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Found 6 results

  1. This year saw the opening of a video games exhibit in the museum in the Smithsonian and the promise of one in the Museum of Modern Art next March, as well as a video game whose score was nominated for a friggin“ Grammy. Video game culture is evolving, and the Pangaea that was once the entirety of “video games” has broken off into a number of continents. Point-and-click adventures, top-down arcade bloodbaths, rhythm RPGs – it seems like no genre is off limits in this new, hopeful era of gaming, ruled by passion and creativity. In no particular order, here are some of my personal highlights of what I truly hope is a gaming renaissance. Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy Official GP Review Theatrhythm makes my list not only because it“s an extremely addictive and unique game, combining RPG elements with rhythm-based gameplay in an experience that lasts far longer than the initial run through (I“ve put in over 55 hours so far); I“m also including it because it“s the best Final Fantasy game released in recent memory, a fact that is as sad as it is indicative of the gaming culture shift we are witnessing. Formulaic gameplay might have worked for a while, but with so many creative titles on the market, it wouldn“t be a stretch to say that shallow cookie-cutter sequels (like, ahem, Final Fantasy XIII-2) won“t keep the attention of the new gaming crowd, whose attentions are constantly threatened by a rainbow-like barrage of great new properties. Hotline Miami Official GP Review While larger studios were preoccupied with crafting storylines, characters, special effects, and whatever else in their attempts to distract us from what was often the same old experience, smaller groups have demonstrated a natural talent for proving the adage that "less is more." Hotline Miami, made by a couple of guys and a handful of composers, has you infiltrating buildings and strategically wasting goons in short bursts (by shooting them, throwing pipes at them, or my favorite, knocking them out by timing the opening of doors just right) using only the WASD keys and mouse, in a top-down perspective reminiscent of the first Grand Theft Auto. It“s laughably simple, and yet this game emanates with blood-soaked charm and an arcade-style addictive quality that will keep you entertained far longer than most of the big-budget titles that came out this year. The Walking Dead If there“s anything that represents the point of this list, it“s this: an adventure game based on a popular comic that features a riveting story, multi-dimensional character relationships, and choices that affect the game in ways that range from the subtle to the devastating. More important, though, is that The Walking Dead is possibly revitalizing the entire point-and-click adventure genre, a category that has been pretty much dead itself to the larger gaming populace since the days of Grim Fandango. I don“t know what it means when a low-budget indie game can make this kind of impact on the industry, but it“s surprising, exciting, and likely to inspire a whole new wave of would-be game designers to work with the archaic game genre of their choice. Journey Official GP Review As you traverse through a mountainous desert landscape with your partner – an anonymous online player with whom you can“t communicate save for a wordless shout – you get the sensation an early explorer must have felt after docking his ship at an unknown island for the first time. Stunning landscapes, emotionally-charged co-op gameplay, and an evocative, Grammy-nominated soundtrack all come together to produce something far bigger than the sum of its parts. It seems like an insult to call this a “game.” This is humanity, programmed and interpreted. Borderlands 2 And yet, amidst this paradigm shift into more minimalistic and avant-garde attitudes, there remains the knowledge that a game may not have to do something entirely unprecedented as long as it does a phenomenal job of pulling you into it and keeping you there. Also, that a big budget can still be used to kick entire truckloads of ass. Borderlands 2 isn“t just about the millions of guns you can acquire, or the constant barrage of tasks and rewards, or about the unique, colorful characters or well-written dialogue or the sheer hilarity of playing it for even half an hour. It“s about how all of these things conflate into an unequivocally magnificent experience.
  2. This year I wanted to think a little differently in regards to Game of the Year since I played on different systems more than ever before. I will list my top games, but would actually love to choose one game from each system that I play regularly to make up my top five. I'm going to throw in a few runner-ups as well. Many of these will probably be conventional-ish choices but I chose many of them because they stand out in some way to me that few other games did. Many of them aren't perfect, but provide an experience that is hard to find elsewhere! Anyways, I hope you all enjoy! Nintendo 3DS Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy Official GP Review Two parts rhythm game, one part RPG mix to wonderful effect in Theatrhythm. Even though the musical selection (however incredible) may not be as exciting to non-Final Fantasy fans, the game is no less wonderfully executed. 40 frames-per-second, satisfying lasting appeal, even the unlikely inclusion of local multiplayer and StreetPass make this a 3DS title to remember. Runner-Up: Kid Icarus Uprising Xbox 360 Mass Effect 3 Official GP Review Despite the hullaballoo surrounding the third (numbered) entry into the Mass Effect series, I still feel it deserves praise for its accomplishments. It successfully adds a great co-op multiplayer experience while finding a happy medium in the single player for fans of previous games. The amount of polish and care in all aspects of the game itself bring this series to (me, at least) a very satisfying conclusion. Runner up: Halo 4 Playstation 3 Journey Official GP Review It is impossible to talk about the "Year of the Indies" without mentioning thatgamecompany's Journey. In short, this game is magical in a way that is difficult to describe but easy to understand if you've played it. Even Journey's unique approach to online co-op helps preserve (and even intensify the amazing emotions it conjures up. Everything from the soundtrack to the visuals makes this game stand out even among the best triple-A releases. Runner up: Starhawk Playstation Vita Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward This game has impressed me like few others. On the surface, it is your same old-fashioned visual novel with puzzle gameplay. Apart from a killer story, the game's flowchart menu makes this game easy to navigate and unlocking character endings all the more exciting. Every step you take towards to the true ending (without cheating) makes this game a rewarding, stand-out experience! Runner up: Gravity Rush WildCard (and Overall) Game of the Year Persona 4 Golden Ok, ok, I know. Persona 4 is a game from 2008. Not only did I miss the boat the first time around, this can hardly be called the same game. P4G is amazing from many angles, being a formidable RPG both mechanically and story-wise, but the devil (wakka wakka!) is in the details. The character stories and "non-action" in this game is every bit as compelling as the rest of the game. If all remaining games for the Vita were cancelled and this is the last game I could ever play for the handheld, I'd actually be satisfied my money was well spent. Yes, this game is that good!
  3. Christopher Haygood

    Review: Theatrhythm Final Fantasy

    Developer: Indies zero Publisher: Square Enix Platform: Nintendo 3DS Release Date: Out Now ESRB: E10+ There“s been some debate as to how Square Enix has recently been treating its flagship series, Final Fantasy, these days. As in, whether or not the company is grinding the name into the ground like a stilettoed heel crushing a cigarette butt into the sidewalk. It“s under this massive shadow of doubt that Theatrhythm Final Fantasy has hit the market, so is this bizarre title a mere gimmicky attempt to remind us of Square“s former glory, or…or…well, what is it, really? For starters, it's a rhythm game featuring Final Fantasy music. Now uncock that eyebrow and listen, because it's far cooler than you might be imagining. The game“s music spans the Final Fantasy series from I to XIII, meaning the bulk of it comes from the mind of the brilliant Nobuo Uematsu, with a few choice tracks from other talented composers as well. If you“ve played games like Elite Beat Agents, Theatrhythm“s gameplay won“t feel too foreign: you tap, hold, and slash at the bottom screen to correspond to the symbols on the top screen. Theatrhythm“s gameplay is deeper than that, however. There are three types of stages: Battle Music Stages (BMS) that involve fighting enemies to battle themes, Field Music Stages (FMS), which contain more relaxing world map music, and Event Music Stages (EMS), levels that play cutscene montages from the various games in the background. Each type of stage plays differently and has different goals to complete. You can play all the songs from one game in a row in Series Mode, play specific songs in Challenge Mode, or attempt difficult special stages known as “Dark Notes” in the Chaos Shrine. The game has you pick a party of four characters – title characters from the various games, all of whom have different skills and stats, and all of whom look ridiculously cute – who level up as you complete stages. Theatrhythm“s brilliance lies not so much in its level design but in its usage of these RPG elements. For instance, in every FMS stage, in which the object is to traverse as far across the plains as possible; a character with high agility and luck stats will guarantee that you accumulate more items as you go along, as well as reach farther areas where stronger bosses lie. In the battle sequences, characters with high magic and attack stats will tear through enemies to reach the boss of the stage, and characters with high HP will keep you alive if you start messing up too badly. And it takes more strategy than simply getting four random characters up to level 99. Around midway through the Dark Notes in the Chaos Shrine, you“ll have to choose party members, skills, and items very carefully if you want even a chance at beating the bosses. Luckily there are tons of characters to unlock, all with their own unique stats and abilities to help overcome the obstacles, which continue to get more and more obstacle-y as you play. New characters aren“t the only extras in the game; there are unlockable stages, collectable cards, attainable trophies, and a theater and music player to fill with movies and songs. Extras are obtained through “Rhythmia,” an aggregate score you keep building up through the game, and it“s always fun to see what you get when your Rhythmia hits certain amounts. All this should be enough to keep any gamer occupied for eons, and that“s not even mentioning the levels that can be purchased as DLC. Theatrhythm isn“t without its moments of frustration though. Oddly, the Chaos Shrine repeats certain songs often while omitting other songs altogether; Final Fantasy III“s catchy battle theme is surprisingly absent here, while Final Fantasy V“s obnoxious “Mambo de Chocobo” seems to make an appearance on every other Dark Note. There are also a few songs with vaguely-defined tempos that prove difficult to predict unless you know the tracks like the back of your hand. And there“s always the possibility that the adorable art style will turn away gamers used to the "visual kei" style of modern Final Fantasy titles. Still, these few diminutive drawbacks do virtually nothing to reduce the playability of Theatrhythm. What seems at first to be a cute rhythm game turns out to have an impressive amount of depth. Final Fantasy fans will get dozens of hours out of this title, and rhythm game enthusiasts will find much to respect in its original take on the genre. Wherever Square Enix takes the illustrious franchise (and prospects don“t look good), Theatrhythm Final Fantasy serves as a perfect homage to a series whose magic has survived in many of us, even through its darkest notes. Pros: + Over 70 of the best tracks from a series highly renowned for its music + Tons of unlockable content + RPG elements that have a large effect on the gameplay Cons: - Songs repeat with odd frequency in the Chaos Shrine - Certain tracks just don“t seem right for a rhythm game Overall Score: 8.5 (Out of 10) Great A fun and original take on the rhythm genre, and a must for fans of Final Fantasy“s outstanding musical oeuvre.
  4. Last month, Square Enix kicked off the DLC for Theatrhythm with 12 add-on song tracks for $0.99 apiece. Now they've announced even more tracks for August - 20 new tracks, to be precise - and they've laid out the release schedule below. August 2, 2012 1. “Movement in Green” (FINAL FANTASY X) 2. “March of the Dreadnoughts” (FINAL FANTASY XIII) 3. “Gustaberg” (FINAL FANTASY XI) 4. “The Crystal Tower” (FINAL FANTASY III) August 9, 2012 1. “Battle Theme” (FINAL FANTASY X) 2. “The Dalmasca Estersand” (FINAL FANTASY XII) 3. “The Darkness of Eternity” (FINAL FANTASY IX) 4. “This is the Last Battle” (FINAL FANTASY III) August 16, 2012 1. “Challenge” (FINAL FANTASY X) 2. “Desperate Fight” (FINAL FANTASY XII) 3. “Battle 2” (FINAL FANTASY IX) 4. “The Final Battle” (FINAL FANTASY V) August 23, 2012 1. “Otherworld” (FINAL FANTASY X) 2. “The Royal City of Rabanastre / Town Ward Upper Stratum” (FINAL FANTASY XII) 3. “The Final Battle” (FINAL FANTASY IX) 4. “Battle 1” (FINAL FANTASY V) August 30, 2012 1. “Final Battle” (FINAL FANTASY X) 2. “Boss Battle” (FINAL FANTASY XII) 3. “Dark City Treno” (FINAL FANTASY IX) 4. “The Decisive Battle” (FINAL FANTASY V) Definitely some interesting tracks there, including some classics from FFIX, FFX, and FFXII specifically. Will this be the end of the run for the DLC add-on tracks? We don't know, but at the end of August there will be 32 add-on tracks available for Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy. It's a win-win situation for both sides since the players can choose to buy more musical tracks and Square Enix potentially stands to make a boatload of cash from this. Are there any songs in the list that you would be interested in buying?