simple modern fighting game can be complicated for a newcomer, and that's bad enough without also having to pull out a decoder ring to figure out what your fellow players are saying. 

FGC Notation

Here's where the first problem usually kicks in. Click on a link for a fighting game you're interested in, and here's something that they might list as "basic":

j.S -> st. M -> st. H -> b, d, db + L -> j. M -> j. M -> j. S -> st. M -> st. H -> DP + H

That's an ostensibly beginner-level combo for Spider-Man in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. (There are a lot of hits in it. UMVC3 is just that kind of game.) If you're coming at the game cold, it looks like gibberish.

Every fighting game typically has its own unique button scheme. There may be a crossover between franchises from a single publisher, too; for example, Street Fighter and DarkStalkers both use the same six-button layout, although their mechanics differ. In general, however, each game will have its own style of notation, the most basic of which starts from the joystick:

b - back
f - forward
d - down
u - up

Naturally, "back" and "forward" are always relative to your character, who will almost always be facing your opponent.

Combinations of these notations are used to indicate diagonals, so, for example, d/f is down and towards the opponent.

To make things a bit more confusing, some Japanese players will use numbers here instead, which dates back to old-school BBS days. To translate, look at the number pad on a standard computer keyboard. The numbers correspond to the joystick direction. For example, 1 is down/back, 2 is down, and 3 is down/forward. Let's just stick to Western notations for now.

j. -- jumping
sj. -- super-jumping, where applicable
cr. -- crouching
st. -- standing; neutral position
XX -- often used to indicate canceling one move into the next

If there's nothing at all in front of a button, you can comfortably assume that it means a standing or neutral move.

Individual buttons will differ widely enough between games that we'd be here all day if we tried to discuss them all specifically. Fortunately, this is one of the easiest things to figure out if you've got the game in front of you, although you'll still run into an occasional naming convention among different online fans. Still, you'll have to go game by game on this one.

Basic Fighting Game Terms

We should probably start with these, as they're the heart of most fighting games' systems.


There's some form of resource meter built into most modern fighting games. Typically, this meter fills up gradually when you get hit or land a hit, and is spent on using super moves, enhanced special attacks, or other useful mechanics.

This may seem obvious -- after all, the meter's right there in the UI, it's generally always in the same place from game to game, and some kind of gradually-building resource has been a regular fighting game mechanic for almost twenty years -- but this is meant as a list for beginners, after all, and meter management is a huge part of any fighting game it's in.

This goes doubly for games like Street Fighter V, where there's more than one similar resource to keep track of, or Mortal Kombat X, where your X-ray, EX moves, and breaker all run off the same meter.

EX Move

This is a mechanic where you can opt to spend some super meter when you use a special move in order to enhance that move in some predetermined way. This may mean it does more damage, hits another couple of times, or has some additional tactical utility. For example, Johnny Cage in Mortal Kombat X can spend some of his meter on his energy ball in order to throw two of them at once.

This is also known as "meter-burning" or as an enhanced move, but fans often call this sort of thing an EX Move, after its name in the DarkStalkers and Street Fighter franchises.

Ryu's EX Hadoken in SFIV hits twice.

Normal Move

These are the most basic attacks you can do. Normals are what come out when you push a punch or kick button while standing, jumping, or crouching.

A "command normal" requires you to use simple joystick commands in conjunction with an attack button. These aren't typically as elaborate as special moves but do give you some extra options.

Special move

These moves are more complicated trademark attacks of a character, which are performed with the combination of a joystick motion and an attack button. These are your fireballs, teleports, fancy throws, and special punches or kicks. They form the spine of your character's strategy.


It often has a more spectacular official name, such as a Desperation, a Super Art, or an Overdrive, but they all mean the same thing. A super move is a damaging, often multi-hit attack that costs a substantial amount of meter to perform. In games that include supers, they are often where much of your damage ends up coming from.

Slightly Less Basic Terms

This is by no means exhaustive; a full list of all the slang in the FGC would be enough for a short book, and it would likely be out of date within a few days to a week depending on when Yipes next goes on stream. It also tries to shy away from terms that are overly specific to one game or one community.


A common term in the community for a particular subgenre of well-animated, often insane Japanese fighting games, such as Guilty Gear, BlazBlue, and Persona 4: Arena. Also known as anime fighters or anime games.


In team-focused games, this is the last character in your team order, and thus, the one who you're going to fall back on when you're about to lose the match. Less frequently, it's also used as an adjective to refer to the last character standing on a player's team ("anchor Vergil").

When choosing a team, it's generally a good idea that your anchor is a character that A.) you're good with, and B.) has particular abilities that scale well with whatever comeback mechanics are built into the game. In King of Fighters XIV, your anchor should be a fighter who benefits from higher meter capacity, like Robert; in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, anyone can be a decent anchor, but the best are characters who are already fast and mobile, so they turn into absolute nightmares when you activate X-Factor.


An attack that is either intended or which is used to counter an incoming attack from above, such as a jump-kick. Ryu's and Ken's Shoryuken is the most well-known example.


A passive ability that allows a character to ignore the impact of one or more incoming hits. Armor allows you to go straight through an enemy attack in order to connect one of your own. You'll still take the damage from it, but your character won't flinch.

Armor may be a passive ability that a character possesses (Juggernaut in Marvel Super Heroes) or applied temporarily by certain special moves (enhanced special attacks in Mortal Kombat X). If a character can ignore more than one hit before flinching, that's sometimes called super armor; if a character simply will not react at all when struck, regardless of how often they're hit (Hsien-Ko's gold mode in Marvel vs. Capcom 3), that's sometimes referred to as hyper armor.

Enhanced moves in MKX often get a single hit of armor.

Some older games have a similar mechanic, auto-guard, where an enemy attack that connects during a given special move is treated as though it was blocked.


This refers to a character that's good at generating resources, like super meter, but who doesn't necessarily need to spend them to be effective. Their role on a team is to build those resources so another character can use them.

In team-based games like King of Fighters, it's helpful to have a battery character in the first or second spot on your team, as if that character gets knocked out, it positions your next character to come in with plenty of available meter.

Beam super

A generalized term for any super attack that takes the form of a giant, screen-filling projectile of some kind.

Bread and Butter Combo

A simple combo that a character will use all the time. Like the name suggests, it's basic stuff, and part of picking up a new character involves mastering or coming up with some bread and butter combos. Often abbreviated as B&B or BnB.


The split-second following a successful block in which a character is stuck in his or her blocking animation.

It's difficult to take a screenshot of Laura that doesn't
look like I'm doing it for the sake of fanservice.

Some games have mechanics that allow you to cancel this state into an attack or end it early, such as the Just Defense system in Garou: Mark of the Wolves or guard cancels in the King of Fighters series.


A move you can use while you're getting hit. Your character breaks out of your opponent's combo, allowing you to regain momentum. This will typically cost you some amount of resources to perform, such as super meter. They're a well-known feature in the Killer Instinct games, but made their debut in the Mortal Kombat franchise in MK vs. DC Universe.


Interrupting one move by entering the input for another. This forms the basis of many games' combo systems.

Charge character

A character whose special moves mostly or entirely involve holding back or down for a second, then pushing forward or up in conjunction with an attack button.

Guile in Street Fighter II is the archetypical charge character, but most 2D fighting games will have at least one on the roster somewhere.


When you jump up to deliberately block a move while you're in mid-air. When your character lands, you come out of your block animation early and can retaliate just a little bit faster.

Obviously, this only works in games where you can block in mid-air. It's most commonly seen in the Marvel vs. Capcom series.

This link is NSFW (content warning: announcers swearing/having a lot of fun with this), but skip to 5:21 for a perfect example of chicken-guarding. Since Chris blocked Nova's super in mid-air, he recovered from blockstun upon landing and could instantly retaliate, ending the match.


Cherry tap

To knock out an opponent with one of your weakest attacks.

The term comes from the Street Fighter Alpha series, where when you won a round with a jab or short kick, your victory icon was a pair of cherries. This went on to appear in a couple of later games, such as 1995's Marvel Super Heroes.

Chip damage

A slight amount of damage that gets inflicted through a successful block. In most fighting games, normal attacks do not inflict chip damage, while special attacks do; however, a few games, most notably the Mortal Kombat franchise and Street Fighter V, have universal chip damage on block.

This is also sometimes referred to as cheesing. As with cherry tap, above, you got a block of cheese as your victory icon in Street Fighter Alpha if you knocked out an opponent with block damage.


An attack, usually a super, that takes the form of a short, non-interactive animated sequence. They cannot be interrupted once they begin, and some will even stop the round timer while they're playing.

Examples include the supers in the Injustice games, Ultra Combos in Street Fighter IV, or Spencer's Bionic Beatdown in Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3.

All you can do is watch the show.


A series of attacks in a row. How you achieve a combo will differ markedly from game to game, but in general, basic combo mastery is the first step in learning a new fighting game.

Command throw

A particular type of special move or super. Command throws typically cannot be blocked and inflict heavy damage, but leave you wide open if they miss. The ur-example is Zangief's Spinning Piledriver.


An attempt to circumvent an opponent's defense by attacking from an unexpected direction, so they don't immediately know where you're coming from and will have a hard time blocking you.


An informal slang term for a special move that involves some kind of jumping uppercut or kick, usually used as an anti-air. Named for Ryu and Ken's Dragon Punch (a.k.a. the Shoryuken) in Street Fighter II, which spurred countless imitators both in the Street Fighter franchise and elsewhere.

DP can also refer to the trademark joystick input -- down, forward, down-forward -- for a Shoryuken. Many fan-created move lists will use DP (or SRK) as shorthand for it.


This refers to when both players are testing out each other's defenses and trying to find an opening. This often involves a lot of long-range kicks, hence the name; in some games, such as Street Fighter IV, an extended period of footsies looks a lot like both characters are trying really hard to kick one another in the shins.

Frame Advantage

Frame advantage discusses how quickly a character becomes directly controllable again after a given action or reaction, measuring it in the number of frames of animation it involved. The more of a frame advantage you have, the faster you recover after a given action, and at the tournament level, players frequently build their strategies around manipulating frame advantage.

This is what fighting-game fans are talking about when they refer to a given move as "plus/minus on block." It's a specific, precise way to discuss a move's activation and recovery time. 

Frame Data

A measurement of how many frames of animation a given move lasts, which illustrates its response and recovery time. High-level players will often analyze frame data as a method of determining what moves to use in a given, specific situation, especially when they're trying to figure out a particular character match-up.

There are a number of ways to determine frame data, such as strategy guides, in-game tutorials, third-party analysis tools, or mods for a game's PC version.

Note: Frame data and frame rate are not the same thing. Frame rate is how fast the game is running; frame data is a relatively number-crunchy way to analyze characters' reaction speeds.

Frame Trap

An advanced tactic in which you're deliberately trying to bait your opponent into a counterattack, because it looks like you left yourself open. It's a mind game, because, in an ideal frame trap, you're using your character's skills to feign vulnerability.

A typical example: You're raining down hits on your opponent, who blocks them all, but you leave just enough of a gap between one hit and the next that he thinks you're done and tries to stick out an attack of his own. He is mistaken.


The part of a character that can interact with an opponent, whether it's by hitting or being hit. Hitboxes are invisible in a typical retail copy of a fighting game, but they can be revealed via mods or developer codes. Studying them can tell an advanced player a lot about how the game works, as a character's moves may temporarily grow, shrink, or outright remove their hitbox.

Alternatively, there's a type of highly specialized all-button arcade stick called a Hitbox, which some players swear by.

Hit confirm

To successfully turn an attack into the start of a combo. Also known as a conversion.


The period of time immediately after being struck when a character cannot act.

Invincibility frames

A window in which a character cannot be hit at all. Some characters have special moves that provide invincibility frames, and knowing when to use them is a big part of that character's strategy. For example, Haggar in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a common team pick entirely because his Spinning Lariat assist has a lengthy period of invincibility, which lets him stop enemies in their tracks.


An attack that, if it connects, knocks a character into the air in order to start a combo.


Timing an attack on an opponent so it hits as late in its animation as possible, typically while the opponent is standing back up. This is a method of gaining frame advantage.


Damage you inflict without having to burn any meter on it.

Mirror Match

A round in which both players are using the same character. Named after one of the later fights in the original Mortal Kombat's arcade mode. Sometimes simply called a "mirror."

Negative Edge

In a fighting game that has negative edge, its systems allow you to input special attacks by either pressing an attack button or letting go of one.

At a beginner level, this is likely why your attacks aren't working the way you want them to. At an advanced level, you can use negative edge to save a split-second on your inputs, which lets you pull off combos and tactics that would otherwise be impossible.

Relatively few games have negative edge. Recent examples include Street Fighter IV and Mortal Kombat 9.


Also abbreviated as "oki." A portmanteau of the Japanese words for "to wake up" and "to strike." See wake-up.


"Off the ground." Moves or attacks which strike a character who's lying prone, knocking him or her into the air for further punishment.

Some older games called this a "pursuit" move, although there, it's typically limited to a single hit.


An overhead, or a move that hits overhead, cannot be blocked from a crouching position.

This is designed to allow an attacker to get in on a defender who's simply crouching in the corner. Before the implementation of overheads, if an opponent simply spent the entire match holding down-back, there wasn't much an attacker could do about it.


A medium to long-range attack meant to test your opponent's defenses.


A vaguely controversial term that regards a given attack's chance to hit. It doesn't actually involve any math or random chance; instead, a "high-priority" move might have a bigger hitbox or temporarily move a character's hitbox out of harm's way.


A move done all by itself. You didn't combo into it or do anything to set it up; you just threw it out there. It will be extremely impressive if it hits anything. Sometimes it's worth doing to inflict some block damage, though.


To deliberately let a combo end so you can immediately start another one. High-level players will do this in order to get around the way that damage scales with the length of a long combo.


A rematch. Most commonly used to refer to one player earning a rematch against another player who's already beaten him or her once in the same tournament.


An attack that doesn't leave you at a potential disadvantage, such as a quick jab. You can throw safe attacks out all day and your character will recover in plenty of time to block or avoid an incoming counter.


A common term in the larger FGC, used to denote dissatisfaction, typically from a match that didn't go your way. This is why one of the most common reactions to a sore loser in FGC Twitch streams is an emote of a spilled container of table salt.


A character that looks and plays similarly to Ryu and Ken in Street Fighter, who both practice Shotokan karate.

A lot of subsequent fighting games used the general Ryu/Ken moveset as a kind of shorthand for its protagonist or its entry-level character. There are also a lot of similar or related fighters in later games in the Street Fighter franchise, such as Akuma, Sean Matsuda, Dean Snider, and Dan Hibiki.

Not Ryu or Ken, but an incredible simulation.


A special move, traditionally mapped to the Start button on arcade cabinets, where your character leaves him- or herself open in order to jeer at the opponent.

This is basically a way you can show off, although some games' taunts have additional capabilities. For example, Street Fighter III: Third Strike gives every character a short-lived buff after a successful taunt, Eternal Champions' taunts drain your opponent's chi meter (yeah, we mentioned Eternal Champions; old-school cred firmly achieved), and taunting an opponent right before you win a round in Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- means they start the next round with 50% Tension.

Tech hit

To break out of an attempt at a normal throw.


Using a quick attack, such as a light punch or kick, to set an opponent up for a command throw. Ideally, either the attack hits and you can use it as the beginning of a combo, or they block the attack and you land the throw while they're stuck in blockstun. Tick-throws are a big part of the game for anyone who's playing a wrestler or grappler.


Typically used in discussion of character matchups, "tiers" are an entirely arbitrary method of ranking characters' abilities. High-tier characters have many solid advantages; lower-tier characters are flawed in some significant way.

This is sometimes also discussed in terms of numerical match-ups. For example, if a character is said to be 6-4 against another character, assuming an equal amount of skill on both players' parts, the first character should confidently expect to win six out of every ten matches.

There is very little hard data behind tier lists, most of the time, and each one generally comes down to the writers' opinion. They can be an interesting point of discussion, as a game's tiers usually give you a good idea of what the competitive players are thinking, but if you're strictly a casual fan, you can (and probably should) ignore them altogether.


When both characters take damage at once; taking damage in order to inflict greater damage or gain a positioning advantage.


A move with a lengthy recovery time. If it misses or is blocked, you're leaving yourself wide open.

An unsafe move is generally high-risk, high-reward; throwing it out randomly is a bad idea, but if you figure out how and when to use it, it can be powerful. The Shoryuken, for example, is notoriously unsafe.


A general term that surrounds what you do when your opponent or your character have been knocked down. Also known as okizeme or oki, as above.

The wake-up game is a big part of any fighting game, although some, such as the Tekken franchise, make it more important than others. At its heart, the wake-up game is about how you use the advantage you've gained by knocking your opponent down, or conversely, how you recover momentum after getting knocked down yourself.

Wall bounce

A heavy attack that throws its target backward into a wall or the corner of the screen, allowing for follow-up attacks while they're recovering from the impact. This is also frequently called a wall splat.

Some games also allow you to inflict a ground bounce, which is exactly what it sounds like.


A character built around controlling space and making him- or herself difficult to approach. This typically involves a wide variety of projectiles and ranged attacks. A perfect round for a zoning-based character is one in which their opponent was unable to get anywhere near them.

Zoners tend to make people angry, especially early in a game's life (such as Full Auto Jacqui in the first few weeks after Mortal Kombat X came out), but eventually most people figure out their tricks. They're great in the first month or so, but after that, tend to fall out of regular use.

Even the sound of her gunshots still makes people angry.

Nowhere Near Done

This should be enough to get you started on a general level. If there are other terms you'd like to have explained, feel free to mention them in the comments below.

Fighting games can have a big learning curve, but they're one of the most social parts of this hobby, and you've probably got a local scene near you. Be ready to lose your first few (hundred) rounds, keep learning, and keep adjusting.

It's Time For A New Ape Escape Wed, 24 May 2017 10:32:26 -0400 Erroll Maas

The Ape Escape series, known as Saru Get You in Japan, is a platforming franchise developed by SCE Japan that sees players capturing "evil" monkey and restoring order to the world. The first game in the series was released in 1999 on the original PlayStation and since then, Ape Escape has seen two sequels, a PSP remake of the original game, and various spin-offs and party games. On top of that, characters from the series have made guest appearances in a few other PlayStation games.

The last mainline game in the series, Ape Escape 3, was released for the PlayStation 2 in 2005, so players have not seen a new entry in the franchise for 12 years. Now would be the perfect time to bring the series back.

With a Ratchet & Clank remake released in 2016 and the Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy coming in June -- as well as PlayStation 4 ports of the Jak & Daxter series on the way -- Sony would be crazy not to have something Ape Escape related in the works. The mainline series skipped an entire console generation. And that's just not acceptable. 

Monkeying Around in Three Fun Games

It might not be that easy for the game to make a return because players may not realize the importance of Ape Escape. The controls of Ape Escape are heavily centered around the analog sticks, with the original being the first game to require the use of the PlayStation's DualShock controller.

Unlike other platformers of the time that often used the D-pad for movement and the X button for jumping, Ape Escape reinvented the then accepted and conventional control scheme found in many games. The left stick moves characters throughout the world, while the right stick operates the player's selected gadget. The R1 and L1 buttons cycle through inventory items. 

By today's standards, that sounds banal, but during the PlayStation era, it was revolutionary. Bringing the game back with a modern version of this control scheme could interest players, as it helps make the gameplay more unique, and as many have seen with the release of Snake Pass, unique controls are great when done well. Perhaps the touchpad on the DualShock 4 could be integrated in a clever way, similar to Tearaway Unfolded or Gravity Rush 2.

Ape Escape 2 featured a new main character named Jimmy, new gadgets, and new minigames. Another notable feature of Ape Escape 2 were the five new boss characters known as The Freaky Monkey Five, an elite team of smarter-than-average monkeys whose abilities were enhanced by eating special bananas. These particular monkeys all have different skills, and can be really annoying to fight. However, the gameplay continued to revolve around use of the analog sticks, so there wasn't too much of a change. 

In Ape Escape 3, there are two characters -- a male character named Satoru, and a female character named Sayaka, who has the ability to leave certain monkeys starstruck and immobilized due to being a pop sensation. Ape Escape 3 had fewer gadgets, but instead had a device that allows characters to morph into different forms. The monkeys could also steal certain gadgets and use them against the player.

Ape Escape 2 may not have had many improvements, but Ape Escape 3 shows that the series was clearly getting better and heading somewhere. So why didn't we get Ape Escape 4 for the PlayStation 3 or Vita? Well, there is one possible, yet simple answer.

The Amount of Ape Escape Spin-Offs is Bananas

The reason we haven't yet gotten Ape Escape 4 may be because those responsible for the series were focusing on spin-off titles for several years. The first few spinoffs came between the release schedules of each mainline game, but Ape Escape saw five different spin-off games after the release of Ape Escape 3. These ranged from party games to racing games, to role playing games and even a separated spin-off series for PlayStation Portable known as Ape Escape Academy.

The last game related to the Ape Escape series was PlayStation Move Ape Escape in 2011, an on rails game that utilized the PlayStation move motion controller. And although not a true Ape Escape game, the goal was still to catch monkeys. Unfortunately, the PlayStation move spin-off received largely negative reception, with some claiming it felt like a "bargain bin Wii title" instead of a fleshed out spin-off. The negative reception may have discouraged the team from making another Ape Escape game, not realizing that a few years later, many fans would want the return of the primate capturing franchise.

Will We See Ape Escape 4 Soon?

At the moment, nobody truly knows if a new Ape Escape is in the works. Since it's been over a decade since Ape Escape 3, and about six years since the last game in the Ape Escape series (which was terrible), it's about time for the intelligent helmet wearing monkeys to run rampant through the world again. The franchise may have missed the Year of the Monkey, but maybe we'll see a new game in the series finally announced sometime later this year.

Do you think a new Ape Escape game will be announced soon? Which Ape Escape game is your favorite? Let us know in the comments! 

3 Mind Numbing Puzzlers That are Just as Wild as Puyo Puyo Tetris Tue, 16 May 2017 16:25:26 -0400 Jaleesa Mitchell

Puyo Puyo Tetris is taking the world by storm. Developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega, Puyo Puyo Tetris is a mash-up of the two franchises that takes gameplay to a whole new zany level. 

But if you can't pick up this newest iteration to the growing set of franchises -- or just want another puzzler that's in the same vein of Puyo Puyo Tetris -- there are plenty of competitive (sometimes cutesy) games out on the market that will help you scratch that itch. If Puyo Puyo Tetris is what you seek, but cannot find, then look here to see versions of it that are divine.

That may be a really bad rhyme, but I think it pretty much sums up what you're about to read. Let's dive in. 


Octopi are undeniably weird creatures. They have eight legs and are pretty darn squishy. They even have a beak and squirt ink any time their under duress. So, why put them in a video game? 

The better question is: why not? 

Octomania is a game where the player uses the Wii remote to control a cursor over a field of colored octopi. There are numbered nets all over the playing field, and the idea is to get the same colored octopi -- or octopi connected orthogonally -- together and under the nets. After the player's done this, the octopi are removed and he or she can then send sea urchins to their competition's field (they can't be removed unless they are orthogonal to other octopi are being removed).

The player loses the game if his or her field is completely covered with sea urchins for three seconds. 

Octomania features a single-player story mode and a multiplayer mode for up to four players. If you enjoyed Puyo Puyo, you should check this game out. Not only does it include cute little octopi, but the gameplay is similar to Puyo Puyo. So trade out your puyos for octopi and enjoy the ride!

Egg Mania: Eggstreme Madness

I don't know about you, but I love eggs or, I at least like eating them. But seeing them in games is cool, too. In Egg Mania: Eggstreme Madness, an egg-shaped character controls the pieces for you -- and it's complete madness. 

Just like with Puyo Puyo, the player is supposed to reach the top of the screen faster than their opponent -- who is either a CPU or a human. The Tetris component of the game is that the rows you create have to be complete in order for the tetrominoes (and similar blocks) to disappear. If not, they'll collapse under weight and dissolve in water.

Egg Mania: Eggstreme Madness is worth playing because it has interesting mechanics, where enemies randomly appear to halt your progress and shorcuts open in several levels, adding a unique quality to the game. On top of that, the backgrounds on each level change. They're a mix of fantasy, sci-fi, martial arts, and other genres. 

It's a wild ride with wild visuals and mechanics to go along with it. 

Egg Mania: Eggstreme Madness is on GameBoy Advance, PlayStation 2, GameCube, and Xbox.

Magical Drop

Magical Drop is the last game on our list. It's an interesting game where the characters are named after tarot cards. You can play as the Fool, Magician, High Priestess, Star, Devil, or Chariot. The game has two modes: the single-player mode is score based, while the versus mode is played against either a computer player or another human.

In this game, a "clown" arranges the players' colored bubbles into stacks of three. Like with all Tetris and bubble games, this causes them to be destroyed. Chains can be formed with either a single drop or several drops in quick succession.

The game was originally named Chain Reaction, and it is a tile-matching puzzle game that was developed by Data East for arcades in 1995. It's also an adaptation of an obscure Russian DOS game called Drop-Drop.

It's been released on Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), PlayStation, Saturn, Arcade, the Wii Shop, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Portable (PSP).


Did you all enjoy reading about games that are like Puyo Puyo Tetris? Rhyming aside, I hope that you all take the time to check out these three games. The cuteness of these games alone should scream "Yes, I'm fantastic!" which is something that you can't ignore.

So, settle down, and play some Puyo Puyo Tetris wannabes. It might surprise you!