Operation Backlog Completion 2017

Nov 302015
 

That’s right, it’s time for round 3 already of GameFaqs’ “Best. Game. Ever.” poll tournament. From the original 128 games on the list, several of my favorites lost in Round 1 (alas, poor Ace Attorney), and more fell away in Round 2.

But a lot of great games are still in the running, so here are my personal picks for Round 3!

Note: at the time I wrote this, the first match was already completed.

Gamefaqs Best Game Ever

Division I

Chrono Trigger vs. Final Fantasy X – As an RPG fan, I’m delighted to see how many RPGs have made it this far. This was an easy choice for me, as I simply consider Chrono Trigger the better game.

Super Smash Bros. Melee vs. Kingdom Hearts II – I tentatively cast my vote for Kingdom Hearts II, as I loved Kingdom Hearts and have a good appreciation for Chain of Memories so far, but I wasn’t too surprised to see it lose to Smash.

Division II

Final Fantasy VI vs. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker – Oof. Another painful match-up. I love both of these games. But while Wind Waker will always be special to me, it doesn’t have the same magic as Final Fantasy VI.

*still hoping they don't mess up the remake*

*still hoping they don’t mess up the remake*

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U vs. Final Fantasy VII – After my past votes this round, it should be no surprise that my vote here goes to Final Fantasy VII.

Division III

Pokémon Red/Blue vs. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – I’m not really a Sonic fan, so I have no regrets in saying I’ll vote for Pokémon Red/Blue in this match.

Undertale vs. Super Mario World – To be honest, I’m amazed Undertale made it this far. Sure I love it, but it’s not exactly mainstream. And up against a classic like Super Mario World… I’ll still cast a vote for Undertale, but I won’t be surprised if this is where it falls away.

(And I swear I’ll have a review ready soon.)

Division IV

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim vs. Metroid Prime – Skyrim has never interested in me, and I intend to play Metroid Prime in the future. So in a rare case where I’m voting against an RPG, I hope Metroid Prime wins.

Super Mario 64 vs. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess – This is a tricky one. My memories of Super Mario 64 are better, but possibly tainted by nostalgia. My memories of Twilight Princess are more recent, but not as good. For its role in video game history, Super Mario 64 has my vote.

Division V

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time vs. Final Fantasy IX – Is this the round where I vote against Zelda games? Although I enjoyed my time with Ocarina of Time, it doesn’t compare to my enjoyment of that great JRPG, Final Fantasy IX.

Donkey Kong Country 2 vs. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night – Despite my sorrow that SotN knocked Banjo-Kazooie out of the running, I prefer its gameplay style to that of DK Country 2. My vote goes to Symphony of the Night.

Division VI

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past vs. Dark Souls – I’ve never been able to complete A Link to the Past, and I’ve never played Dark Souls. I have an appreciation of both games, but… yes, it looks like I will have to abstain.

Soon...

Soon…

Super Metroid vs. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask – Two in a row? I’ve heard good things about both of these games, but I’ve yet to play either. It looks like I’ll abstain from voting here as well…

Division VII

Super Mario RPG vs. Chrono Cross – Tricky, tricky… two RPGs I haven’t played… I predict Super Mario RPG will win this round, but I myself will withhold my vote again.

Metal Gear Solid 2 vs. Resident Evil 4 – I’m still voting against Resident Evil 4. I vote for Metal Gear Solid 2!

Division VIII

Metal Gear Solid vs. Shadow of the Colossus – It saddens me that EarthBound didn’t make it this far, because I would have voted for it over Shadow of the Colossus. In this match, I think I’ll vote for Metal Gear Solid for its story’s sake, though I have yet to play Shadow of the Colossus.

Metal Gear Solid 3 vs. Mass Effect 2 – Wow, there’s a lot of MGS on this list. Since I played and enjoyed Mass Effect 2, it’s my pick for this one… but I won’t be heartbroken if it loses, either.

What a strange Round 3 this turned out to be. At the start, I thought I wouldn’t have to go undecided for any this time, until I reached those last few.

The standings are curious, with some favorites I’d love to see win alongside games I have no interest in. Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing Final Fantasy VI go all the way to the end!

Which games will you vote for in Round 3 of GameFaqs’ “Best. Game. Ever.” contest?

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Nov 272015
 

Updated for Cyber Monday: Amazon is having a 15% off sale on select new releases and pre-orders, which means you can get games like Kingdom Hearts III with a discount. One-day only, go quickly!

Black-Friday-game-deals

Avoid the Black Friday madness and still get some great video game deals!

Amid the chaos of all the other Black Friday/Cyber Monday video game ads you’ve probably seen, I decided to narrow mine down by focusing on three major points:

  • They are on sale (obviously)
  • You can buy them online
  • I recommend them

Consoles

I don’t have all of these consoles yet, but I’ll get them eventually.

Wii U

While it isn’t priced as cheaply as the in-store sales, the best Wii U deal is the Smash/Splatoon bundle selling for $279.99 at Toys R Us. (It currently appears to be ship-to-store only.)

If the Super Smash Bros. and Splatoon bundle doesn’t interest you, the next best online deals are:

  • Mario Kart 8 Bundle – $299.00 at Amazon
  • Mario Maker Bundle – $299.96 at Walmart

PS4

To me, the PS4 has more to offer in terms of upcoming games rather than current releases, but if you’re ready to move on to Sony’s next console, the best offer I’ve seen is the 500 GB PS4 bundled with a physical copy of the Nathan Drake Collection, $299.00 on Amazon.

(The Amazon page also includes bundles with the Nathan Drake Collection + Fallout 4 or Star Wars: Battlefront for $358.88.)

Xbox One

The Xbox One seems to have the best bundle deals this year, with the best deals coming straight from the Microsoft Store.

  • 500 GB Gears of War: Ultimate Edition bundle + a $60 gift code and a free game for $299.00 at Microsoft
  • 1 TB Holiday Bundle (Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Rare Replay, & Ori and the Blind Forest) + a $60 gift code and a free game for $349.00 at Microsoft

I find the holiday bundle the most alluring, because Rare Replay includes 30 Rare games (including some of my favorites, like Banjo-Kazooie) and Ori is supposed to be very good.

Also, if you play Gears online before the end of the year, you get the Xbox 360 Gears of War games for free, so that bundle potentially comes with even more games.

The $60 gift code + free game offer applies to every bundle sold at the Microsoft Store, although the free game options appear to be only Sunset Overdrive and Rare Replay. (I don’t understand why you’d want a free copy of Rare Replay with the bundle that includes Rare Replay.)

If you don’t want to buy straight from Microsoft, you can also find these consoles at Amazon, but without the bonus offers:

  • 500 GB Gears of War: Ultimate Edition Bundle for $299.00 at Amazon
  • 1 TB Holiday Bundle (Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Rare Replay, & Ori and the Blind Forest) for $349.00 at Amazon.

3DS

I love my Nintendo 3DS, but if you don’t have one or need to replace yours, the best deals seem to be the New Nintendo 3DS for $179.99 at Amazon (limited time) and the Nintendo 2DS for $79.00 at Walmart.

PS Vita

PlayStation Vita deals are harder to find than the rest, probably because many people have forgotten about it. The best one I’ve found is this sale on Ebay: a PS Vita Slim for $154.99 with free shipping.

Know of any more good console deals? Share them in the comments!

Square Enix

Before we move on to discuss specific recommended games, I want to recommend Square Enix’s entire store.

While most stores have the Black Friday video game deals you might expect, Square Enix cut prices on just about everything, including physical copies of old games. Many of them are sold out now, but if you add your name to the waiting list, you might be able to get great deals like Chrono Cross for $4.50.

If my review of Kingdom Hearts interested you, the 1.5 Remix is only $8.00 from Square Enix.

The SE Store has $8 shipping, so take that into consideration when checking on deals.

Recommended Games

All right, now it’s time to look at the best deals on games I personally enjoy, recommend, and maybe even reviewed.

  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy – $20.09 at the Nintendo eShop
  • Psychonauts – $0.99 at Steam
  • Hatoful Boyfriend – $2.49 for the PC version at Steam, or $5.00 for the PS4/Vita version at PSN plus an additional 10% off your PSN order with the code FH24P5BDR6
  • Kingdom Hearts 1.5 Remix – $8.00 at Square Enix
  • Alien: Isolation – $12.49 at Steam
  • The Witcher Adventure Game – $2.99 at GOG.com
  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent – $4.99 at Steam
  • Dragon Age: Origins – $7.49 at Steam
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition – $14.99 at Origin
  • Cthulhu Saves the World & Breath of Death VII – $0.50 at Steam

Books

Finally, Amazon is having a special promotion where you can get 30% off the price of a book.

This is your chance to get a good deal on one of the books I’ve recommended here before, like the Witcher novels or Poison Study.

There are a lot of deals out there today, and I’m bound to have missed some. What are the best online Black Friday/Cyber Monday video game sales you’ve found this year?

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Nov 252015
 

Dragon-Age-InquisitionLast week, after 118 hours of gameplay, I finished Dragon Age: Inquisition.

I went into Inquisition feeling conflicted. While Dragon Age: Origins was one of the best games I played, I had mixed feelings toward its sequel, and Inquisition was open world, not my preferred style.

Since I played it for over 100 hours, you’d think I’d be 100% in favor of Inquisition. And I did enjoy it. Dragon Age: Inquisition is a good game.

Nevertheless, I left it feeling decidedly conflicted.

Inquisition splits its open world into several large regions, rather than a single connected world. In theory, this makes it more appealing to me. There were distinct areas to explore.

However, the majority of those areas mean nothing to the overall plot. There’s a plot tie-in to get you there, but the main quest quietly waits in another area while you complete sidequests that ultimately feeling meaningless. You get power and influence, yes, but the quests felt more like a series of objectives to complete for completion’s sake, rather than part of my struggle to save the world.

In Dragon Age: Origins, your plot quest was usually in a large area with a variety of sidequests you could also pick up. Dragon Age 2 put everything in a single city and its surroundings. But Inquisition keeps the sidequests so separate from the main quest, they almost feel like two different games.

A few areas did it right. The Western Approach, for example, was a wide open area with a plot quest within it. I explored and did sidequests on my way to and from the plot event. It worked. I enjoyed it. But most of the game is not like that.

But Inquisition really wanted to focus on exploring its open world, so a lot of game content lies there… which makes its main story not only feel separate, but somewhat weak. I enjoyed its plot points, but there was so much nothing in between them, the pacing felt stilted. I was shocked to reach the end, because it felt like it came too quickly despite 100+ hours of gameplay.

On a more minor note, I have some criticisms of the character creator. Xenoblade Chronicles X is under fire because you can’t make your character’s chest size identical to yours, but what about Inquisition’s hairstyles?

Origins and DA2 may not have had the greatest hairstyle selection, but why take away half those options? And why are there so many bald/shaved/buzzed options compared to everything else?

And why, when I finally gave my Inquisitor black hair, did it look brown in most scenes? Oh well. Character customization is fun, but it’s not a huge deal.

This is the only time my Inquisitor's hair ever looked black.

This is the only time my Inquisitor’s hair ever looked black.

And the rest of the cast made up for my lackluster Inquisitor.

My party members were phenomenal, and one of my favorite parts of the game. Cassandra, the Seeker from DA2’s frame story, returned and proved to be a quite entertaining character. Iron Bull (the most laid-back qunari you’ll ever meet, and my romance option of choice) and an unusual spirit named Cole joined her as my favorites. The rest of the party also had shining moments (with the possible exception of Blackwall, whom I found rather boring).

You can spend a lot of time in Inquisition just talking to party members, and it was one of the things I liked the most.

On the other hand, my criticisms of the way Dragon Age 2 handled romance remained, and I missed the more organic, natural way of romancing a character that Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect used. I felt as though I simply had to pick a character and choose the right options (helpfully marked with a heart icon) rather than get to know the character and let the relationship develop, like another player explains in more detail.

And despite an ominous start, the main villain disappointed me. After the early portion of the game, I stopped feeling threatened by him. I didn’t feel Origins’ oppressing sense of being up against an unstoppable enemy.

Spoilers for epilogue/Trespasser

The major choices also felt disappointing. Other than the first big choice, whether to side with the mages or templars (in a war which quickly ends, despite Dragon Age 2 setting it up as major plot point), I never felt like I was hard-pressed to make a tough decision.

(Part of this is because of the choices I made in previous games. What could have been a difficult choice at one point instead had me choose between a beloved character I spent hours with and an NPC I barely knew. Emotional impact gone.)

One last criticism, and then I’ll stop complaining. Dragon Age Keep. I knew going into this that choices couldn’t be carried over the same way, but I thought when I imported my Origins/DA2 saves into the Keep, it would register my choices. No, I still had to select them manually.

I thought it would at least import my previous protagonists’ appearances. No, instead of the exciting moment I expected when my Hawke would walk in, Inquisition sent me back to its horrible character creator to attempt to remake her as best I could.

Close enough, but she's not my Hawke.

Close enough, but she’s not my Hawke.

(I also was really disappointed when the Architect didn’t make an appearance in Inquisition. I waited through all of DA2 for him and thought this was his time to return!)

After all this, it must sound like I disliked Dragon Age: Inquisition. I didn’t. I loved my party members and their interactions. Some banter and scenes made me laugh out loud.

I enjoyed exploring the world, even if its lack of relevance to the plot eventually made me tire of it. Despite the main plot’s flaws, it had some epic moments. And the epilogue’s twist struck me as so brilliant, I only wished the rest of the story lived up to it.

Although it falls far short of Dragon Age: Origins, Inquisition is a good game. In many ways, it’s two okay games. And if they worked together a little more, instead of making Dragon Age: Inquisition feel like it has a split personality, it could have been a great game.

As it is, I recommend Dragon Age: Inquisition with some reservations, and hope the next game learns from its mistakes.


Buy Dragon Age: Inquisition from Amazon
Buy Dragon Age: Inquisition from Play-Asia

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