Got Game? August 06 Feature - The Next Level

Got Game? August 06

It's back...

Article by TNL Staff (Email)
August 10th 2006, 04:25AM

Kenneth Horowitz

During the last two weeks, my GameCube has seen some major playtime. I finally got around to beating Resident Evil 0, and while I was a bit disappointed with the ending, I guess it's par for the course as the series goes. Now I can finally move on to the one RE game that I've yet to finish, which is arguably the best one. Part four enthralled me while I played, but I got side tracked by other releases and had to put it aside for a few months. Now, I can finally finish it up and move onto bigger and better things... Paper Mario: the Thousand-Year Door, a game that's brought me back to all the joy and awe I felt when I played the original Paper Mario title back on the N64. This is such a wonderful series, so polished and well-planned, that it alone ranks as sufficient justification to own a GameCube. The fact that Nintendo plans to send off their current console with one more foray into the paper-thin world of everything Mario makes me all giddy, and I'm going to be eagerly awaiting it on launch day.

Funny, isn't it? With all the criticism Nintendo received over the last two hardware generations, it's never slacked off with its software. I'll admit that my GameCube has been the least-played of all my newer consoles, but the games in my library amaze me with their quality. Metroid Prime ranks as one of my favorite games of the last decade, and it, along with Eternal Darkness, Animal Crossing, and both Paper Mario titles; have earned a permanent place on my shelf.

Not bad for a console everyone considers to be "third place."

Patrick Butler

Ah yes, the classic summer drought. Expected, but dreadful, it's a time gamers have absolutely nothing to play and are utterly forced to reach that mysterious place called "outside". In North America. While we hear in the Americas and Europe are used to having nothing to play, the mecca of gaming themselves (see: Japan) always has something worthwile to be released at any given moment. Luckily, since importing is like a second form of breathing for me, many triple A titles have been steaming my way in the past month. Many which we are all eager to play in the coming months and after my playtime with said games, are well worth the anticipation. Ikuze!

My month started on a good foot (or wing, I should say) with Valkyrie Profile: Silmeria at my doorstop. I used to be a huge VP nut (and still am), so saying that I had huge expectations for Silmeria was a vast understatement. The main character Alicia, had the Valkyrie Silmeria's soul infused in her body after said goddess was in "dispute" with Odin. As a punishment, her soul was to be left dormant in the princess of Dipans vessel. But now both souls resonate in one body and from there on in, once again a battle between gods and demons alike rises anew, but more importantly, one of two people locked in one cage of flesh.

Thankfully, SquareEnix managed to keep what made the first game intact and memorable. Villages and dungeons remain on a 2D plain, while the game's engine still renders everything in three dimensions. Battles are also still the way they were before, with the slight update of being able to walk up to your foes on a 3D field once an encounter takes place. Each party of foes have a leader and killing said foe first and foremost (or at least as quickly as possible) leads to a Direct Assault, which awards more EXP Gems. For a sequel-prequel, there were quite a bit of plotholes to answer from the first (granted you uncovered Lenneth's A ending, and just about every possible backstory of the cast of Valkyrie Profile wasn't left unanswered. Though, some revealings in Silmeria lead to even more confusion, but I'll stop there. Saying anymore would just spoil the game, so I can proudly say that it is a worthy prequel to one of the greatest RPGs the PlayStation had ever been graced. Or sequel. Whichever.

With Silmeria finished, I still had one game left and in high rotation; The King of Fighters XI. KOF XI isn't exactly the 11th installment in the KOF series, but regardless of its numeral discrepancies, it is not a game to be missed. The new roster of characters is near perfect, ditching some of the heavyweights no one really bothered to toy with (hello Chang & Choi) while keeping staple primary and secondary characters (Kyo, Iori, Nest, etc) and adding some new kids who definitely make a name for themselves and are not broken whatsoever (Osuwaldo, Elisabeth, Momoko). The Atomiswave hardware proved that the KOF series could see the light of day out of jaggy sprite animations with smooth sprites and backgrounds. Challenge, Survival, Single as well as Team Modes were added, along with a gallery which unlike most imports, are empty and for you to complete yourselves. It's a solid fighter that will hopefully get localized for NA and Euro gamers alike. Because going to the arcades for a few rounds of XI just doesn't cut it.

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