Podcasting, Gaming, and Whatever strikes me at the time.

Top 5

Top 5 games that need a sequel!

Sometimes, we just don’t get enough. Sometimes, we get too much. So while people may complain about series that need to end, I decided to look at the other side of the coin. Here are some games that I feel need to continue in some way shape or form. Now, I won’t be including any recent releases, mostly because it’s still possible in a lot of those cases (shovel knight, the last of us, and so on) that they may in fact get a follow up at some point. The games on my list, in no real order, are unlikely to get a real sequel or follow-up.

 

Ico/ Shadow of colossus

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Now, I know that this series is in theory continuing with The last guardian. I say in theory because there is still no release date, it may or may not be canceled, and it may or may not have been moved onto the PS4. But, lets pretend that we don’t know about the last guardian, or we never get the last guardian. That last one shouldn’t be too hard.

Now I have reviewed ICO, and while I wasn’t its biggest fan, I did understand what made the game the cult classic many people said it was. While I haven’t beaten Shadow of Colossus, as I play it I also understand the love for that game as well. SOC is a ton of fun to play with a very iconic and unique mechanic, and its very easy to get absorbed into the world, thanks largely to the mystery of it and the sheer size of it. But, both games leave a lot to be desired from a explanation perspective. While some would argue that the ending indicates that ICO is a sequel to SOC, developers of the game have said that there isn’t any real connection between the two. But there are a lot of similarities between the two that are too great to ignore. So, I would like a game to both explain the world around both games and even connect them. I say would… because I’m not sure I should. In these games in particular, it’s all about the mystery behind them, and the fact that the few things explains are purposely left vague, which allows the player to reflect and take away from it what they want. Explaining it feels wrong, and would take away part of the games wonder. It’s the kind of follow-up I want, even when I know I shouldn’t. Still, for all I know, the last guardian will do all these things. Wonder if we will ever see it.

 

Prey

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Anyone even remember Prey? I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t. This game started development as far back in 1995, before being released on the Xbox 360 in 2006 by Human Head studios. It wasn’t the greatest game, but it was well received at the time of its release. In it, you play as Tommy, a Cherokee man who’s trying to convince his girlfriend to leave the reservation they live on, and is then abducted by aliens, and their ship, known as the Sphere. While it does sound silly, and it is, there is a great deal of character in the game, it looked amazing for the time, and it is really well put together, with unique and inventive game play sections and a great story, even if the multiplayer was lacking. It was a game I really got into when I first got my 360, and truthfully its a game I still love. It did tease a sequel at the end, but as we are in 2014, 8 years later, and there has been very little news on the that home front.

 

 

Now, the few people who do still care are quick to point out that there is a sequel in theory being developed. Much like Last Guardian, Prey 2 supposedly exists, but it’s also stuck in development limbo, with even less to show for it then the Last Guardian has. Supposedly, a sequel would take us into deep space playing a human bounty hunter as he tracks down alien bounties. I’m curious how that would tie into the original game, if it even can, I’m not sure, but it looks like it would do exactly what I would want it to do, open up the world on Prey and explore it. Maybe give us an origin for Sphere? Sadly, the only real evidence these days that says the game is still on the way is on the Xbox 360 itself, where it is still listed in the coming soon section of the store, well that and scattered fan sites. Unlike the ICO/SOC example, I do really hope this one eventually sees the light of day, as the world of Prey really needs to be explored. Plus, being a bounty hunter is always awesome.

 

 

Chrono Trigger/ Cross

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Square and Enix are sitting on a treasure trove of great RPG games that should get a follow-up, but probably never will, and that’s just separately, there is also the sheer amount of games they have since coming together that warrant follow ups in some way shape or form. But I can’t think of any greater want by fans then a follow-up for Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross. To date, there are only 3 games in the series,( one of which, Radical Dreamers, was released only in japan as a visual novel) countless remakes, but so far… nothing else. We are constantly being told that if we support the game by buying it again and again, they will consider making a sequel. But I think at this point we need to be honest with ourselves. Square is never gonna follow this series up, and that makes me sad.

 

To be fair to Square, the fact there are two games that involve time travel/ dimension hopping that are both excellent is a god send in of itself. Time travel is a story hook that is so easy to screw up. Just ask Sonic. But Square was able to do it, and then ignore it. Fans have pleaded for it, and even made games themselves, but so far, nothing from the big Square. This is a series that could really use a follow-up, and do I even need to explain why? The things you can do with time travel and alternate dimensions write themselves and while campy it would be, it would still be a blast. Plus, it would be an excellent excuse for Square Enix to go back to a more traditional style of game play, something that I think is needed after the recent string of Final Fantasy games. I think there is still money in this franchise, but how to get Square to see the same is beyond me.

 

Eternal Darkness

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Now this was the BOMB back in the Gamecube days. Actually, I would be content with just a HD remake of this gem. If your unaware of it, Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, was a survival horror game that tapped into a Cthulhu like mythos, with a ton of great ways to mess with you via the insanity meter, which tricked you into thinking all kinds of things have gone wrong, like some really bad creepy pasta game story happening IN REAL LIFE!

The game was a stand out title on the Gamecube launch, mostly because everything else was standard Nintendo fare, and this M rated gem. But beyond that it was also really good, and as mentioned, decently scary. The story was well done too, with a very nice, thick and tense atmosphere. The only real downside to this game was the tank like controls of Resident Evil’s past, but that’s forgivable to some extent, as it was the style at the time. It did tease a follow-up at the games ending, but the series unfortunately never continued past that point, due in part to Silicon Knights being sued by Epic games in 2007, and filing for bankruptcy in 2014. Unless Nintendo plans to do something with ED soon, their rights to the trademark are done, and this once promising series may just disappear off the map, lost forever in the twisting nether.
Sadly, seeing as the former president of Silicon Knights, Denis Dyack, has tried and failed twice to get kickstarter funding for a sequel, its unlikely we will ever see a follow-up to this series. While it is a shame, the numbers don’t lie. Kickstarter has funded some really stupid things, like potato salad, but the general public just has no interest in a follow-up, disappointing though it may be.

 

 

Star Wars: knights of the old republic

 

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Now, here is a series that never got the fair shake it deserved. Oh wait, it did. 126 game awards, including many best XBox game awards. Both KOTR 1 and 2 are considered RPG classics in this modern age, even though the 2nd one was rushed and ultimately felt lopsided. While there is of course the MMO, it only relates to this series as far as I’m aware by being in the same timeline, the Old Republic. So, it’s before the movies, but after the games, by 300 years or so. There had been plans for KOTR 3, but it was cancelled, largely for unknown reasons. I don’t think I have to explain why this series needs a comeback, because I assume most of you have played one or the other. It’s an amazing game, with an excellent story that easily accepts player input and changes, excellent RPG game play, iconic Star Wars locations and races, and a wicked soundtrack. OK, they took most of that soundtrack from the movies, but I still count it. But there are plenty of other reasons as well, depending on what your into. For me, its Revan and the Exile, the two lead characters of KOTR 1 and 2, respectfully.

The story of Revan and the Exile were never finished. Revan and the plot twist behind him/her was well told, and at the time, very shocking, even bringing up the ethical debate of erasing someone’s mind.   But beyond that, the game just kind of ends, and while we learn in KOTR 2 that Revan just kind of disappeared, we never do learn what happened to him/her. I have heard there is a book while doing some research, but that’s kind of making assumptions about a general version of Revan, such as he is a male, and ends up a Jedi, and marries Bastilla. It might be a good read, but it’s not the same as controlling Revan’s actions. While it would have been tough to follow-up Revan at all, The Exile’s story also does an excellent job. The exile themselves is a mystery, a black hole in the force, and while the truly interesting characters in KOTR 2 are it’s villains, being a strange anomaly that both the Sith and the Jedi both fear and respect is an awesome feeling. The game story does start out slow, but the exile arguably has the more unique story, which is probably for the best, as they were not going to top Revan without being  unique. The universe can still be explored, but we were not just there to explore the Star Wars universe. We wanted to know more about Revan and the Exile, but the ending we got is certainly not what we wanted.

 

 

There are of course plenty of other series that need a follow-up of some kind, but these are the few that I think really deserve it. Let me know in the comments or on twitter if you can think of any other series that could use a follow-up!

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Top 5 Video Game Soundtracks!

I’m not going to lie, I had something else planned, but it’s been slightly delayed so I can play more of the game to write on it better. I want to make sure I get my thoughts down just right before I show it to the world. So while writing, I have a tendency to listen to music. My taste in music varies, and I’m certainly no musical expert, but as I listened to various themes, I asked myself, what is my favorite soundtrack? Soundtracks are important to game design, as a good tune can add so much to any part of a game, be it a cut scene, a boss battle, or even just a great catchy theme song. To keep things as varied as possible, I have added a rule. My one per franchise rule is in play, but I’m also going to cut out what I call mix tape soundtracks, from things like sports games or music games. I want music that is written for the game, not a mix of popular music. And I will include a link to my favorite song on that soundtrack.

 

Honorable Mentions: Mass Effect 3, Halo, Final Fantasy, Super Mario 3 soundtrack, Catharine, Castlevania 3. Portal 2

 

 

5. Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim

God damn you Skyrim and your catchy ass theme!

It’s really the reason why so many people pick this game as a soundtrack great. All because of one song, picking the entire thing up on its back and carrying it. To be fair, it’s a memorable song, easily the soundtrack standout without question, as it conveys the sense and scale of the epic adventure to be had. To be honest though, much of the soundtrack is ambience though, and many of the few other “songs” are just variations of this one song. It’s why it rates so low on my list. But this one song gets my blood pumping just to hear it. It makes me want to slay dragons and use my booming voice to effect the world, and then gives me a game to do just that. Plus the fact that they made a language for the game and used it in this song  is a special kind of cool.

 

4. Mega Man 2.

Mega man 2 is a cliché choice, I can’t lie. Everyone who appreciates old school chip music gravitates to MM2, and there is a good reason for it. Every tune is catchy and memorable,  and considering how often you may replay a stage to beat a boss, they never grate on the ear, which is very important, especially in the older days of gaming, where music had to be as short as possible and was often looped. It’s also hard to pick a favorite, as so many tunes are well done. Some highlights are Crash mans theme, the opening theme, flash mans theme, and of course, my personal favorite, Dr Wily stage 1.

 

It’s widely considered to be one of the best themes in the series, and I’m inclined to agree. After battling through 8 tough stages, this theme picks you right back up, giving you that push to move forward and save Dr. Light. It’s invigorating.

 

The reason it’s so low on my list is because, quite frankly, I prefer the mixes that came out of this game as opposed to the chip tunes themselves. They are excellent, don’t get me wrong, but so many people have made great remixes of these songs, and some of them are better than the original tunes, such as this remix of crash man and Justin Timberlake’s lovestoned. Or even check out OCremix for a huge list of remix’s of these songs. You really can’t go wrong either way, though.

 

 

3.Street Fighter 2

 

I could pretend to have taste and put something classy here, like a Zelda tune, or a final fantasy soundtrack. But, that wouldn’t be me.I’m not a terribly classy guy. I had to ask myself, what is my favorite song in gaming? I had only one answer.

 

Guile themes rounds out as my favorite theme song ever, and the soundtrack of the game is awesome too. To hell with Ducktales, I can’t stop humming this after I hear it. It’s catchy, it literally goes with everything, and is iconic as all hell. Even if you have never played a Street Fighter game, you know this theme, and you know to go home and be a family man. The entirety of SF2’s soundtrack is awesome, showcasing what the SNES could do in terms of music. Everyone had a great theme, and each one is easily identifiable to its character, at least at this stage, before some of the stranger soundtracks, like Street Fighter 3’s hip hop/ jazz soundtrack. And something as simple as the soundtrack speeding up as the match was coming to an end was just really cool, and something you don’t see often, either then or now. But Guile easily stays ahead of the crowd with this jaw dropping masterpiece of musical bliss. It’s also really easy to remix, as the many remixes you can find online will tell you.   This is taking nothing away from any of the other excellent choices I could have made, but personal preference ruled the day here. The only reason it doesn’t go straight to number one is this about soundtracks, not songs themselves. Guile’s theme is great, and would win on its own, but the rest of the soundtrack, while good, doesn’t compare to the cheesy fun that is Guile’s theme, or so of my other  choices.

 

 

 2. Double Dragon Neon.

This was a surprise hit for me, and was a contender for one of my favorite games of the year last year. It sadly didn’t make the top 5, but a top 10 it would have easy. The soundtrack is one of the reasons why. Nothing about Neon is subtle. It’s completely tongue in cheek from beginning to end, and is very much a throwback to the ridiculous 80’s, where everything was simpler and we just accepted the random crap we had to deal with in games. Logic had no place then. Neon is a throwback to those nostalgic times, and to help is a soundtrack that does sound like it was made in the 80’s, and the whole thing rocks. I can’t say often that I enjoy the entirety of a game’s soundtrack, but Neon does provide that. I can listen to any song at any time and groove on it, and each one is memorable. But the standout track to me is an early one, before the game goes over the top.

 

This song just… infects me, and makes me groove, like full out dance to it. It’s a cheesy 80’s dance hit, and it does nothing to hide that, nor should it. The entire soundtrack is a lot of fun, and like the game itself, is very much a love letter, er.. song rather, to the era that inspired it. The best part of the soundtrack however, is that you can download the entire thing for whatever price you want, even free.

 

 

1.Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.

Of course Metal Gear is at the top of the list. The franchise rule really stuck me here. The entirety of the Metal Gear Solid franchise has excellent music, so it was harder to narrow down. I was able to narrow it down to three out of the Metal Gear franchise, Guns of the patriots, Snake Eater and Metal Gear Rising. Ultimately I had to choose between the majestic and symphonic work of Harry Gregson-Williams for Guns and Snake Eater and the wicked metal soundtrack that is ultimately so infectious of MGR. All 3 soundtracks have excellent themes, be it from MGR’s awesome metal soundtrack to punctuate your hack and slash game play and jazz you up for more intense action, to the somber and atmospheric tunes that are in much of Snake Eater and Guns. It was tough, but one song titled the favor, and if you’ve played the game, I bet you know the song.

 

I’m a sucker for Bond themes though, so perhaps it’s not fair. But Kojima and Harry really hit this theme out of the park. It’s somber and catchy, and the music video/ intro it’s attached to is wicked. It’s no wonder that not only does the game play the song twice, but Konami sneaked  the song into one of the Karaoke Revolution games. It’s that good. And the rest of the soundtrack has great moments as well, helping to give the game a truly cinematic feel to it, full of wonder and bombast, something that Guns just couldn’t do as well as Snake Eater did. Harry Gregson-Williams is one of my favorite composers admittedly, and this game is one of the many reasons why. Snake Eater is one of the more intimate and personal stories in the MG series, and the soundtrack helps sell it as being one of the best in the series to boot.

 

Of course, those were just my picks. Feel free to throw out your favorite’s soundtracks, or even just the songs themselves.


Top 5 Flawed Gems! Or, the best of the meh of last generation.

Games have flaws. Really, everything has flaws when you dissect it enough. But I find the most damning thing to affect the games we play is hype and word of mouth. I say it’s damning because as opposed to playing games that we think we might be interested in, many people, myself included, look only at the games that get big marketing, or get covered by major review sites, or something our friends are hyped about. Conversely, word of mouth and those same review sites warn us about horrible, broken games, and often warn us to stay the hell away. They are useful in protecting us from the horrible games, like say… Aliens: Colonial Marines, but I find that too many games get bunched together with the bad when they are more than passable, or when they have one shining concept that makes them worth looking at regardless. Sure they are flawed, but that doesn’t mean they should be lumped in with Colonial Marines. On that notion, here are 5 games that I think get a bad rap when they really shouldn’t, and perhaps deserve a second look, especially given the age of the games and how little they cost these days.

 

 

5. Brutal Legend

Brutal Legend

 

Brutal Legend is kind of a cheat on this list. Mostly because it actually was well received critically, averaging scores in the 8’s. So the critics didn’t hurt this one, so what did? I can’t say for sure, but if I had to guess, it was the fact that this game was a RTS. First off, it wasn’t advertised as having RTS game play, EA actively saying to Tim Schafer that RTS is a naughty word in the console space, and it’s not apparent until after the first hour or so of playtime. It’s a dirty bait and switch, considering even the demo of the game makes it look like a standard hack and slash game, God of War style. But, despite that fact, I deeply love this game for two reasons. First, Brutal Legend makes no secret about its inspirations, and while it is silly fantasy, the game still feels as metal as possible! Racing demons, using your axe guitar, meeting ozzy for upgrades and Lemmy for… well, no spoilers, and just… it’s something that can’t be put into words, you have to experience it. The second thing is the awesome metal soundtrack for the game. Let me list some of the bands that lent their songs to this soundtrack: Children of Bodom, Motorhead, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne, Lita Ford, Scorpions, Black Sabbath, Manowar, and Motley Crue. I could keep going, but I think you get the point. It also benefits from having that classic Schafer writing and humor, and awesome voice work by the likes of Ozzy, Motorhead’s Lemmy, Jack Black and Tim Curry, just for examples. I’m so sad this game didn’t sell better, because a sequel was planned, but EA scrapped it due to low sales. It never broke the top 10 in sales in the month it was released. Even with the RTS game play, I still believe you should play it. It is indeed a epic legend, and it did not deserve its fate.

 

 

4. Dragon Age 2

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Speaking of EA… this is another game that I find myself defending every time I bring it up, as I seem to be the only person who even remotely enjoys playing it. Much like Brutal Legend before it, the game was well received critically, earning 8’s, but as soon as it was released, the fans chewed it apart in a way that would not be seen again, until Mass Effect 3 came out the next year, proving that even the golden goose can lay a rotten egg or two. But, I find a lot of the criticism against this game to be… well, overblown and unfair. While I can agree that the recycled areas are disappointing, I don’t have the same issue that people have with things like combat, or story. Combat wise I think the game is rather spot on, giving it a Mass Effect edge of being action oriented, which is in no way a bad thing, but it is very different. I find the difference between Origins and 2 is more or less like this, Origins was all about preparation. If you were unprepared in any way, be it an injured character, underpowered gear, or things like that, you were screwed. 2 was more focused around reaction, allowing for bad situations to be salvaged more frequently than in Origins. It also helps keep the player more involved directly in combat, as opposed to feeling like someone watching from outside. Now I’m not saying the original game, or games that play the same (ie. Baldur’s Gate) are bad, just different in how they approach gameplay. I find the story is only disappointing when you compare it to the first game, which defiantly had a sense of urgency that 2 does not have until the last act, but I do feel that Hawke’s overall story was a perfect fit, given that the world built around him/her was well done. Yes, I have nitpicks with the story as well, but those little nitpicks don’t change my opinion on it. 2’s story was all about setting up the third game, like many stories that have to contend with an all but guaranteed sequel to wrap things up in a trilogy. Hopefully Inquisition will find a balance between Origins and 2 to satisfy everyone, and considering the Mass Effect fiasco, Bioware could use a solid gold hit now.

 

And before you ask, No, Mass Effect 3 is not on this list. A) I find myself agreeing more with the issues with it than DA2. And B) I know more people that enjoyed ME3 than DA2. I have yet to speak to a person who says they even like DA2.

 

3. Game of Thrones.

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Yep, a licensed title, the bane of all video games. Many of these games deserve the bashing they get, but I think GOT is at the very least should be played regardless. It came out to average review scores, and was quickly forgotten. Many modern licensed games get this fate and deserve it, and on the surface so does Game of Thrones. It’s an average looking game, with muddy and unpolished visuals, an interesting but flawed approach to combat, and mediocre voice acting. What sets this one apart though is its story, hands down. Written By George R.R. Martin himself (who of course gets a Stan Lee like cameo), the story does not shove you straight into the events of the TV series, but rather plays very naturally alongside it. People often forget that the world of Westros is massive, and while the decisions and lives of its royalty are probably the most interesting things in it, we often see very little of the world around them. This game helps bridge that gap, in a small way. If nothing else, it is an excellent companion piece to the Game of Thrones TV series, and on its own is a well written RPG. Martin put some real effort into it, and it shows. If there had been more time to polish it up, the sky could have been the limit. But of course, as a licensed game, it had to be shoved out the door as quick as possible.

2. Splatterhouse

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Reboot of a well known sega classic? For shame! It must be terrible! After all, many remakes are… like… huh, I can’t think of any now, but it’ll come to me I’m sure.   The game came out sadly after Halloween in November of 2010, to little fanfare. If only it had been a month earlier. But in any case, Splaterhouse is a reboot of the original game, but damn if it isn’t impressive. It certainly captures the spirit of the original game by being over the top and gory, living up to its name in every way. Rick can lose limbs and beat enemies with them, and the animation of the limb growing back is really well done. Its well voice acted, if not a little campy, and the creature designs are… well, I describe them best as sloppy. Not bad, but they look messy. Given that they are corpses and the like, it’s a good look. Granted, I can also see why this one didn’t catch on at the time. On its surface, it’s a god of war clone, and unless you know the history of the series, it seems to be nothing more than that. It’s also kind of a bare bones experience, with little in the way to bring the player back to it after a rental, with the most interesting side feature is the fact the game comes with the original 3 games as unlockables, and the cheesecake factor of picking up sexy photos of your girlfriend Jennifer. I admit after buying it to add it to my collection, I haven’t really looked at it. Maybe as we creep into Halloween, I’ll play it again. Even with that in mind, I still think Splatterhouse is an excellent God of War style game that knows exactly who its target audience is, and is not afraid to give them exactly what they want. It ain’t classy, but sometimes, this is exactly what we need. Plus listening to Jim Cummings swear is hilarious if you picture any of Disney roles.

Sonic! That was the remake I was thinking of! No more remakes Sega, we don’t need em from sonic.

 1. Alpha Protocol

Alpha Protocol

 

And here we have it, the game I love to defend. Yeah, odds are you’re at least vaguely aware of the polarizing Obsidian RPG. Released in 2010, this Spy thriller/RPG was released to the widest mix of reviews I have ever seen, with some giving it 8, and others giving 2, and almost everything in between. And the home audience felt more or less the same, praising its story and narrative, while harshly berating the games broken launch and horrible combat. This is what I consider to be an underground or “cult” hit, and I am one of the people who can look past the broken combat. I can see what they were trying. Really, they were trying to ape Mass Effect. Cover based shooter, narrative choices, and a varied and unique story depending on the choice you make. This game is basically Mass effect meets The Bourne series. But they have a few unique twists on the Mass Effect concept. Decisions in conversations are no longer “good” or “bad” but each character you talk to does have an affinity with certain responses, and making friends and enemies play a huge factor in the game. But you’re not given an unlimited amount of time to make these decisions, as every conversation has a time limit on your choices, forcing you to think quickly and adapt, kind of like how a real conversation works. The game’s story also changes depending on the order in which you do the missions, making each one actually feel impactful on the overall tale. And the story itself is actually really well done as well. It’s an excellent spy movie, that you get the play! It’s a shame playing it sucks, does it ever suck. Combat is RPG based, but plays like an action game. Targeting cursors mean little, as you can miss even with what looks like a direct hit. If the game had taken a page from Fallout and the VATS systems, it would make for better gameplay. Visually the game is also atrocious, being downright ugly. It’s hard to look at sometimes, and feels lazy, with loads of texture popping and clipping issues abound. The game also has plenty of slowdown issues and freezes too. Despite all that though, I still recommend this one highly, and was one of the few games this generation I played through from start to finish over a weekend, something I find myself doing less and less as I get older. There was just this enrapturing quality to this one, making it worth checking out; especially when you consider the price tag on this one is so low.


Top 5 Games that were never released

South Park the stick of truth was quickly becoming the next big vaporware title, a game that was constantly getting delayed and would maybe never see the light of day. It became a joke in my household, even the show itself was well aware the game was in release date limbo, and joked at it. But it was eventually released, when so many games never actually see the light of day. Some are greatly anticipated, others are from companies you never heard of. This is a list of 5 of the more interesting titles that I could remember hearing about in one way or another that have either been canceled outright or just oddly disappeared.

Honorable Mentions:

Resident Evil 4 (Hallucination version), Maverick Hunter, Starcraft Ghost, Metroid Dread, Earthbound 64, Mega Man Legends 3, Thrill Kill, Highlander: the game.

5. Fighting is Magic.

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No, your eyes do not deceive you.  This was in fact at some point a real thing. A fighting game based on My little Pony Friendship is Magic.  Now as you may have guessed, of course this was never an official release. So while many would dismiss it as either being a) a fan game or b) stupid, you might be surprised at the quality of this fan made game.  It started as nothing more than fan art (as many things in the Brony community do) that exploded from a conversation of ideas. Eventually, the development team of Mane 6 (they also like puns) started using Fighter Maker 2D, despite having no experience with the software or any game development experience really, and began to make what actually might have been a real quality fighting experience, with ponies, of course.  Taking elements and play styles from across many other fighters, such as wall jumps, teleports, EX moves, supers, and the like. They truly wanted to make a high quality fighting game, and for a time, it actually looked rather impressive.  Take a look at this video here to see the game in action, and you may find yourself surprised.

SO WHAT HAPPENED?

Sadly, the overly eager and excitable fan base happened.

As the developers released pre-alpha gameplay footage on youtube, not only did the brony community flock to it, but fighting game enthusiasts did as well.  Eventually the team was asked to demo their game at EVO 2012, the premiere event for fighting games, as one of many indy developers.  It gained a lot of momentum there, and at the next years EVO, was one of the 17 nominees for the “Player’s Choice” slot to be added to the main competition.  It almost won, despite not yet being complete, which was a lot more than anyone anticipated.

And then they received the Cease and Desist, effectively shutting the game down entirely. It’s debatable why now, considering Hasbro has been very allowing of the things fan make about their shows, but I suspect it was because it gained a ton of popularity thanks to EVO, and was more than likely shut down to prevent precedence in court.  Now it should be the clear that Mane 6 claimed they would never accept donations or charge for the game, but Hasbro all the same sent the C&D. An alpha version of the game was leaked at some point before EVO 2012,  but it certainly did not reflect on the quality.  It’s a shame when this happens, but Hasbro was within their rights. Currently Mane 6 is working on a new fighter with original characters that were graciously created by the former creative director of the show Lauren Faust. So there is a silver lining.

4. Castlevania (PS3-Xbox360)

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I can’t say much for this one, because information is a sketchy as could be.  The only information that this “game” exists, is this video.

(Apologies for the audio, as it’s a cam recording. Like I said, info is very hard to find.)

The only real information that I could find about this game was that this video was showcased at Tokyo Game Show 2008, and it was meant to be made for the PS3 and Xbox 360. It does not appear to be related to the Lords of Shadow series, but it might have been the original idea WAY back before Mercury steam began development of Lords of Shadow, but even that cannot be confirmed.  With so little information, I only choose to add it because simply it may mean that  instead of the Lords of Shadow series, we may have been meant to play a direct sequel to Symphony of the Night, which is many people’s favorite Castlevania game, myself included.

SO WHAT HAPPENED?

It’s likely been cancelled, as the Lords of Shadow series was the focus for Castlevania on this generation. It was announced at the time that former producer for the series Koji Igarashi was not going to develop a 3d Castlevania game, and several ideas were pitched for a new 3d game.  It is possible that it’s a secret project still being worked on, but after 6 years with nothing else to show, it’s highly unlikely.

3. The Chrono Trigger Remake ( AKA Chrono Resurrection)

Chrono_Resurrection_logo

Square Enix seems to have no interest in making the games we want anymore, more than willing to let old favorites gather dust.  I had considered mentioning Chrono Break on the list, a Trademark Square filed in 2001, but there was no game announced at that point, or ever, so I don’t think it counts.  That trademark is now expired, if you’re interested in buying it yourself.  So if Square seems to have no interest in it, despite strong sales of every version of the game released, the fans decided to pick this one up for themselves.

Chrono Resurrection, also known as Chrono Trigger: Resurrection, was to be made for the Nintendo 64 (emulators, but work with me). The developer, Nathan Lazur, had the idea in 1999 when playing Chrono Trigger and Super Mario 64.  This remake was first started by a 4 man team then known as Resurrection Games, and  would have the same battle system as the original, but would have two modes of play. One would be 2D and pre-rendered graphics enhanced with 3D spells and battle effects, And a second mode, would feature full 3D, displayed in either regular or High display resolution.  Sadly, that version was lost, and Lazur wanted to improve his programming skills, and thus phase 2 was put together.  Phase 2 was really meant more as a demo for the concept, perhaps to showcase how awesome it would be to play this game in 3d on even stronger systems, like the PS2 or Xbox. Even the footage for the N64 version looked damn impressive, considering its age.

SO WHAT HAPPENED?

Cease and Desist for trademark infringement.  According to Lazur, the teams website had been receiving heavy traffic from Japan for a 3 month period prior to getting the C&D. Odds are it were employees at Square or various lawyer assistants.  Many gaming websites, such as 1Up.com, Gamespot and Nintendo World Report called the project’s second version ambitious, and praised it for keeping faithful to the series. After the C&D, Gamepro Australia called the project “possibly the greatest fan remake to get crushed under the huge shoe of a big time developer”. Several internet petitions were created to try and pressure Square Enix into green lighting either it or an official sequel (fans would be happy either way), but none have had any effect. It seems Square has no interest in following this series up.

2. Resident Evil 1.5

Resident-Evil-1.5

You could argue I’m cheating on this one, but it’s my list, so I count it. The resident evil series has a tendency to go through many versions and ideas that end up being scrapped.   Resident evil 2 probably went the furthest, as it was close to finished before the slate was wiped clean and they started over.   So what was changed? Quite a bit, as it turns out.   Two new characters were made to be protagonists, first Leon S.  Kennedy, who remained mostly unchanged from the version we know, and a female motorcycle racer/ college student Elza Walker.  These characters never interacted with each other, and their paths never crossed in gameplay.  More survivors could be found, many of which were police officers, and both characters had 2 support partners instead of one.  The police station was smaller and had a more modern look then in the final version. Zombies and other critters were less detailed, with fewer polygons used, the tradeoff however being that there could be more on the screen at one time, giving the player the sense of dread of being overwhelmed.  One of the more interesting features was the concept that the playable characters could also be equipped with clothing, which would allow them to carry more gear or take more damage, with the characters models being altered by these costume changes and by damage received from monsters.  I can recall seeing this information leaked in a Gamepro magazine around 1996-1997, and I was stoked at the idea of playing this version, which was weird because at that time, I hadn’t even played the first one.

(sorry this one is long, just skip through it to see things. It was the best looking footage I could find.)

SO WHAT HAPPENED?

During development of the game, Producer Shinji Mikami and director Hideki Kamiya would often have disagreements about, well everything, from the plot, the design, the setting, the characters, what coffee to drink at work, everything. Eventually, Mikami took a step back into an overseeing role and only demanded to be shown the current build once a month.  He believed that the assets of the game were good individually, but not yet satisfactory as a whole, and in 3 months time, everything would come together for the projected May 1997 release.  Not long after, however, he scrapped the whole version at around 60-80%, saying the desired quality would not be reached by that time, and the locations and the game play were “dull and boring”. Changes were eventually made into the version we got today.  To promote the sequel and apologize for the belated release, Resident Evil Director’s Cut was released with a demo disc for Resident Evil 2.

  1. Star Fox 2

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Star Fox is something of a simple, yet classic series, one that Nintendo, much like Square above, seems to have no interest in continuing. It’s been close to a decade since the last full release, when Star Fox Assault was released on the Gamecube. Nintendo has done this before, with series like Punch out, but here it’s a little boggling.

It’s not clear when Star Fox 2 entered development, but it was scheduled to be released in the summer of 1995.  It would have used a more advance 3D game engine thanks to a new improved version of the Super FX chip. The game was going to be very different from the original, instead of following mostly linear paths in predefined missions; you control a team of 2 ships that freely move around the map that represents the Lylat system. When you make contact with a enemy, the game switches to an action perspective, playing very similar to Star Fox, then back to the map. The objective is to protect Corneria from damage, either from Inter-planetary ballistic missile or enemy fighters.  It’s like some awesome sounding mix of Risk, real time strategy, and arcade style shooting action, giving the player tons of options in what to do and how you do it, with 6 playable characters, the entire Star fox team and 2 new recruits, as you defend Corneria from Andross, who is a trying to take over the galaxy, because he likes to do that..   Sounds awesome, right?

The game was canceled despite being ready to ship.

SO WHAT HAPPENED?

This one defies a lot of logic, at least to me.  I don’t understand why this game was never released, or ported, or something. There has never been an official reason for it, but the theory goes that Miyamoto and Nintendo wanted to focus on making Star fox on the most up to date system available. Being that the Nintendo 64 was out not long after (or supposed to be at least) it was decided to scrap this project entirely  and begin work on Star Fox 64. Again, this game was complete. This game was finished.  Why not release it, and then take your team to Star Fox 64? Normally, I’m OK with a company scrapping an idea to give them more time to polish it, but there comes a point when you just have to release it, and I feel this is one of those times. Many of the ideas were used in the DS game Star Fox Command, but it’s not the same game.   If you’re interested in seeing this version, you can in fact play it, however. A ROM was released and eventually translated to English by fans, so at least there is something.

Still, it would have been nice. I think that’s the theme on this one, it would have been nice.


Top 5 games of 2013!

Its right around that time again. 2013 has come to an end. The year as a whole I think can be describe as looking to the future, as it seemed from very early on, everyone had their eyes turned to Microsoft and Sony to show us the future.  Yet I do feel some great games were released in 2013. While I did not sadly get a chance to play everything this year, these are the top 5 best of what I did get a chance to play.

Honorable Mentions.

Assassin’s Creed 4:Black Flag, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Monaco, Pokémon X and Y,  Legend of Zelda A link between worlds, Tales of Xillia, Puppeteer,  Long Live the Queen, Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon

5. Ni No KuniImage

Every now again; a real gem comes along and surprises you, a RPG that is both simple and effective, that has well written characters, simple concepts, and enjoyable combat. Ni No Kuni was that gem, and was the last game I can truly remember waiting to play. It certainly hit a vein of childlike wonder.  With visual designs and cinematic from Studio Gibli and a deep and rewarding RPG system with a dash of Pokémon, it’s not hard to see why this game struck a chord.   It’s also just plain fun, as the systems at first seem complicated, but in truth is actually very simple to understand. It certainly felt like a return to the simple format of 16 bit era RPGS and ya know sometimes that can be a good thing.

4. Shin Megami Tensei 4Image

2013 was the year of portable gaming. So many excellent titles were released, and many of them available for less than the $60 average. SMT 4 may have been full priced, but that takes nothing away from this excellent RPG. Not only does it come with a guide and a fairly solid soundtrack, it lives up to the SMT standard by being tough as nails, but never tough enough that you want to stop playing. The game is always pushing you forward, as you try desperately to take down that next boss.  It’s the right kind of challenge. Visually the game is also well done, with unique character art and memorable Persona designs, even if most of the designs are rather old. The story is also very well told, despite starting on the slow side. I do wonder why this was released on the 3ds as opposed to a home console, but being portable does not hurt it, only your 3ds battery.

3. Dragon’s Crown.Image

This game was turning heads long before its release, mostly through the art direction. Well, in particular, the sorceresses design. But, if you look past that, Atlus delivers a surprisingly deep and visually stunning RPG/ Beat em up.  Gameplay is a tad on the repetitive side, given its nature,  but Dragon’s Crown pulls no punches by making this game increasingly difficult, yet still completely fair, a tough thing to do properly.   The RPG elements of gearing your chosen character and building up their skills  just right rivals some of the best dungeon crawlers out there, as you will often push yourself forward hoping for better gear to drop.  And of course, the visuals are amazing. Vanillaware is known for their unique visual presentation and Dragon’s crown more than holds up with unique character models, monster designs, spell effects, stages and the bosses. Despite how varied and a little crazy the designs are, nothing feels out of place.  The only real downside for me is that the game allows you to transfer saves between the PS3 and Vita versions of the game, but there is no option for cross buying both in a bundle of some kind, and that’s really a small gripe when you think about it.  This game was everything I was hoping Chronicles of Mystara would be, and then some.

2. Bioshock InfiniteImage

Do I have to say anymore? I do? Ok.  A great story, with a perfect beginning, middle, and a fantastic end that is willing to touch on subjects games rarely do, Infinite is a stand out experience, that in some ways rivals the original Bioshock. Despite the fact the game is primarily an escort mission; Elizabeth never gets in the way and proves to be very helpful rather than annoying.  The game also boasts some beautiful visuals, tied mostly together with the creative way Columbia is a blend of both the real and the fantastical.  Really, the only thing keeping it from number 1 is small issues tied to gameplay, such as no showdown with the Songbird, something the game teases constantly. The vigor’s at times feel rather useless, unless you’re playing through on the highest difficulty and the little use of the game’s more interesting mechanics, like the skyline and trans-dimensional warping of objects Elizabeth can do. Infinite is a fantastic experience in gaming, but it comes up just shy to my #1.

1. The last of Us Image

This game will probably be on many people’s list this year, and it’s very easy to see why. I can’t think of a game this year that was more impactful, nor a story that was better told than Last of Us.  The world and characters is easily the best thing about it, as every character feels real, Joel in particular. Despite being against him by the game’s end, in all truth I probably would have made the exact same choice he did. Something about Joel and his travels through a post apocalyptic world really struck a chord with me.   The concept of exploring for scraps and fighting with your supplies in mind is a delicate balance to maintain, but it truly brings out tense moments not seen in a long time in gaming. It trains you to not want to fight at every turn and explore your options. The moments you do have to fight are a little forced, but they do retain that tense nature. Multiplayer is fun in spurts, and is a unique distraction from the common shooters that were released this year, focusing more on stealth rather than brute force.  Last of us was truly a memorable experience, and another notch on Naughty Dog’s belt, a rare feat for a game company to have more hits than misses.