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Ten Last Generation Games That Everyone Should Have Played But Didn’t
Since Christmas time is upon us and many of you may not be embracing a next-gen console yet, this might be the perfect opportunity to try out games on the PS3/Xbox 360/Wii/PSP/DS that you may have overlooked in favor of the bigger titles. Games for these consoles are all pretty easy to get for someone on a budget and catching up on titles that not only never got their moment in the sun, but fun and amazing examples of what the industry could do is something that the holidays are a perfect time for. While there are plenty of these lists floating around the web, I’m hoping that the net of games is large enough that top ten picks will intrigue. Also I want to note ahead of time that Ni No Kuni and Heavenly Sword will not be making this list, because as much as I adore those games, they both did pretty well upon their releases, captured a following, and were well received by critics. This list is for games that if I mentioned the names people would look at me with a blank stare. I’m talking about games that got no recognition whatsoever. Although if you haven’t played either Ni No Kuni or Heavenly Sword then I highly recommend that you go out and play them. So with that out of the way, here it is officially my ten games that you may have missed but should have played during the last gen: 10. Lost Odyssey (Xbox 360)
In 2008 Microsoft released this ode to the JRPG as a means to not only attract the Japanese audience (who have never really embraced Xbox/Xbox 360), and Western gamers who stayed with PlayStation because of the easier access to Japanese games. Lost Odyssey was part of a pair of games that were developed by Hironobu Sakaguchi of Final Fantasy fame. And while the game was well received by the critics, Xbox 360 owners didn’t really embrace it or its brother Blue Dragon. Which is a shame as Lost Odyssey was one of the best JRPG’s to ever be released on the 360 with a great story, an amazing take on the turn-based combat system, and very interesting characters. It was a love letter to everything JRPG fans loved about the genre and in some ways the Final Fantasy game that fans have been craving for years.
9. Valkyria Chronicles (PS3)
Another 2008 releases that no one played, largely ignored in the West and even in Japan, this was one of the best JRPG’s that I’ve ever played on the PS3 that no one else had ever heard of. An incredibly beautiful game that had a great combination of both strategy and action, Valkyria Chronicles sucked me in. It also has an amazing soundtrack which I still listen to, a great plot, and most importantly for me, a lot of replay value.
8. Eternal Sonata (Xbox 360, PS3)
One of the most interesting RPG’s that I have ever had the pleasure of playing, Eternal Sonata was set in Polish composer Chopin’s dreams as he’s lying on his deathbed. An adventure that revels in it’s musical elements (which are present during both battle and exploration), Eternal Sonata was an original and inspired game that gloried in its theme and used dark and light elements in creative ways. Unfortunately in it’s in 2007(Xbox 360)/2008(PS3) release it was largely ignored by gamers but praised highly by critics. Maybe it’s time to check out what they were raving about.
7. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (PSP, Nintendo DS)
First let me say that this is not a list that discriminates between handheld and portable titles, and we were due for a change of pace. Of course having a GTA game here probably doesn’t make any sense when we look at the console sales. But would I be surprising you when I said that Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars not only sold very poorly on the DS but also didn’t capture any attention on the PSP? Attention that it richly deserved because it was one of the best DS games that I have ever played. It brought everything that you love about Grand Theft Auto to the portable market but for some reason handheld gamers just didn’t bite.
6. Link’s Crossbow Training (Wii)
Okay before you completely write this pick and me off let me just say that I was as surprised as you when it made it but hear me out. Yes this was a cash grab that was shamelessly using the Zelda franchise’s reputation to get us to buy the Wii Zapper, however I still really enjoy this game. This 2007 release was surprisingly addicting. True it’s basically a collection of shooting gallery games, but it looks great, being inspired by Twilight Princess and you’d be surprised at how responsive the controls are. There are hidden bonuses in each area that give it a lot of replay value and the game is truly challenging in a fun way. If the game had any real flaws it was that it was just too short. Somehow Link brought quality to what could have been just another shovelware title.
5. Culdcept Saga (Xbox 360)
Okay again, give me the benefit of the doubt. I too, was pretty incredulous when it came to Culdcept Saga when it was first described to me way back in 2008. Another title on the Xbox 360 that was meant to attract the fantasy gamer (traditionally Sony fans), this game did not do very well. Here’s the gist: Culdcept Saga is a fantasy take on Monopoly where you protect your squares by summoning monsters to fight enemies in trading card battles. Honestly it just seemed like playing Yu-Gi-Oh/Pokemon/Magic the Gathering except on the console, however you’d be wrong not to give it a college try.
Culcept Saga is incredibly addictive when you give it a chance as the matches are incredibly tense with simple to understand gameplay that is much deeper than one would expect. Once you learn how to customize your deck there isn’t an opponent (including the challenging AI) that you can’t take on.
4. MadWorld (Wii)
If there is one complaint that I have constantly heard ‘hardcore’ gamers hurl Nintendo’s way it’s that their systems don’t have “real” games. That the fact Nintendo isn’t churning out gritty, depressing, violent, and frankly at times incredibly immature blood filled content somehow makes them less than when it comes to Sony and Microsoft. Well here was a stylish, violent beat’em-up from Sega that had everything those gamers could want yet all on the Wii back in 2009. Unfortunately, it had some very unimpressive sales which is a shame because MadWorld was an incredible game that reminded me a lot of the fare that we see from Suda 51. If that’s what you’re into then I highly recommend you check it out.
3. Blue Dragon (Xbox 360)
I don’t know why but when Hironobu Sakaguchi moved to developing games for the Xbox 360. It’s like all his cred and magic left him in the eyes of gamers. This is the man who created and helped develop Final Fantasy, Super Mario RPG, Xenogears, Parasite Eve, and arguably the best RPG to ever have been made in Chrono Trigger. He is second only to Shigeru Miyamoto himself on my list of gaming legends. But for some reason RPG fans have forgotten him because when Blue Dragon was released in 2007, it sold very poorly like its brother Lost Odyssey. Sakaguchi himself didn’t go on to have a real hit until he created Mistwalker Corporation, who brought us one of the best games on the Wii, The Last Story.
Blue Dragon had everything that we loved about JRPG’s in its forumla. It took me back to the first time that I ever played Chrono Trigger. It was the old-school epic with the great heroes, the menacing villains, the visuals, and the music can we talk about the music. It’s everything that we love about the genre except for the fact that the only way you could play it was on the Xbox 360. You owe yourself and Sakaguchi to go out and play this game.
2. Kirby: Canvas Curse (DS)
This is hands down, the best Kirby game to ever grace the DS with it’s presence. It’s just unfortunate that the sales don’t reflect that. Canvas Curse was a great game with high replay value that took real risks with what the conventional DS game was in 2005. It was incredibly innovative, as you didn’t control Kirby but you did guide him by tracing your stylus. Challenging, addicting, fun, with great music, and cool visuals this was a game whose timing by being on of the first DS games released hurt it more than anything else.
1. Deadly Creatures (Wii)
That’s right the last game on my list is going to be another Wii game but again this is a game that had everything that ‘hardcore’ gamers wanted from Nintendo. It had imagination, originality, danger, and brutality and yet because it was on the Wii it was largely ignored.
In Deadly Creatures, a 2009 title, players went through the game as both a scorpion and tarantula while they battled giant lizards, beetles, and rattlesnakes to survive. The miniature world was lovely to look at with everything we expected from the modern world populating it from doll heads that gave shelter to the humans who could kill you with a footstep if you didn’t watch out. But Nintendo fans weren’t paying attention and the casual Wii owners weren’t interested.
And that’s it my ten picks for the last gen, but of course you may disagree with some of my choices. If there are games that you thought deserved to be here then feel free to comment and add your selections. Until then I have some bargain bins to pick through.