Sunday, February 7, 2016

Press Start: Top Five Redeemed Games

All pictures are from Wikipedia.

They say that all people deserve second chances, and given my experiences as a gamer, I think it can be applied to video games. Sometimes when a game rubs me the wrong way, I tend to abandon it, but when I revisit it, my opinions of it change for the better. Sometimes it could be because of disappointment, going in with bad faith, or just expecting something different than what the game offers. These five games are games that, upon revisiting, were truly great experiences that deserved my praise the first time around. Let’s get started.

#5- Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales

Growing up, I played more Final Fantasy spinoffs than actual Final Fantasy games. I remember loving Tactics Advance, but two games I don’t remember enjoying was Tactics Advance 2 and Chocobo Tales. I have no plans to revisit the former, given how I remembered it as truly bad, but I gave Chocobo Tales a second shot. Instead of being as average as I remember, it turned out to be quite good.

Chocobo Tales is basically a Mario Party game with a Final Fantasy skin, but it stands out to me for several reasons. For one, the minigames utilize a pop-up book style that makes the game very pleasant to look at. The minigames themselves are fun and engaging at the best of times and just boring at the worst. The game also comes packing a card battle minigame, which in my opinion is the true star of this game due to its animations, strategy, and oddly addicting deck building system. And of course, this game is cute beyond words. This game may be a minigame collection, but it's a damn good one with a lot of polish and heart.

#4- InFamous

InFamous has on my “to play” list for a long time, and as soon as I got a PS3, I tried to get my hands on it. I was interested to see what Sucker Punch could do outside of Sly Cooper. At first it struck me as an edgy and clunky superhero game, but after it some time, I found that it was an edgy and solid superhero game.

InFamous is rough around the edges. The combat isn’t that engaging, the world tries far too hard to be dark and edgy, and it takes a while to get enough powers to make the game interesting. But despite this, I’m glad I gave this game a second chance. Traversing the city, especially when you get new powers, is always a blast. Cole can actually be an interesting character sometimes, and the story is surprisingly strong. While battles with basic enemy grunts can be repetitive, battles with stronger enemies can be intense and engaging, and the boss battles can be fantastic. While not as strong as Sly 2, Sucker Punch delivered a solid first entry in a likewise solid series.

#3- Bioshock Infinite

I didn’t get far into the first Bioshock. True, it was a visually masterpiece, and was very atmospheric, but the gameplay was not engaging enough for me to explore the otherwise fascinating city of Rapture. I gave the series another chance with the latest game in the series, and I was hooked.

Bioshock Infinite has all the strong points of the original Bioshock: an atmospheric and fascinating world, a great story, and absolutely beautiful graphics. However, what really got me hooked on Infinite was the gameplay. The gunplay this time around was far more engaging and challenging, and the spells you learn feel far more important in combat than in the originals. Add in elements like the skyhook and Elizabeth’s ability to open rifts, and you have an amazing package. I know actual fans of Bioshock might have issue with Infinite, as it’s more action oriented than the others, but for me it made all the difference.

#2- Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver

I’ve said previously that Gen 2 was my least favorite generation of Pokemon. When I made this statement, I was basing this off my experiences with HeartGold/SoulSilver, which didn’t make a good first impression with me. After playing HeartGold again, I take it back. In fact, HeartGold is one of the stronger Pokemon games out there.

The core gameplay of HeartGold is the same as most Pokemon games, but the fundamentals here are especially strong. Johto’s regional catalogue of Pokemon is pretty good, and carries a strong sense of nostalgia. The boss fights, while not terribly challenging, can still be entertaining, and can offer a true sense of progression. The environments are charming and pleasing to look at. But most importantly, it’s fun in that classic Pokemon sense. HeartGold is this high up not only because it's a strong Pokemon game, but because it really overcame the terrible first impression it made on me.

Oh, and for the none of you that care, Gen 6 is shaping up to be my least favorite generation.

#1- Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon

Very few games left as terrible a first impression as Shadow Dragon. As a fan of Fire Emblem, it felt very underwhelming, and it lacked things that drew me to the series in the first place. Over time, however, my opinion on it has evolved to the extent that now I think it’s one of the strongest Fire Emblems.

Yes, Shadow Dragon has its share of flaws, mainly in terms of the overabundance of units and how only Marth can visit villages. However, the core of what makes Fire Emblem great is there. It has engaging and thought provoking maps, as well as great fantasy world with political intrigue. The core combat and strategy is as strong as ever, and every move counts, especially if you want to recruit all playable units. It also deserves props for introducing reclassing to the series, and for implementing it in a way that doesn’t break the game. Shadow Dragon is becoming one of my favorite DS games, and I can think of no other game that I’m glad I gave a second chance.

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