I’ve been thinking about some games I like that are sort of underappreciated so I don’t know I’m just gonna spit ‘em out. It’s late and I’m tired, here’s a closer look at how Pahrak thinks.
-Mega Man Star Force: Seriously this is probably the least-liked of the Mega Man series…es. Unless you count Xover, but chances are a lot of people don’t even know that was a thing, so I’m not gonna count it. And sure, it has its flaws, and I know fans of the main timeline’s gameplay don’t appreciate the RPG style of this and Battle Network (I’m actually the reverse), but there’s something it has that the Mega Man series as a whole is not known for: character development
! (…Granted, mostly the first game, but STILL.) You don’t just go around crushing random berserk robots or stopping a series of increasingly quirky cyber-terrorists, each boss you fight is an actual person going through an honest-to-God crisis when a freaking alien materializes in front of them and says “HEY I’LL HELP YOU SUCKER!”, and then Mega Man actually cares about what they’re going through and tries to actually help them through it in addition
to kicking their butt. (It’s a game, butts have to be kicked.) And Mega Man has problems too, that he slowly works through over the course of the game/series! Geo is my Mega Man because I can actually relate to him, even if Hub was my first and Ven/Aile are the only main timeline heroes whose game I’ve actually beaten. Geo Stelar is like Shinji Ikari done right. Which is the perfect mix of what I’m actually like and what I’d kinda sorta like to be like. Please love him.
-The World Ends With You: Oh man where do I start. Yeah, the only reason I bought it at first was because “oh hey a new Square game could be fun”, and then it ended up being one of the most fun games I’ve ever played. Grinding feels like a privilege
. And I never even fully mastered the crazy combat system, I had a freaking blast being mediocre at it. On Ultimate difficulty. It’s just so much fun to play. And then you get a story with genuinely interesting twists in a world with neat mechanics (the more complicated ones you don’t even need to know about until you get to the post-game reports) affecting characters who feel like actual modern teenagers in a way that isn’t totally obnoxious. Okay, one of them is totally obnoxious. Maybe two. But Neku is great. And you know JRPGs are generally all “friendship and collectivism”, and there’s some of that there, but they actually make a point of showing collectivism going too far, and instead of demonizing introversion and individualism, make a darn convincing argument that it is vital to strike a healthy balance between the two extremes. How novel! And they make it so easy to replay it, which is the real danger here, because if you like this game you’ll probably end up playing through it at least seven times, which I’ve done, and I really don’t replay many games. For me the world ended when I realized I could play this game instead of interacting with it. That’s not entirely true but I thought it sounded funny. Anyway TWEWY is dramatic yet touching and you should love it, but no rush they’re probably never actually going to make that sequel they teased.
-Final Fantasy V: Because it’s always about VII. Cloud has blocked the sun from falling on everything that came before him, except occasionally IV and VI. V is always in that dark spot, partly because the original SNES version was never brought stateside, and I guess the PS version had a bad translation? (So I’ve been told.) BUT DID YOU KNOW! Prior to the release of IX, V was Sakaguchi’s favorite Final Fantasy?! (Sakaguchi is the guy who made Final Fantasy BTW.) And now we have the GBA and mobile phone versions which have a much better translation and new stuff, and the sprites are pretty weird in the phone version but you can deal with that, so there’s no reason to ignore it any longer! FFV takes the Job System from I and III and enhances it before it disappears for a few installments, probably because it took them a while to feel like they could do it better. And this game, let me tell you, it has that balance of humor and drama that I love. A huge amount of it is self-parody, just messing around with standard Final Fantasy stuff and not taking itself too seriously. And then suddenly something super dark happens. And sometimes, there’s something serious happening, and someone says something that’s just genuinely hilarious. And then a few minutes later you’re crying. Like, you’ve got Gilgamesh taking about “NOW WE FIGHT LIKE MEN! AND LADIES! AND LADIES WHO DRESS LIKE MEN! FOR GILGAMESH, IT IS MORPHING TIME!” And then like, Exdeath just chucks your hometown full of innocent villagers straight into the Void
for no practical reason. Exdeath is the most terrifying tree ever. Gilgamesh is the best recurring boss, which is why he recurs in so many Final Fantasies now, and those are just the villains. The heroes are great. Bartz is pretty normal I’ll admit, but he’s still pretty darn cool. Then you’ve got Captain Faris Scherwiz, who gets thrown off a cliff and just freaking climbs back up two dialogue boxes later. (She’s probably the coolest girl in this franchise, and was written in 92. A cool girl in a JRPG in 92. You didn’t think it was possible did you?) And freaking Galuf, who basically breaks the game mechanics through sheer force of will and I’m crying again. It’s goofy and dark and filled with lovable dorks and you get to master the piano to the point where mere mortals quake in fear of your superhuman keyboard manipulation skills. Please punch Cloud and play this game.
-Pokemon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum: I mean, as far as Pokemon regions go. This seems to be about the cutoff for nostalgia blinders. But see, Young Pahrak (Pahrak Va) wasn’t allowed to watch/play Pokemon at first, not until around the end of Gen II/beginning of Gen III. At which point I binged, fell in love with Gold, but then got annoyed that I couldn’t trade my Pokemon up to Ruby and Sapphire. So my newly-permitted interest in Pokemon just completely dropped off, until I was in a store and saw Diamond, realized I had enough money in my pocket, and took it home with me. That game is the reason I’m playing Pokemon today. Sinnoh is a beautiful region filled with great Pokemon (I know, not enough Fire types, WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES), the Gym Leaders started to develop actual personalities and do things, and it had the first and still best female Champion (you were on your last Pokemon Cynthia, why did you do that to me, I still love you but why). And the mythology. Sure it led to Legendary inflation, which I’ll admit is obnoxious, but the mythic feel of Sinnoh just gives it a meaningful and fantastic (as in fantasy-like, though it is fantastic good as well) atmosphere I haven’t found elsewhere in the Pokemon world. Sinnoh is wonderful please love it like you love Kanto/Johto/Hoenn.
That’s all I can think of right now I should probably sleep.