It’s unfortunate the end of the earth trilogy never got a release in America, as it was easily the best in terms of gameplay and story. It doesn’t have the neat upgrade system Illusion of Gaia did, but the combat felt more satisfying to pull off thanks to the protagonists higher agility, and the game as a whole felt better paced due to not having to backtrack to rooms to transform into different shapes. But the story really sets it apart, while maybe great for the intended audience at the time, I don’t really feel either Illusion or Soulblazer hold up that well with their rather simple tales of the world, meanwhile Terranigma has a pretty good progression as you help awaken the different life forms kingdoms on the planet and eventually help it progress through history, and the twists and turns the game takes by the end are pretty shocking and tragic. Terranigma will unfortutately probably be forgotten by time due to its obscurity and lack of re-releases, but it’s one of the finest RPGs on the SNES.
39# Hyper Light Drifter
A deeper person would probably be able to tell you a good deal of what makes Hyper Light Drifter special, but for better or worse I’m not one of those. Really, the game is just a fun time with its combat system and heavy reliance on dashes, zipping around all over the place just feels nice, and while I don’t think I could tell you anything significant about its plot, I enjoyed the more minimalistic approach it had, felt like a breath of fresh air with how satured with cutscenes or dialogues games can be (although this might lead to some problems with the ability shop upgrades).
38# God of War Ghost of Sparta
While age has hurt whatever I might have enjoyed about the pre-reboot GoW storytelling and characters, they still hold up as fun action games, and out of all the takes on the formula Ghost of Sparta was surprisingly my favorite (more specifically the HD version as I really don’t care for the PSP in itself). After being fairly underwhelmed by the 3rd game despite the wait and the amazing production values, GoS felt like a pretty consistently enjoyable adventure, the set of weapons and spells is outright my favorite of the series, the bosses are all the good stuff you’d expect from GoW epic setting and the game doesn’t overstay its welcome having a length similar to that of the first game. There’s also a surprising amount of content after how barren the 3rd game was thanks to the new unlockables, with a nifty reward awaiting at the end of the whole thing. My only real gripe are the more cinematic moments where you just move Kratos slowly as a cutscene proceeds, which feels like an unfortunate modern design choice a lot of games have, but outside of that, it’s a pretty great time.
37# Momodora Reverie Under the Moonlight
Momodora caught me by surprise when I played it, being a series I’ve never heard of until a college classmate mentioned it to me. It’s a really cute Metroidvania with a surprisinly grim tone and a fun take on the usual formula by implementing an accesory system that grants different benefits rather than outright permanent upgrades, so there’s a fair amount of ways to tackle the game. It’s not very long, but that makes it all the easier to revisit.
36# Shovel Knight
It takes all the great stuff from retro platformers while also not being afraid of bringing modern conventions on their more archaic elements. I don’t think there’s much I can add over Shovel Knight considering how much of an icon it has become for succesful indie and kickstarter games, made all the more noteworthy after the disastrous Mighty No. 9 and more ho-hum Yooka-Laylee. The additional campaigns also further add to the experience, offering brand new level layouts and widly different playstyles to how Shovel Knight controls. I think the game has earned a place among the champions of 2D platformers.
35# Ghost Trick Phantom Detective
Ghost Trick reminded me a lot of old PC puzzlers that require you to create mechanims to make a ball reach the end (I think the one I saw constantly on school was called Tim or something of the sort). While that’s fun and all, what makes this game shine is its plot, which is one of the most heartfelt I’ve ever seen in anything. Without getting into spoiler territories, the game does a good job at keeping the player interested on the mysteries of the world and how you became a ghost with bizarre abilities, and there’s a fair share of loveable and memorable characters, it’s also pretty stylish despite using 3D models which normally look pretty terrible on DS games, but the unique coloring and character designs just make them pop up, and the animations are strange yet somehow very pleasing to the eye.
34# Batman Arkham City
I can’t say I’ve ever been a fan of Batman, as a kid his lack of powers just didn’t make me all that interested in his concept, as an adult I’m not really into comics and I haven’t been able to get into any of the movies or animated series, so it’s all the more surprising I like Arkham City as much as I do. The combat system in the game is a lot of fun, particularly seeing the combo multiplier stack up by, the new gadgets all feel pretty great for the situations the game throws you in (particularly the trick rooms Riddler comes up with) and I actually really like the sandbox hub of City compared to Asylum more confined spaces. Despite the amount of DLC (which I hear is of questionable quality), the main game is still full of content, so completionists are sure to get their moneys worth, and the attention to detail is pretty impressive for anyone that’s remotely familiar with the caped crusader mythos. The developers of the game clearly showed their love for the series while creating this, that much shows.
33# Tales of Vesperia
I’m not a big fan of the Tales of series, most of the games feel simply average with highly unimpressive stories, characters that might range from pretty good to just plain terrible and a combat system that can easily fall into button masher territory. Vesperia doesn’t quite avoid the criticisms I have with the series writing, but the combat is a whole lot more fun to mess around with, and it’s a pretty nice looking game despite likely not having a very large budget at the time thanks to its cel-shading (an aspect that was unfortunately dropped for the more mediocre follow ups on HD consoles until Berseria seemed to try again). The 3D movement and general speed give the player a higher sense of possibilities on how to tackle scenarios, and while not all of the characters are all that fun to play (mages), the stuff you can pull of with the protagonist as the adventure progresses is fantastic.
32# Tatsunoko vs Capcom Ultimate All Stars
The first traditional fighting game I was ever able to get into and pretty much the only one from Capcom that has managed to do this. Despite the bizarre premise of the crossover with Tatsunokos far less recognizable cast of characters to westerners outside of maybe Gatchaman, I feel this is the best the VS series fighting system was. 2 characters teams just feel like the right amount as 3 gets too convoluted and opens the gates to the seemingly never ending combos no one enjoys, and I feel the simplified control scheme works in the game favors while still having a fair amount of complexity to it . While limited by the Wiis power, the game is still very nice looking, and I might be in a minority here, but the US soundtrack is far superior to the JP one, offering far more intense tracks fitting of an arcade game in contrast to the more jpop lyric heavy stuff the alternative offers (although character themes are still a better concept than stages themes). Despite my love for this game, neither Marvel 2 or 3 really clicked the notes that made me love this game, and as far as crossovers go, I wish Capcom would actually try one with just their own properties instead of making another weird one with a studio from a completely different medium.
31# Guilty Gear Xrd
Maybe it’s the inner otaku in me, but I love Guilty Gears sense of style and ridiculous cast of characters, further boasted by the amazing presentation Xrd brought to the table. Ark system games have the right speed for a fighting game if you ask me, they’re not as chaotic and fast as the Marvel series, but also not slow like Street Fighter, and their characters all have pretty unique and amazing playstyle that make them all stand out from one another, alongside their crazy personalities. Not to be dimissed is the incredible soundtrack by Ishiwatari, that just might be the best I’ve heard in a game of the genre. If there’s one part where the series falter, it’s the story, trying to follow how convoluted and insane it can get is pretty daunting, and honestly, just not worth it, especially with their dull presentation (as much as I love Xrd graphics, the animations don’t translate well into a lot of the cutscenes). Blazblue letter came around while GG took a break, and it has its own qualities, but something about the characters and aesthethics simply don’t ooze anywhere near the same style, and the stories are somehow even worse if you can believe that.