Sunday, April 10, 2016

My Favorite Playstation 2 Games

 Here's the gist of it, in this world there's only one constant I'm entirely subjected to: Change. I am a person, and right now I'm not the same man that I was when I first began writing, heck, that guy wasn't even the same guy that wanted to write this in the first place! What I want to get to, once I stop digressing, is that this list is how I feel right now, at this very moment, so when and if I feel like making this list again, and knowing myself I probably will, it might change.

 So, what is that list? These are the games I liked the most on each particular system, this time around the Playstation 2. These are not necessarily the games I consider best, but the ones I liked the most and the ones I have the fondest memories of. For these lists I tried to stay away from multiplatform games, or from ports. I tried to, but in a few cases it was impossible to.

 Also... this list was by far the hardest to make, so many games got cut, and I even cheated a bit to get to talk about a few more games, which is a testament to just how good the PS2's library is.

10) Zone of the Enders 2
 Even though I prefer Gundam VS Gundam when it comes to mech games, as a 'Japanese mech simulator', of sorts, this is my choice. I must've finished this one hundreds of time already, and it never gets old. Non-stop, fast paced, all-terrain mech on mech action. It also has some of the most memorable setpieces I've ever played, like the battle in the desert, or using the Cannon to bring down giant gunships. And then you get the Zero-Shift and the game gets ridiculous, in the best kind of way.

9) Neo Geo Battle Coliseum
 I've been a fan of SNK's fighting games for as long as I can remember, always preferring their characters over Capcom's, although, in my opinion, Capcom always beat them at gameplay. Regardless, Neo-Geo battle Coliseum is a celebration of everything SNK. There's nods and cameos even to their non-fighting franchises, like a playable Marco from Metal Slug. I remember that most of the time my sessions of NGBC ended, my thumb would hurt a bit, the mark of a really good fighter.

8) Capcom VS SNK 2
 Did I mention that I preferred SNK's characters but Capcom's gameplay? Well, this game is exactly that. True, it's mostly Street Fighter VS King of Fighters, but there's a few surprises here and there, like Last Blade's Hibiki or Rival School's Hyo. There's a great number of characters, and 6 different ways to play them, all mimicking different Capcom and SNK's games, and the soundtrack is just amazing. Easily on my top 3 2D fighting games.

7) Shinobi
 While I played this game when I was younger, I don't think I was able to appreciate it as much as I did a couple of years ago. It's challenging, fast paced, exhilarating and offers it own brand of hack-and-slash, different from other games of its ilk, like Devil May Cry, Ninja Gaiden or God of War. It helps that Hotsuma is one of the coolest ninja designs ever.

6) Virtua Fighter 4 - Evolution
 The ungodly amount of hours I must've poured into this game! I remember playing vanilla VF 4 when I was way, way younger, and when the PS2 graphics were still amazing, and seeing the little trails fighters would leave in the snow, or seeing the tiles of the floor break. It looked amazing, and it didn't stop there, the moves looked amazing as well, it all leads to some of the most fantastic fights I've ever had the pleasure of watch, and even perform in. I would even duke it out with my best friend, I clearly remember this one time we did over 100 rounds of Akira VS Akira. I love this game, and while VF 5 is probably the better game, it doesn't hold the same amount of memories this one does.

5) Wild Arms 3
 Wild Arms 2 was pretty good, but Wild Arms 3 completely blows it out of the water. Now then, Wild Arms 2 had a very original, and fun, battle system, and Wild Arms 3 expanded upon it and polished to a sheen. The exploration remains the same, although in this case, it's a good thing, offering a hearty amount of puzzles and different locales to traverse. Then there's also the huge amount of side bosses and sidequests to complete, even though I could never really trigger the UFO event!

4) Outrun 2006 - Coast to Coast
 I'm not really a 'cars dudebro', so I'm not really into racing games. Which is a good thing, since this game is more of what I like to call a racing adventure game. You race against checkpoints, you race against yourself, while going though different routes and scenery. It's beautiful to look at, and I always manages to give me a certain sense of adventure, which I really like. But it doesn't stop there, the gameplay is very arcadey, appropriately of an Arcade game, easy to pick up and play, and once you get the hang of the drifting, it's pure bliss. It's easy to lose yourself into a trance while playing this game, and it feels so good. So. Good.

3) Killer7
 Suda 51 is my favorite videogame director, but I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't get to this game as soon as I should've. This is easily Suda 51's masterpiece, a game unlike anything you've ever played before, and quite probably, unlike anything you'll ever play. It's hard to delve into what makes the game so good. How about the insanely engaging premise? The unique gameplay? The amount of depth behind the story? Trust me, there're FAQs out there in order to help you understand the story. And it's true, this is a port of a Gamecube game, something I tried to avoid, but... It's Suda 51, dammit.

2) Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne / Digital Devil Saga part 1 and 2
 Alright, I'm cheating, I admit it, but I wanted to fit more games into the list, and... and they are both Shin Megami Tensei games(At least outside Japan), so... so.... I'm slotting them together. I tend to dislike games with mute protagonists, since it's almost impossible to give them any depth, so I was worried before starting Nocturne... but somehow, somehow, they managed to make you feel like you mattered without uttering a single word. It's a gripping tale, after the World ends and only a few humans survive, all trying to recreate the world under their own personal views, and you, the Hitoshura, while not able to recreate the world, have enough power as to be able to ensure the victory of whoever you aid. It's fantastic, the supporting cast is interesting and engaging, and the setting is so bleak, but so interesting....
 Digital Devil Saga is a more interesting case, with a stronger emphasis on the supporting cast. The first game is downright amazing, and while the second part is not quite as good, seeing the characters evolve as the story moves along is a thing of beauty, as you learn to love these characters. Even Cielo, who I never used in battle, I wanted to see him succeed. It's a phenomenal story.
 Oh! and both games run under the same combat engine, which is another fun twist to the turn-based system of yore, focused on hitting the enemy weakenesses in order to get extra turns.

1) Shin Megami Tensei - Persona 4
 Oh, poor Persona 4, getting milked to hell and back again by Atlus. But it doesn't matter how much they milk it, how much they dilute and ruin their characters with Persona Arena or Dancing All Night, the original Persona 4 remains a fantastic little game. Not only does it borrow most of the battle mechanics from Nocturne and Digital Devil Saga, but it mixes it with pseudo-dating sim elements, which sounds like a drag, but it works, it works really well! But it's the characters and their stories that really take the cake, all the supporting cast, from playable characters to NPCs, have their own trials and tribulations to go through, and they're so interesting that makes you want to follow them all the way to the end, and not for the reward, but to see them coming to terms and solve their conflicts!
 And they somehow managed to give personality to the mute hero. Sure, your decisions don't matter much when it comes down to it, but they somehow managed to give the protagonist a semblance of depth thanks to how he interacts with the characters around him.

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