Now Playing: Volume 1 Feature - The Next Level

Now Playing: Volume 1

A monthly reflection of our gaming exercises.

Article by TNL Staff (Email)
September 3rd 2008, 03:19AM

James Cunningham

This is one of the strangest gaming summers I can remember. Every year the flow of good stuff slows to a trickle, giving me time to either take a mini-break from gaming or, more likely, dive into the pile of stuff I wish I'd had more time for. In past years I've used this time to catch up on tv, get some reading done, or rifle through the used bins for cheap and oddball stuff I missed the first time around. While the summertime flow of worthwhile retail gaming is the about as expected, though, the volume and quality of the download scene is through the roof.

In the last few weeks I've gotten Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2 and Pixeljunk Eden, and the only reason I've passed on Braid so far is lack of time. Until I can give Braid the attention it deserves it can sit on Microsoft's servers, as can the upcoming Bionic Commando Rearmed. There's no question that these games are worth the time and money, but I've only got so many hours in the day and I'd rather they not sit on my hard drive, unplayed and unloved.

is one retail game that's been getting a disproportionate amount of my gaming time lately, and it's not one I was expecting at all. Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon has finally managed, after all these years, to hopelessly addict me to a Mysterious Dungeon game. These games have always felt like work more than play after the first few dungeons, but Chocobo's Dungeon finally knocks out the tedious bits, like constantly being knocked back to level 1, and replaces them with a job system that gives plenty of options in how to attack each level. My only complaint is that it's too easy to become overpowered, leading to long stretches where enemies barely knock off a small handful of hit points. Then Bahamut shows up and the fight is on, requiring a skillful balance of item usage and effect spells, and all is forgiven. I've been plugging away at Chocobo's Dungeon since it came out in early July, mostly in small chunks, and I'm not tired of it yet.

All told, this is gaming summers I've seen. My only worry is that come September, when the holiday avalanche really kicks in, I won't even begin to be caught up. Fortunately I've got a nice vacation coming up at the end of August with nothing planned, so maybe I can catch up then. Maybe.

John Dougherty

Even with all the solid releases we’ve seen thus far in 2008, a slow period is inevitable. After completing Snake’s final mission, there’s been a bit of downtime. During this year’s minute slowdown, I’ve taken some time to revisit some PS2 titles that I let slid by during their release. First up was a few hours with Indigo Prophecy, an adventure title from Quantic Dream. It certainly doesn’t feature compelling graphics, but the story really has me hooked.

What I really like is how you play through different parts of the story by taking control of all the main characters. While I haven’t quite finished it up yet, I’m already excited for the developer’s next title, Heavy Rain. The other PS2 game I’ve spent a few hours with is the RPG Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne. It’s my first Shin Megami title and all I can say is wow. Again, it’s the story that I find compelling. A deep title that starts with the end of the world as we know it? Sign me up.

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