The following will be a brief history on how video games have been an integral part of my life. So if you're not interested just skip to the next half of the blog post.
I have been a late bloomer when it comes to playing video games as I started playing on 1997 and did not experience gaming before the NES. I first found passion in video games at a time where many iterations of the NES were floating around in the market like the Megajoy.
It's an all-in-one plug and play NES with over a thousand of repeating names of several games. I sure played the heck out of that knock-off from Gradius to Adventure Island and of course Super Mario Bros. Then my passion for games burned further because of the PlayStation which I bought over the Dreamcast which I luckily did considering the dearth of games for it and also I was eight back then so I did not really know much about hardware and stuff so I picked the console which I played already. It was a magical time for me. I played through every game on the Playstation Demo Disc and never looked back. Oh the joy of seeing Metal Gear Solid in all its 3D polygonal glory and the grand adventure that is Brave Fencer Musashi, it made my heart soar. Having my cousins come over every Friday to play Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style and Tekken 3 among others is just something we cannot do anymore with all the busywork of being in college/work. I wish I could go back in time when I was severely impressionable even the worst of games like The Fifth Element, Ian Livingstone's Deathtrap Dungeon and Alundra 2 amaze me (the latter-most IMO still holds up pretty well).
I've played a ton of games for the Playstation but only managed to see a handful of endings due to my short attention span and who could blame me? I was eight I did not really care for the endings that much. I just needed to play the games. But that changed as I grew older and was introduced to my first PC. The day my PC arrived my Playstation broke down as if it's self-aware that I somehow found a new source of entertainment and knows that it can finally rest easy. The PC included popular games like Battle Realms, StarCraft, Counter-Strike and NBA Live 2003. But my love for consoles did not go away so I found a way to play Playstation games on my PC and I finally managed to complete some games that I missed the first time around. My parents also bought me a PlayStation 2 as a birthday gift and I couldn't be more pleased. The first game that I'm interested in playing that time was Final Fantasy X as I've heard plenty of praises from my friends who already own one and boy it did not disappoint. By then I started digging deep in the Playstation 2 library (a benefit of adopting a console on its mid-cycle) and found games like Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga, Viewtiful Joe and Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction all of which blew my mind at varying degrees. It was clear to me then and there that video games will forever be a part of my life. I love video games and I love gaming. There's so much potential in this medium and so many things that has yet to be explored. Each console generation presents new and exciting possibilities. Being a part of the grand community of gamers around the world (especially of Giant Bomb) is astounding. Knowing that there are people who has the same passion as mine makes me feel great.
Play These Games
As I have established above I've been playing video games for at least a decade now and in that span of time I kept track of what I know I played to completion and it's around 180 games. Among those are games I want people to experience just because.
I'm not big with reviewing games. This will only serve as a short overview of good old games that I feel haven't got enough exposure and convince people to try them out. Ladies and Gents with utmost humility I present to you games you have to try out before kicking the bucket.
Koudelka is one gem of a game. It's about the story of Koudelka Iasant eponymous to the game title itself. A gypsy with supernatural powers, Koudelka's journey takes place in Wales, England and beyond to heed a voice of a ghost. Shortly after her arrival she'll meet Edward Plunkett and James O' Flaherty who have different motivations for coming to the said place but will inevitably team up with Koudelka in unraveling the mystery of the place. The three of them will be the party for the entire game and their relationship and interaction is essential to the development of the story.
Koudelka is your typical JRPG with a few exceptions. It has competent grid/tile turn-based combat system as you would expect from such games. Weapons and (armor?) break so there's some deal of strategy on what to equip on certain occasions. You can also change equipment inside combat. Random encounters (that you know and love) are also in this game. A little bit of grinding is also required at certain points in the game as the boss fights are beautiful but brutal. It also has amazing cutscenes for its time and also voice acting. When it's all said and done mechanically this game is a fairly standard JRPG. However what sets this game apart from other JRPGs of that time is the story and atmosphere of the game. The vision really adds up to this Gothic title. The monster design is eerie and messed up just as it should be. The design of the place is really dark and grim conveying an unsettling vibe throughout the game including deserted cathedrals, gardens and graveyards. NPCs are scarce and appropriately weird or mysterious. the healing items are limited early on, there are surprise encounters when picking up certain items and all other little things that make up the overall Gothic tone of the game. In spite all this Koudelka is not a scary game and is fairly accessible even if you are not a fan of JRPG.
Play this game if you want a different story and vibe on your JRPG. Just be prepared for the tropes that goes along with it. If you are still not convinced please also consider that Koudelka is one sexy heroine and you wouldn't want to miss her journey unfold before your very eyes (that last statement might be overselling this game a bit but whatever).
If you are familiar with the Deception series then Trapt is more of the same game with only a different protagonist. However for those vast majority of the readers who aren't aware of the existence of such series let me enlighten you. Deception is Home Alone on steroids. It's brutal, sadistic and fun.
The gist of every game of the series so far is this: You control a fairly fragile female protagonist who has the power/curse to set traps around the house to kill her pursuers who want to gain her powers. Kill everyone who wants to kill you by casting falling rocks over them or by letting a bear trap bleed them dry. That's about the objecitve of the game. What it lacks in objective variety however it makes up for its elaborate set of traps.
There are 3 major types of traps: wall trap, ceiling trap, and floor trap. Furthermore there are also built-in traps within the house encouraging players to get creative in setting their traps and netting combos. For example a successful pendulum hit can hurl an enemy in a built in electical wall and so on. Pulling off a combo can be quite satisfying and it also rewards more points which can be used to upgrade current traps and research new traps before every levels begin.
Early on you will encounter unwitting peasants desperate for money and such other weak characters. The game ramps up the challenge on every level by adding more AI enemies with varied skills into the mix such as bounty hunters/hired killers. However overall the AI in this game is either dumb or cheap or sometimes both. But on the game's defense I can't think of any way to hit an enemy if they can always avoid the traps that I've set so overall the dumb AI somehow works for this game.
This game (or series) you must play just for the sheer uniqueness of the gameplay. There is nothing else like this on the market. If you can get past the AI this game can be an intense, thrilling and fun ride as you slay your enemies with a press of a button and see your power grow alongside the fatal combos you're planning for the next unwitting house guest who wants to murder you.
There you go two games I want to broadcast. I will have another entry next time as I plan to make this a blog series.
P.S: All of the games I mentioned in the article supposedly has a hyperlink but something happened it got messed up.