A look back at the 2006 release, Sonic Riders. A very polarizing things, we look at what the game excelled at, while noting how some of the flaws may have led the game to be overlooked.
Underrated Games That Need A Comeback
While Jason had a very good post last month highlighting some of the popular series that haven’t had a sequel in a while (or ever), I felt the need to shed some light on some cult favorites and near forgotten titles that need some love. Some hit the bargin bin a quite too fast and/or had a bad reception. Some may have just dusted into oblivion before they had a chance. Perhaps one of them got released too close to a Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto. The point is that these titles were fun! Some were even innovative. Whatever the reason for their demise, it is time to light the fire under these forgotten gems. A comeback for the ages! A revival of the lost… arts? Games are art. Right? We got over that argument, didn’t we?
So Capcom got really high on Devil May Cry-styled games and threw up a bunch of them in a span of a couple year. Most of them didn’t do well. Chaos Legion released in 2003 and most people don’t even know it exists. The game features Sieg who can summon supernatural creatures to his side in order to combat the legions of nasties that stand between him and his goal. The game was very Devil May Cry-esque but the summoning brought some originality to the title. It was very basic in execution: kill all the enemies and hit the next stage. However, the story was pretty cool and the setting was very impressive. Sieg was an interesting character to follow and likable enough that I even wanted him in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. See this game in the dust bins and pick it up. It deserves a playthrough and to rescued from obscurity. Capcom needs to revisit this hidden gem.
God Bless The Ring. Ehrgeiz was a weird title released for the PS1 that featured a slew of obscure original fighters and a bunch of characters from Final Fantasy VII. You could easily tell this was nothing but a cash-in trying to tug at the heart-strings of FF7 fans but it was actually pretty cool. Fighting as Sephiroth against Vincent or vise-versa was a fan’s dream come true. It was also the first time we were able to play as Zach Fair; way before Crisis Core. Ehrgeiz’s original cast wasn’t so likable beyond Sasuke and Django, however. Most of the characters came off as rushed and seemingly desperate attempted to fill the roster up to an acceptable number. Most of the time you would find players using the Final Fantasy VII side. Square-Enix has their hands busy with Dissidia but Ehrgeiz could be the perfect series to reboot for us console players.
I always referred to this game as the 3D River City Ransom. A fun beat-em-up game that was featured on the PS1, Fighting Force had four completely forgettable characters and a story that wasn’t important. What was important was the destructible environments, pick-up weapons, various enemy types, and all-around fun combat. Each character had a different way of fighting so the game wasn’t repetitious. The boss fights were fun and actually tough. You have to conserve your available weapons on the map just in case some huge dude with cybernetics in his arms dropped down to say hello. The multiplayer was definitely the highlight of the game. Beating up a ton of enemies with friends is always the way to go if it is available. Fighting Force was the best co-op beat-em-up on PS1.
Boba Fett is a fan favorite in the Star Wars franchise. His father, Jango Fett, was perhaps even more of a badass and the basis for all of the clones. His short screen time was unfortunate but his featured game gave us all we needed. Being in control of the galaxy’s most feared Bounty Hunter made for an awesome game. You had access to all of Jango’s tricks and weapons. While the aiming was a bit weird, flying around with the jetpack, firing rockets, and taking down droids and scum with dual blasters was a hoot. The story was actually pretty interesting but the gameplay took center stage here. The Old Republic era is an expanded universe timeframe (that means: not made by Lucas). I see no reason why Lucasarts or some studio couldn’t expend on Boba’s history using Bounty Hunter 2. Boba survives the Sarlaac Pit in the expanded universe books and goes on to have more adventures. Let’s get him back in the game by having a sequel to one of the coolest Star Wars games.
I played Super Gem Fighters more than Alpha back on the PS1. Gem Fighters was a fun game with back and forth gameplay that kept the players interested in the fight. In addition to trying to whoop your friends’ butts, you had to gather up gems to fuel your special meter in order to pull off big moves and combos. The roster was filled with “chibi” versions of Street Fighter and Darkstalkers characters and each had their familiar movesets. You could even unlock Dan and Akuma for play. Gem Fighters is a really fun getaway from the normal fighting games out there and the roster could be huge in today’s gaming world.
Another beat-em-up game, The Bouncer is a lovable title from the beginning of the PS2 era. The characters are fun and interesting and the story is great to follow. Squaresoft (yeah, this is 2001) put a lot of effort into this game. There was backstory to the characters and the combat was a blast. The worst part is that the game’s story was really short. What made up for that is the multiplayer. You and up to four of your friends could play in the Versus Mode which allowed you to take control of anyone in the game and battle in a straight-up fighting game. Using the multi-tap (did anyone really own one of those?) four people could be put into the battle royal and fight for supremacy. The soundtrack was awesome and every stage was just as intense as the last. There was RPG-like leveling up using Bouncer Points with skills and abilities. The Bouncer was a great game and one that needs a sequel. Same characters, same– oh what the hell just make an HD version of the game so I can play it to oblivion again.
Otogi was Ninja Gaiden before Ninja Gaiden was cool. Er… Yeah, that’s right. Two years before the revamped Ninja Gaiden released on the Xbox, From Software (Demon’s Souls) brought out a highly stylized game in which an assassin caught between life and death was sent back to the world to help save it. The thing is, you’re the reason why it is getting destroyed. You stole a legendary sword that kept the balance between Earth and the demon plane. The game was extremely fun with badass combat. The difficulty was challenging but I wouldn’t put it up at Ninja Gaiden territory. You were able to enjoy Otogi without wanting to break your controller. There were slowdown problems with the framerate which would occasionally get you killed but overal Otogi was a really fun game. There was a sequel that came out in 2003 (still before Ninja Gaiden) that was basically a more refined combat system but also gave players a choice of six characters. I highly recommend playing these two original Xbox games.
A little random for the #3 slot? Thing is From Software’s 3D Dot Game Heroes brought back the old, traditional Zelda feel to consoles. The humorous “voxel” art design gave a really cool HD nostalgia effect that kept me interested. You could create your own voxel character to use as the main character and collect a ton of weapons. Leveling up the weapons increased not only stats but also the size. Some swords could literally fill up the screen and hit everything. They put a nice nod to classic retro games in their loading screens represented by voxel imitations. 3D Dot Game Heroes is a really likable game that has a lot of charm and plenty of replay value. You should be able to get it for cheap at GameStop or Amazon and it is really worth it. I hope they come back to this again and make an even bigger game.
Final Fantasy games ruled the PS1 era. Whatever Squaresoft released with that title was ate up by fans. In fact, any game that Square made back then sold a metric crap ton. There was very little room for titles like Alundra, Vagrant Story, Lunar, Wild Arms, and Xenogears to be successful like that. Hell, Square even made some of those games and they couldn’t even come close to Final Fantasy success. One title, however, made a huge follower and became a big cult hit. Legend of Dragoon, made by Sony Computer Entertainment, was a highly successful RPG back on the PS1 that spanned four discs. The excellent story and characters combined with the interesting combo systems and Dragoon forms made for a fun and challenging game. Fans have clamored for a sequel and have done their best to get the main character, Dart, in competitions for best character or character fights. This is a great game that was bogged down by Final Fantasies and, well, perhaps a kinda tough combo system. Sony could make a killing off a sequel to this game.
This has to be one of the biggest cult hits in gaming. Kojima’s “other” series was a fantastic mech action game featuring slick combat, awesome weapons, and really cool boos fights. The story was pretty cool and towards the latter parts became extremely interesting. While the main character was annoying as hell, the lone sequel took care of that. Zone of the Enders 1 took us through a wild conflict on Mars where a rogue faction was trying to destroy the colony using a “sister” mech to the main character’s. One of the coolest fights in the game is a glimpse of this mech, Anubis. You can’t hit the thing. You are outclassed in every way. You feel completely hopeless and that you will lose this battle. Zone of the Enders 2 continues the story two years later using the same two mechs. These games are amazing in presentation and you can tell that Kojima put everything he had into these games just like Metal Gear. This needs to be continues. Also, make sure the versus mode is back. That made the game even better. Zombie Neith vs. Jehuty.