Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology - Out Now

You know? It's kinda strange to think about the 3DS still getting new games. On one hand, it still feels like just yesterday I was driving home from GameStop on release day as I was wowed by the 3D effect of the new console. I can still picture my dad in the driver's seat as I opened the box sitting on my lap, and I can still remember the moment it asked me to switch on the 3D for the first time. That moment really stuck with me... But then I also can't help but remember all that's happened since then. The fact is that the 3DS came out almost seven years ago, and a lot of things have happened over the years. The Nintendo Wii U came and gone, the Switch released as a handheld/console mix, and right about now you'd think the old 3DS would be getting ready to die out. Well thankfully, that's not the case!

Today marks the release of the "newest" 3DS game. Although, I say "new" lightly. Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology is an enhanced port of the classic Nintendo DS JRPG "Radiant Historia." Yes, the very same one I went on a wild goose chase for back in 2011. Although it might seem strange for them to rerelease such an old game, this isn't the first time Atlus has done this (nor will it be the last), and the game is actually better for it.

You see, Radiant Historia was not a well known game. It was a very niche JRPG that attempted to capture everything great about JRPGs of the past, but while adding it's own spin on things. Rather than progressing through the game in a linear fashion as you'd normally do, RH takes the idea of time travel and mixes it into the core gameplay. Throughout the story you'll come across key moments where the timeline will diverge, and it'll be up to you to decide which path you can take. This moments however can then be revisited at almost any time, which allows you to choose different options instead. Go down one path only to see a main character get killed in front of you? Well just rewind time and go down the other path to see what went wrong. You might find out something which will allow you to prevent the death down the other path. Along with it's 3x3 grid based battle system, which asks that you push enemies into each other to create chain combo attacks, such systems make Radiant Historia is one of the more unique JRPGs to ever release on the DS. But again, sadly it wasn't one many knew about, nor was it one you could easily get your hands on... Which I learned the hard way. Of course, with today all of that changes. Thanks to this 3DS rerelease, the game is now much easier to find, and it's more likely that the news of it's release will spread. Even if a physical copy is sold out, the game is still up for download digitally on the eShop. But what is it that makes this version different? Well...

Although this game is not a "full" remake of the original, it has quite a lot of improvements. First of all, the game now features full voice acting for all major characters, and story scenes. While some lesser characters (such as one time NPCs) are text only, voice clips have been added to at least give them some personality. On top of this, the game's dialogue has been reworked to fit the new voice acting, and to improve the script in general. As a very story heavy game, these changes are very much welcomed.

Besides the voice acting, the game also features new story chapters, as well as a new key character. This new timeline not only adds to the original experience, but it also gives past players a reason to return to the game. Of course the game also offers an "original" story option as well, which allows you to play the game without the new content as it was on the DS, but chances are most would prefer to see everything the new game has to offer. The game also has new character art (with the old art being released as DLC), and has been updated for the 3DS' wider screen. Along with this also comes some new CG images during key parts of the story, rather than sticking with the simple sprites as the original did. (Plus analog controls have now been added thanks to the circle pad, but the original d-pad is still there as an option.)

Overall this version of the game is a pretty big upgrade from the original classic, and a must have for turn based JRPG fans.

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Monday, January 22, 2018

Xenoblade 2 - Review

The Xenoblade series has a long and interesting history. Created by a man named Tetsuya Takahashi, the game's roots can actually be traced all the way back to Square (now Square-Enix), and Final Fantasy VII. Back then Takahashi had pitched an idea to Square, but rather than becoming a part of the Final Fantasy series, it was allowed to continue on as a game of it's own. This game became known as Xenogears, and it quickly gained a cult following. Still to this day it's considered one of the greatest PS1 JRPGs by many; however, rather than getting a sequel like most popular games, the series "continued on" in a unique way.

Rather than sticking with Square-Enix, Takahashi eventually left the company and formed Monolith Soft. Using ideas and themes originally created for Xenogears, the company went on to team up with Namco to develop the Xenosaga series, and once again found themselves with a cult classic on their hands. While the series itself was completed with three games, characters and ideas found in it continued to live on. Characters such as KOS-MOS became iconic, and would continue appearing in Monolith Soft games for years (with Namco's permission of course). However, Monolith did not stick with Namco in the long run, and eventually became a part of Nintendo.

Now under Nintendo, the game went on to develop multiple games, but their biggest stand out title was none other than their 3rd "Xeno" series -- a game called Xenoblade Chronicles. Originally under a different title, the game was given the Xeno name in honor of Takahashi's past work, and once again the game continued in a similar way. Using ideas and themes from their previous two series, Xenoblade was the Wii RPG that pushed the system to it's limits, and  set the stages for the future. It was a game that released to critical success in Japan, but sadly Nintendo refused to release it in the US (despite having an English translation that was released in the EU). It actually wasn't until fan projects such as Operation Rainfall came around that Nintendo really considered a US release, and when it finally happened copies of the game were limited, and it was sold at GameStop only. It was sadly a lesser known game, with a small release, and because of that only a handful of people were able to get a copy. Even with GameStop's second print the game was quite rare, and expensive. That is, until things finally changed.

With the release of the Wii U, Nintendo finally started pushing Xenoblade as one of their major IPs. A follow up titled "Xenoblade Chronicles X" (Cross) was released world wide for their struggling console, Shulk (the main character of the original) was added to the new Super Smash Bros game, the original release was put up on the Wii U eShop, and a port was released on the "New" 3DS. Around this time the series began gaining more attention in the US, the fan base began to grow, and Nintendo gave the go ahead for Xenoblade Chronicles 2 to be developed for their upcoming Nintendo Switch. Which takes us to today.

While Xenoblade Chronicles X was sort of a "spiritual successor" that changed things up, and had more of a focus on a user created avatar and the online aspects, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is in fact the full on follow up to the original. It strips away the online to focus on a fully fleshed out single player story, it brings back a unique main character, and even returns to a similar setting to what we saw in 1. In short, it's the game Xenoblade fans have been waiting for. Or is it? And for the newcomers, is this a game worth checking out? Well that's what I'm hoping to answer for you today! This is my full review of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 on the Nintendo Switch.

The Story of Titans:

Alrest, a world filled with Titans. Above a massive sea of clouds lies a world where humanity builds it's life on the backs of giants. These giants take many different animal like forms, and are large enough to hold entire cities and their populations. Each Titan, as they are called, swims around the Cloud Sea, and go about their life without a care in the world. However, things aren't as peaceful as they seem. As Titans are living beings, they too have a life span, and that is the cause of great alarm for the humans living on their backs. If a Titan were to die, their body falls into the Cloud Sea, and all those living on them will go with them. With more and more Titans dying all the time, humanity is running out of places to live, and thus some look to legends of the past as a way to save themselves. "Elysium." That is the name of a legendary land that is said to be the home of the world's creator. Legends have it that it is located at the top of the giant "World Tree" located in the center of the Cloud Sea.

The story itself revolves around a young boy by the name of Rex. Rex lives on the back of a smaller Titan, and works as a salvager diving into the Cloud Sea looking for treasures. Early on in the story, Rex accepts a job that not only changes his life forever, but also leads him on an adventure of legends. After forming a pact with a "Blade" known as Pyra, Rex makes a promise with her to take her to Elysium, and sets out on a grand adventure. Of course, things aren't quite as simple as they seem...

The Backs of Titans:

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a large scale open world RPG. Although the game world is limited to the backs of each Titan you visit, these Titans are NOT small by any means. These creatures are huge, and as a result the game world itself is just as big. Rather than taking place in linear hallways, or on world maps like in most JRPGs, Xenoblade allows you to go just about anywhere you can see, and just about whenever you want. If you see a mountain in the distance, you can run to it. If you see a lake below, you can swim in it. The game's world is all about freedom, and because of that it is packed full of things to explore. Of course this is similar to what was seen in the previous two games as well, but this time things are a bit different.

While Xenoblade 1's world, which was set on the back of a giant, had to be broken up between areas and loading screens, Xenoblade 2 is completely seamless like in Xenoblade X. While you do have to warp to different Titans (as they are beasts of their own), there is nothing to break up towns, caves, dungeons, or the many open field areas along the way. Wild animals and monsters also roam the world, and sometimes things will change based on the weather, or time of day. Different creatures may be out during the night, and during the Cloud Sea's high tide some different areas may be accessible. All of this helps the world feel more alive, and encourages you to explore and to try and reach areas you might've thought were inaccessible. Mix in the fact that you can change the time of day with the press of a button, and you have a world that you have complete control over, without having to spend hours waiting. Of course all of this also applies to the towns and towns people as well, as different NPCs may walk the streets during the day, while at night many of them will be sleeping. Although Xenoblade 1 also used a similar system, thankfully Xenoblade 2 simplified it, and made it easier to find the NPCs by keeping them isolated to specific areas.

Towns and Development:

Unlike Xenoblade 1 (which only had a handful of towns) and Xenoblade X (which only had a single city) Xenoblade 2 puts a huge focus on it's towns and cities. This time around each town area is quite massive, and they are filled with NPCs and shops. While some of these NPCs are simply there to talk to and learn more about the world from, others will offer side quests, and some will offer special mercenary missions. While it may not seem like much at first, interacting with these NPCs, completing side quests and side stories, and even buying from the shops will help the towns grow. As towns grow and advance, different useful items will appear in the shops, and eventually you'll even gain the ability to "buy" the stores themselves. Doing so unlocks special perks and abilities for Rex and his friends, and they become quite useful. Developing towns in this way will also unlock more side quests and missions later on down the line, and doing these will really help you down the line. It's a unique system, and something that'll be working in the background as you play through normally.

Blades and the Battle System:

Just like the previous two, X2 plays out completely in real time, with monsters and enemies walking around the world. Some will attack you on sight, others will only attack you if you attack them (or their friends) first, and others will be completely over powered and simply destroy you whenever they feel like it. This set up makes you consider when you should fight, and when you should run, and often you'll find yourself taking indirect paths to reach your destination. Once you get into a fight however, things are a bit different from what fans may be used to.

In the world of Xenoblade 2, a thing called a "Blade" exists. While Pyra is the first Blade Rex himself gains the use of, she is not the only blade in the game. In fact, there are hundreds! By killing enemies, opening chests, and completing quests you can obtain an object called a "Core Crystal." These crystals are basically loot boxes, and opening them will give you a random Blade character. These Blades can then be matched up with the human who opened their crystal, and will become their weapon. Although blades themselves do not fight, their weapon type is summoned by the human, and their skills go along with them. For example, Pyra is a fire based sword user, which will cause Rex to use a sword when she's set as the "main" Blade. On the right side of the screen four hot key attacks appear (each set to the four face buttons), and they can be used once their bars have been filled up. These attack "bars" are filled up by your character's auto attack landing a hit on the enemy, but the process can be sped up. While Rex, and other party members, will have their own set auto attack patterns, you do have some control over it.

Rather than simply waiting for a full auto attack combo (which is slower), simply tapping the analog stick will cancel the auto attack and start over from hit one. The first hit is much faster (and almost instant), and can be used to quickly fill your attack bars to max to use your skills. However, doing this does have a trade off, as the following hits in a combo do in fact do more damage. Auto attack hit 2 does more damage than 1, and hit 3 does more damage than 2. In short, waiting for the full combo does do a lot more damage, but using the first hit can build your attack skills fast. Which also come into play with the combos.

Attack skills in X2 are similar to in the past, as some of the skills depend on the position you are standing in to be more effective, but attack canceling also plays a role in it. If you use an attack skill the moment your auto attack lands, the following hit will greatly boost the special bar for your Blade, and allow you to pull off their special much sooner. These specials are massive elemental attacks chained to the "A" button, and can be used to create Blade combos. They come in four different stages, depending on how much you let your special bar charge up, and can be a life saver in battle.

As Blades come with different weapon types and elements, the game allows you to equip up to three on a single character at any time, and it encourages you to try to use as many elements as possible. When a Blade uses it's special attack of any level, it'll actually leave that elemental effect on whatever it hit. For example Pyra will hit an enemy with a fire based special, and leave it in a "fire" state. At the top right of the screen a list of special attacks will appear, and it'll show you how to do them by showing the element needed. This is the Blade Combo system. So, while Pyra will start the combo by inflicting an enemy with fire, the Blade Combo list may show that the "wind" element is needed to do a volcanic tornado attack. Simply switch to a Blade with wind, build up it's special to the required level, and use it. Although there are MANY possible Blade combos, the game always tells you how to do them, so thankfully you don't have to worry about learning them. You can also command your party members to use their specials by hitting the L and R buttons, and a message will pop up on screen to tell you exactly what using their special will do. Again, it's a simple system that only sounds more complex than it really is. (And once again it's great for doing massive damage.)

Blade Upgrades, Skills, Stories, and More:

While Blades are technically equipment, they are also characters of their own. Although the game has many "generic" Blades for you to use, there are also unique ones. These characters sometimes come along from the main story, but many of them are drawn from Core Crystals just like the random common ones. This means these characters are in fact rare, and can take some time to get if you're not lucky. On top of that, you do have to choose which character will open the Core Crystal as well. If Rex opens a Core Crystal, it'll be bound to him, and can only be used by him. Of course you can find rare items that allow you to pass one Blade over to another character, but in general it's best to equally distribute Blades between all humans.

Once you have Blades (rare or non rare) on your characters, then you instantly gain access to all of their features. Each blade has an equipment slot where you can equip them with different weapons (which can be bought in stores or found), and they also have two accessory slots just as human characters do. Blade accessories have to be upgraded to use however, but thankfully this is a simple process. Simply feed the accessory the required amount of material (which can be gathered, dropped by enemies, etc), and it unlocks for use. These accessories come in a wide verity, and can both provide extra status boosts, or even give your Blades extra abilities.

Besides using weapons and accessories to upgrade your Blade, each also has a full affinity chart to work through. These charts are semi-spider webbed in shape, and have different nodes for you to unlock. Each node is either a stat boost or skill to unlock, and they each have some sort of requirement. For example, one character might learn a gathering mastery ability that makes it so you gather more items, and the requirement to unlock it might be to gather ten times. Simply pick up ten items, and that skill will be unlocked (assuming you have the Blade equip that is). Of course some skills require battles as well, while others may only unlock after finishing specific quests. Often these quests are unique Blade character quests, and they'll provide you with more story as you work through them. Of course human characters have their own affinity charts as well, but their skills are simply unlocked by spending skill points on them.

Mercenary Missions:

After you have your Blades ready and have started to develop towns, a mercenary system comes into play. These Blade focused missions are unlocked as you develop towns, but some of them are unlocked by talking to NPCs. Once these missions are unlocked, you're free to take them on as you see fit.

The basics of a Mercenary Mission are as follows. You first select a town/area you want to undertake a mission in, you select a mission from the list, and then you're asked to select Blades that meet the requirements for it. As there are a wide verity of Blade elements, weapons, and forms, it's a good idea to have as many different Blades as possible. While one Mercenary Mission may require you to use humanoid female Blades, another might want a specific weapon or element. On the other hand it's also possible a mission will ask for multiple requirements so it's best to have a Blade that fits more than one. If a mission asks for a fire based unit, and a male unit, it's a good idea to use a fire type male if possible. You only have six slots to fill each mission, so you're limited on how many Blades you can choose to fill the mission requirements.

Once you've chosen your team of Blades to send out, missions will then continue on in real time. If a mission takes an hour to complete, then it'll take an hour. If it takes twenty minutes, then it takes twenty minutes. There's nothing you can do about this time limit after you've sent your team out, but there is something you can do before it starts. By using more Blades that meet the requirements, you can actually shave time off of what is listed. In other words, if a mission asks for two fire types to be used, choosing six fire types instead will make them work faster. This is another reason you want to meet as many requirements as possible with your characters, but honestly in the long run it wont matter too much. This is a VERY long game, and it's entirely possible to finish all Mercenary Missions before you even beat the main story. At that point you can send characters out on already finished missions, and rake in the free cash and bonus exp each time they return. Eventually you unlock the ability to send out more than one team as well, so the process isn't as slow as it may sound.

Outside of exp, money, and items, Mercenary Missions also fulfill requirements for affinity charts, so you can unlock skills for Blades without actually going through their charts.


Early on in the game a special Blade becomes unlocked. This is Poppi, a robotic artificial Blade. Although she's not a "real" Blade, she functions like one in most ways. However, this is not fully the case.

While Poppi can equip weapons and unlock skills like the other, the rest of her abilities are parts that are unique to her. She's a fully customization character who can be changed up anytime you see fit. Her elemental type can be altered, her role in battle can be changed (she's an amazing Tank however), she can have multiple perks and special skills installed, and later on things happen with her that makes her even more unique. Sadly I can't explain what that is due to spoilers, but bottom line is, she's an amazingly strong character that you have full control over. Sadly, this can be somewhat of a grind.

Tiger Tiger is a classic style arcade game you must play to unlock new parts and upgrade points for Poppi. The game has you diving under the ocean to pick up treasure and crystals, all while dodging enemies and other objects along the way. Once you reach the bottom and pick up the big treasure chest, you must then make it back to the top of the stage. Getting hit will cause you to drop items you've picked up, and a forced scrolling screen keeps you from taking your time. At the end of the game you'll be rewarded points to spend on upgrades, but you can also gain parts from the treasure boxes as well. Later stages in this game reward you with better parts, but earlier stages are easier, and make it more likely that you'll complete a "perfect run." (A run where you collect all crystals and boxes without being hit.) Considering upgrade parts can also be bought with the same points used to level Poppi, playing through earlier levels can be faster, and more reliable than hoping for random drops. Even so, it's still a grind either way.

Considering this is the only way to upgrade Poppi, it's possible many people will ignore it. Although she is one of the best characters in the game, Xenoblade 2 does offer you other options, so you're not forced to stick with her or her upgrade game.


The final main aspect of the gameplay comes in the form of salvaging. By buying special items and going to salvage points, Rex (or one of his friends) can dive off the cliff and hunt for treasure. This plays out as a quick time event where you must press specific buttons, and depending on how well you do, you'll get better or worse treasure. While salvaging is used for some side quests throughout the game, the main use of this is to actually build your bank account. Special shops in each town will allow you to trade in sets of items for a large sum, and all of these items are gained from salvaging. At first this might seem like a pointless extra feature you'll only use from time to time, but by the end of the game it is how you become rich. Also sometimes hidden blades or bosses can be found this way, so there is a reason to try it out in different locations.

The Good and the Bad:

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a massive game. The story alone can take well over 80 to 90 hours to complete, but that playtime can easily be doubled (or tippled) if you set out to complete all side stories and side quests. On top of that, the music is great, the cell shaded anime graphic style looks nice, the world is nice and big and open, and the story is really interesting. Those who have played a Xeno game (any of the series) before may already know what to expect out of this type of game, but it is still filled with plenty of plot twists even fans wouldn't see coming. In short, it's a really good game, and possibly one of the best JRPGs out there. Of course, that doesn't mean it is perfect.

On the flip side the game can be a bit confusing at first.There's a lot going on, and the game is constantly throwing something new at you. Honestly it isn't as bad as it seems, but that doesn't stop the first ten or so hours from throwing non stop information at you that you may not fully understand. Sadly you can't review these tutorials either, unless you go to a shop and buy the information from them. (Yes, there is a shop that sells tutorials.) The Poppi mini game can be annoying as well, and, while not a bad point, not everyone may appreciate the game's style or anime style jokes scattered throughout the story. The game doesn't go too overboard with it, but such things do happen from time to time. Sadly some of the side quests tend to be annoying fetch quests as well, but thankfully there is only a small fraction of these compared to the previous two entries in the series.

Overall, Xenoblade 2 is an amazing game, and one Nintendo Switch owners should really check out. Sure, it isn't perfect, but it does come pretty close.

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Monday, January 1, 2018

Ben's Game of the Year 2017

Man, this one just isn't fair. Every year I write about what I'd consider my favorite game released during the previous year, and normally it's pretty easy. Sure there will be a few games I have a hard time picking between, but this year? I don't even know where to begin... So, I guess I'll start at the beginning?

Gravity Rush 2 - Although I prefer the first game over it, Gravity Rush 2 is the game that finally ended the story from the original game. It's a series that is very special to me, and I was happy to see it get the treatment it deserves. At least for awhile. Sadly the game's online service is shutting down next month, and the series has ended. Even so, it's a game series well worth playing if you haven't yet, and it was a nice way to kick off 2017.

Resident Evil 7 - This game was unforgettable. Not only did it return to a more classic Resident Evil style (being set in a confined location, puzzles scattered around, limited resources, and other horror survival elements), but it's also the game that brought the series to VR. And it terrified me. It's nearly impossible to explain to someone what it's like going through the game in VR unless they've seen it for themselves, but trust me, it's something you would never forget. Assuming you are brave enough to put yourself through something like this. Then, to top it off, a free expansion story was released just this month at the end of the year. So not only did we get to begin the year with this, but we get to end it with RE7 as well.

Tales of Berseria - Releasing the same day as RE7, ToB is easily one of the best Tales of games in years. It's a game that fixed nearly every issue with last year's release, brings to the table a much darker story, and it has a great cast of characters. The new island setting and pirate themed story is also a really nice change of pace, and the game runs at a nice solid 60 fps. While the game still isn't built specifically for the PS4, it's nice to see they made use of the new hardware in at least some ways. (It's cell shading is really nice too. As is that opening theme song by FLOW.)

Kingdom Hearts 2.8 HD - While not completely a new game, this mini collection is really nice. Featuring an HD remake of Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance from the 3DS, this collection adds improvements of it's own to DDD, and also gives us a short look at the upcoming KH3. With a mini episode featuring Aqua to help bridge the gap from Birth By Sleep, and a movie showing another side of the mobile game, it's a must play for those who are interested in next year's major release. Especially for those who never got a chance to play DDD when it first released.

Yakuza 0 and Kiwami - I'm mixing these two together here. The Yakuza series has always been popular in Japan, but it's been neglected here in the US for many of it's releases. Cut content in games like Yakuza 3, and late digital only releases of other titles have kept it from really shining here in the US. Heck we didn't even get the Wii U collection of 1 and 2. With 0 however, this finally changes. The game is a massive arcade style beat em up series, with a huge city to explore, hundreds of hours worth of content, and MANY mini games for you to play (including SEGA arcade classics). It's got a crazy deep story, and all of this continues into Kiwami as well. They are two games well worth the time to play, and it's really nice to see SEGA give us a proper localization of them.

NIOH - Team Ninja is back! NIOH is a samurai based "souls" style game. At least, that's how a lot of people think of it. In reality this game is Team Ninja's return to form. Featuring a level structure and gameplay style similar to the original (modern) Ninja Gaiden, NIOH takes that and puts a souls twist on it. An energy bar limits your attacks and movement, but with the inclusion of the Ki pulse system and perfect timing, that energy system almost fully goes away. Rather than standing back to rest, the game encourages you to stay into the action, and dodge or ki pulse with perfect timing to regenerate your stamina to keep going. The game is a mix of main missions and "ninja trial" style side missions, and is sure to give you a challenge with loads of customization options. In short, it's a really fun game, and it's nice to see Team Ninja return. (Now where's a proper Ninja Gaiden 4?)

Super Robot Wars V - Now this one is mostly just for me, but man. Super Robot Wars V is great. Featuring characters and units from popular mecha series such as Gundam, Evangelion, and Full Metal Panic, this game also introduces non mecha to the mix such as the sci-fi classic Yamato. The game's a solid tactical RPG that's loaded with content, and a must play for fans of the genre and series included within it. Although it wasn't brought to the west like Project X Zone 1 and 2, it was translated and released in Asia so western players can still play it.

Horizon Zero Dawn - Another solid PlayStation 4 exclusive. This game mixes an open world RPG, with a "monster hunting" style. While it has your standard western RPG style quests, the real star of this show are the massive robotic animals you have to fight, as well as the ancient "advanced" ruins you come across and explore. It's a game that tests your skills to take down massive beasts, but it also gives you a story of mystery to help push you forward. It's a really fun game, and something PS4 owners should at least try.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - Here it is. A game fans have waited MANY years for. And the result? Pretty impressive! Rather than playing like a standard Zelda game, BotW is more of a survival/adventure game with heavy RPG elements. You have a massive open world, you can freely climb up anything, you can freely walk anywhere, and you have loads of hidden secrets to discover. The world is lively with NPCs going about their daily life, there are tons of quests to complete, and it's story is fleshed out and filled with mystery. (Not to mention all the little detail in the game like setting fields on fire and using the heat to fly higher with your glider, or cutting down trees to make a bridge to cross a gap... Or eating food to keep yourself warm.) The game really is impressive, and was well worth the wait. Plus mix in the fact that it's a Nintendo Switch launch title, and you have something that's really special. It's easy to see why so many people feel this is this year's GOTY. (But is it mine?)

Super Bomberman R - While not a huge release, it is also very much a huge release. Bomberman, long thought to be dead, has finally made his return, and follows a classic style. It was also a Switch launch title, and was one of THE games to get to play with friends. While it may not be the "best" game released this year, it's something that deserves at least a shout out.

Nier Automata - This game is something truly special. The latest entry in the Drakengard/Nier series, Automata focuses on androids fighting robots on Earth so that they can one day make it safe for humanity to return to it. Set place thousands of years after the previous entry, the game really is something you have to see for yourself to understand. Featuring a mix of gameplay styles, it's a unique title that is prepared to shock you at every turn. At first what seems to be a generic semi-open JRPG, soon becomes something different with a much deeper meaning behind it. Easily one of the best games to come out this year.

Mass Effect: Andromeda - Finally! The new Mass Effect is here and it was! .......... Well, it's really mixed. Honestly I like it for what it is, but it's really not something worth the wait. Nor is it my game of the year. You can still have fun with it though, and the later patches have improved it from what it was.

Zero Escape: The Nonary Games - Also an old game, but something worth bringing up. The Zero Escape series is one of my personal favorites, and both 999 and VLR have amazingly shocking stories that everyone should really see. This collection not only includes both games, but it also features a remake of 999 with full voice acting, and updated HD sprites for the new consoles. This is also the first time it's been released as a full game on something other than the Nintendo DS (iOS novel version is just that, a novel), so it's the first time many people actually get to play it. The game also has an "adventure" mode which cuts out the novel style descriptions, so its possible to skip past most of the disturbing content that makes it a "horror" game.

Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 HD - Not much to really say here, except that it's a collection that includes Kingdom Hearts 1, Chain of Memories, a movie version of 358/2 days, Kingdom Hearts 2, Birth by Sleep, and a movie version of Re: Coded. Along with 2.8 HD, this collection finishes bringing the entire KH series to the PS4. It's loaded with content, and great for fans and newcomers alike.

Persona 5 - Yet another long awaited game was finally released in the US in 2017. Persona 5 is a game that not only builds upon previous entries in the series, but it also improves nearly EVERYTHING about it. Gone are the fully randomly generated dungeons (outside of a short side dungeon), and now in their place are fully realized stages. Not only are these new dungeons fun to play through, but they introduce new unique gameplay elements to the series, and really play off of the phantom thief theme the game has going for it. Persona 5 is also a game that's filled with style, and it has music you'll be humming for years to come. It's something all JRPG fans with a PS4 (or 3) should be checking out.

The Silver Case - This unique classic visual novel by the one and only Suda 51 might not be the best game to release this year, but it is one fans of his should check out. Focusing on a police force and a detective as they solve multiple related cases, this VN is one that really stands out, and has you questioning what is really going on. Of course it's an old game so it can be a bit dated, but it's still worth your time if you enjoy this sort of thing. Especially since the sequel will be out next year.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - Another old game being rereleased, but for many this may be their first time playing it. Originally a Wii U exclusive, Mario Kart 8 was one of the lesser played games in the series due to the Wii U's sales (although it did help sell the console), and it was often criticized for lacking content other Mario Kart games had. Well, Deluxe fixed that. With a full battle mode and other new content added, this is easily one of the best Mario Karts to date, and a must have for Switch owners. (And this is coming from someone who originally didn't like the game on Wii U.)

Puyo Puyo Tetris - Not much to say about this one either, but Puyo Puyo is a very fun puzzle game, and Tetris is, well, Tetris. Mixing the two creates a very unique game of its own, and something fans shouldn't miss out on.

Farpoint - A PSVR exclusive that is a must play for those who own one. Although it may seem like a generic first person shooter set on an alien planet, what really makes this game shine is the fact that you are "there." Mixed with the VR aim controller, this is an experience that will really blow you away. The feeling of physically side stepping and spinning my body around to dodge and shot gun blast a flying enemy out of the air is something I'll never forget, and I can't wait to see more games like it. While the story is only around 5-6 hours long, the added challenge modes give you a reason to return time and time again. Well, that and co-op and the new pvp  mode.

Fire Emblem Echoes - The remake of Fire Emblem Gaiden, Echoes takes the Awakening style and uses it to recreate the original classic. Not only is this the first Fire Emblem to feature full voice acting, it's also the first in the series to be different. Rather than being a pure tactical RPG, Echoes mixes in standard JRPG elements such as dungeon crawling, and is more stat based than class based. Attacking enemies on the field or in a dungeon will trigger a turn based map battle, but winning said battle will net you exp for your entire party. It's a unique twist on the standard formula, and a lot of fun. Not sure how many years the 3DS will have left, but this is a great send of title for the Fire Emblem series.

Utawarerumono - Again, not a game for everyone, but something worth bringing up. The Utawarerumono series is a pretty popular one in Japan, and has even seen multiple anime remakes. It's a visual novel with tactical rpg elements, and a shocking story that keeps players hooked. 2017 saw the release of both the 2nd and 3rd games here in the US, and also was the year when the series was announced to have a future. Yes, that's right. Not only is the first game being remade after all these years, but new entries are on their way as well, and it's looking like we'll actually be getting them. (Hopefully.) It's a game series worth it for visual novel fans, but it's not for everyone.

Tekken 7 - Tekken is back! Putting aside the meh story mode, and lack of extras at launch, there's no denying this solid 3D fighter. The console version of this has been a long time in the making, and it feels great to finally get to play it. It's a must have for fans, and for fighting fans in general.

PREY - Sadly underrated (and hated by many fans of the original), PREY is a fun adventure that should really be given a chance. Set in a space station filled with aliens that can transform, PREY has you explore the world to unlock new power ups and and abilities, which in return can be used to discover new areas and advance through the game. It's almost Metroid like, and it gives you a lot of fun tools to play around with.

(Man, there's still more...)

Wipeout Omega Collection - Wipeout is a great sci-fi racing series. While it's no F-Zero, it really is the next best thing (and for some people, it's even better)! Featuring crazy sci-fi tracks to race through at high speeds, this collection not only includes Wipeout HD (which is basically three games on it's own), but it has the newest entry as well, which was previously released on the Vita (which also included Wipeout HD, so I guess this is really more of a remake of the Vita game?)! It's a game packed full with content, and to make things even better it's getting a PlayStation VR patch next year. Although it isn't a new game, it's one many may not have gotten a chance to play.

Final Fantasy XIV Stormblood - I figured I should at least mention this as well. Stormblood is the newest expansion to FF14, and it's a BIG ONE. After finally dropping the PlayStation 3, Stormblood allowed Square-Enix to lift many of the limits previously set, and greatly improve the game in many ways. Chocobo no longer act as party members and can be summoned by each person in the 8 man party (and minions can be summoned along side chocobo), they added in the ability to swim (and go underwater), new areas based off of Asia were added to the game, new classes like the Samurai were added, all previous classes and their attacks/combos have been revamped, and a new 60 + hour story was added. Of course a lot of other things were changed as well, but it would take multiple pages to even attempt to explain it all. In short, this was a huge upgrade, and is a game of it's own. Too bad when it launched I spent the first 9 hours or so waiting in line... Great way to spend my day off of work!

Valkyria Revolution - A game that is sadly hated by many, but not as bad as many make it out to be. Rather than being a tactical RPG like the mainline series, Revolution takes an MMO style approach to it's battle system. Instead of commanding units, the game plays out fully in real time with a party based structure. The idea here is to build a small party, customize their skills/hotkeys, and then plan out your attacks as you take on mobs of enemies and large bosses. At first glance it seems like a hack n slash, but over time it evolves into more. Using skills to buff enemies and debuff yourself, using AoE attacks to clear out large mobs, using knock down attacks on bosses to land some hard hitting back attacks, casting haste to speed up your cool down times, and using elemental attacks to hit weaknesses are just a handful of the things you are asked to do in this game. Anyone who is used to how MMOs like Final Fantasy XIV play will already have an understanding of this party system, but newcomers may be completely lost. Sure the game isn't that hard, but it is a lot more fun when you play it the "correct" way.

Mighty Gunvolt Burst - What's sad about this game is, it's a mini 8-bit style adventure that's been in development for a short amount of time, and it's better than MN9 in every way. In fact, it's technically a "reboot" of Mighty No 9. Reusing all of the same bosses and stages from the original, Mighty Gunvolt Burst actually makes the game much better. While the levels are "returning" stages, they have actually been redesigned from the ground up, and the bosses have been tuned up as well. Mix in multiple new playable characters, and the ability to customize the bullets that fire from your gun, and you have a unique classic style Megaman clone that IS worth playing. Again, it's everything MN9 should have been.

Final Fantasy XII - Yet another old game being brought to the new generation. FF12 is one of those games that has a split fan base. On one hand a lot of people love it, but on the other you have those who hate it. Whatever side you're on though, you  might be happy to hear that the new port improves it in multiple ways. Not only is this game based on the Zodiac release we never got in the USA (which has the very much loved class system), but it makes improvements of it's own. Now you can choose a second class to go along with your main class, and you can speed up the flow of the game with the press of a button. Of course graphics have been enhanced as well, but it's really these other two improvements that steal the show. Mix those in with the improvements from the Zodiac version, and you have a much better FF12 experience. I personally wasn't a huge fan of 12 back on the PS2, but I did enjoy the port.

Mega Man Legacy 2 - Another collection of old games worth your time. This time it's Mega Man 7, 8, 9, and 10 (and all their DLC). Perfect game to play before 11 releases (which I'm still in shock that it is actually happening.)

Sonic Mania - Best Sonic game in YEARS. It's made by a group of die hard fans, who's fan games you may have actually played. With this one being backed by SEGA though, they've really stepped up their game, and their result is a throw back game that all fans should play.

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy - The sendoff Uncharted game. Lost Legacy takes place after Uncharted 4, and focuses on Chloe (who was first introduced in Uncharted 2). It's a game that helps bring closure to the series, while also expanding on some of the ideas brought in by Uncharted 4. While it may not be as long as 4, it is much more action based, and a lot more similar to what we saw in Uncharted 1. In short, it's a fun game, and a must for fans.

Monster Hunter Stories - A spinoff to the Monster Hunter series. This full story based JRPG takes the classic MH themes and setting, and turns it into, well, a JRPG. Featuring a turn based battle system and monsters to capture, the game has a huge semi-open world, and tons of monsters to fight and collect. It's a unique game that has even spun off it's own anime, and it's a lot of fun. Sure it's mostly fan service for Monster Hunter fans, but that doesn't stop newcomers from enjoying it too. It's one of those games that keeps the 3DS worth owning in 2017.

Ys VIII - The best Ys game yet. This action rpg has Adol crash land on a deserted island, where he must explore the world, find other survivors, and work together with them so that they can escape. Of course there's a lot more to this story than that, but that would be a spoiler. Bottom line though, this is a really fun action adventure game (which is also Metroid like), and the largest Ys game to date. Sadly there's a shotty translation, but that will be fixed early next year. The team is currently in the process of rerecording the voice acting and rewriting the script, so those who are interested may want to wait till next year. It's still a great game gameplay wise though.


Metroid: Samus Returns - Speaking of Metroid, 2017 saw the return of the series. After being dead for quite some time, Metroid returns to it's roots on the 3DS, with a new Metroid Prime game on it's way for the Switch. As for the 3DS game though, it's a complete remake of Metroid 2, with tons of new features added in. Rather than simply "remaking" the game, Return of Samus is technically a new game of it's own, using the Metroid 2 story as a base. In other words, even if you've played 2 before, you'll find that this is not actually the same game. With that being said, it's also the first classic Metroid game to be released since the GBA days, so this really was a big release for fans.

Danganronpa V3 - The crazy visual novel/anime/novel/whatever else series returns, and this time with V3. Can't say anything about the game due to spoilers, other than the fact that it's a visual novel that focuses on kids killing each other, and the class trial to prove who is guilty and who is innocent. It's a crazy fun, and crazy unique series, and a must play for fans. As for newbies? You need to start with 1. Good thing this year also saw a release of the 1 + 2 collection!

Gundam Versus - A really fun arena based arcade fighter. The game pits teams of two against each other in high speed mobile suit battles, and is simply a lot of fun. While it does lack in single player content, the gameplay and online makes up for it. Of course there are also 1v1 and 3v3 fights, but ranking is all about the 2v2. Sadly this was a reboot for the Versus series so it doesn't have as many mobile suits as the previous entry, but what is there is still nice (and close to 100 at the time of this article). More will be added in the future, so don't let the current roster turn you off.

Fire Emblem Warriors - Building off of Hyrule Warriors, 2017 saw the follow up in the form of Fire Emblem Warriors. Also a Switch (and New 3DS) game, the title has characters from Fire Emblem 1, Awakening, Fates, as well as a few older titles, battle it out to gain control of different maps. It's pure hack n slash action, but with Samurai Warriors Chronicles 4 player unit switching, and commands that can be issued from the game's map. It's a game that still requires FE style tactics, but with your standard warriors style gameplay.

The Evil Within 2 - The next game from the "creator" of Resident Evil. The Evil Within 2 is a horror survival title that fixed many of the issues of the previous, and also mixes in a more open world rather than linear stages. It's still pure horror survival however, with very limited resources, and with horrifying monsters ready to kill you around every turn. Stealth is key, and exploring is both a major risk and a reward. Again, might not be the "best" game released this year, but it is a fun one.

Chaos;Child - Yet another visual novel, and one in the Science Adventure series at that. While Steins;Gate is a widely known popular story, Chaos;Child is the follow up that many felt rival it. I can't talk about the story without spoiling, but it's one of those games visual novel fans should really check out. Although it can be a bit... Disturbing to say the least.

Destiny 2 - Yes, it's Destiny, but it's also an improvement over the original. It's also on PC, and that alone is a huge improvement. Fans of the series knew what they'd be getting into with this, but I figured I'd at least bring it up. It was a pretty big release this year, and it's something that'll be around for a long time.

Assassin's Creed Origins - This one was a shock. The AC series has really been a mixed bag over the past... 10 years? And by this point it seems like it's been done to death. People going into these games know what to expect, and a lot of people are tired of it. Then Origins came out and changed everything! Rather than being the AC we all know, Origins is a full on massive open world RPG, with an improved combat system, loot drops, dungeons to explore, and it has an interesting story. The ancient Egyptian setting was also a nice change of pace, and the scale of the game and it's world is impressive. This is AC at the best it has ever been. (Although, I still would consider 2 and 4 favorites of mine.)

.hack//GU Last Recode - Old games yet again, but this time it's different. The .hack series has been out of the picture for quite some time, and fans have been begging for a new game, anime, novel, manga, or just about anything else. Fans just wanted to see their long running beloved series return, and this year they finally got their wish. Last Recode is a remaster of the original three .hack//GU games (which are often considered the best in the series), with an added 4th mini episode at the end. It features multiple improvements across all three games, and it also holds the series' future in it's hands. How well this game sold will determine the series' fate. Good thing it's a fun classic JRPG, and a pretty good starting point for new fans. Sure you'd miss out on quite a bit, but at least it does include the summary of the original .hack 1-4.

Sonic Forces - Eh, I already shared my thoughts on this game in my review a few posts back. Long story short... See Sonic Mania...

Skyrim VR - I know, I know. Skyrim is an old game, but it's also an old game I hated. Yep, that's right. I don't like Skyrim. Not a big fan of it's fantasy setting, or its fetch quests, or generic dungeons, or it's combat. Personally I prefer Fallout. That being said, I LOVE SKYRIM VR! At the time of this writing I've already put 50 + hours into it, and I've only seen about 1/10th of it's world. Although the quests can get a bit annoying still, actually being "in" that world yourself changes everything. Again it's not something you can really explain to someone who's never tried it, but trust me, it is impressive. Walking up huge mountains and looking out over the world below you, seeing snow fall, getting jumped by a pack of wolves as you go to open the door of your house. All of these things are something you'd have to experience for yourself to really understand, and they are moments you'll never forget. Skyrim is a huge game, and it's also an amazing world to live in. Heck, it even gives you a reason to walk everywhere rather than simply warping from place to place. Just seeing the world around you is enjoyable, so why would you want to cut some of that out by fast traveling?

Wolfenstein II - Putting aside it's marketing team, Wolfenstein II is a fun follow up to the previous release. While it may not blow you away, it's a game fans of the previous game will most likely enjoy. It's yet another fun game released in 2017, and that's why I'm including it on this list.

Tokyo Xanadu eX+ - What happens when you mix Trails of Cold Steel with the Ys series? You get Tokyo Xanadu, that's what. While this game may not be some big budget AAA release, Falcom really knows what theyr'e doing when it comes to their game series. They put a lot of love and care into each release, and that passion continues to show. With Tokyo Xanadu you have a real world inspired setting, with a Ys style combat system. While outside of battle the game plays like Trails of Cold Steel (game uses the same engine, and reuses a lot of the same resources, and has many NPCs to talk to throughout each day), dungeons themselves play out in real time with you fighting your way to the end. Using a Ys style weakness system, the game has you swap between characters to deal greater damage to enemies, and it also grades you on your performance. Although the story itself may not be the most original thing you'll ever see, it doesn't change the fact that it's a fun little JRPG that fans should be checking out.

Mario & Luigi Super Star Saga - Yes, ANOTHER old game, but this one is different. Mario & Luigi Super Star Saga is the GBA RPG that started the series, and it's also the one that many consider to be the best (well, either that or Bowser's Inside Story). It's an extremely fun, quirky game, and it's also one not everyone has gotten a chance to play. 2017 changes that however, by releasing a remake of it on the Nintendo 3DS. Featuring quality of life changes, as well as the added features from the original Japanese version, this game is no doubt the definitive version. While the game was already a stand out title on the GBA, the new features only serve to make it even better. It's a must play for fans of the series, and a great starting point for anyone new. (Well, it is the first game after all.)

Super Mario Odyssey - Yes, this game came out earlier in the year, but I'm going by the order I played them. That being said... This is the game I've been waiting for since I was 11! Super Mario Sunshine is one of my favorite games of all time, and I've always wanted a follow up to that. A game with open ended levels, and plenty to explore. Sadly, I had to wait twice my life + a few years for that to happen. Man... But anyway, Mario Odyssey really is a game that was worth the wait. It's a huge grand scale adventure, and a great throw back to older Mario games as well. It's a must have for Nintendo Switch owners, and easily one of the best games in the series. (Nintendo really went all out this year.)

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 - What can I say about Xenoblade? Amazing. Yeah, that about covers it. Building upon the first two releases, Xenoblade 2 is a large scale grand adventure that you can easily lose yourself in for hundreds of hours. As a Nintendo first party, they really went all out for this release, and all their hard work shows. Honestly there's just way too much to explain about this game... It has a nice cast of characters, an interesting "blade" system (where you summon other characters to fight along side you and power you up), the world is MASSIVE (and takes place on the backs of giants similar to the original), it has a really good story, and an improved MMO like battle system. If anything, this is one of the MUST HAVE games on the Nintendo Switch, and it was well worth the wait. 

Need for Speed Payback - I know, I know, maybe this one shouldn't be on the list either, but oh well. Although Need for Speed Payback had a pretty horrible release, patches have since cut back on a lot of the game's issues. Although it isn't the best racing game out there, it is one I had a lot of fun with. It's a simple open world arcadey racer, with some fun set pieces, and some solid driving. Drifting in the game is a lot of fun, and the story was your classic "so bad it's good" type of story you'd expect from a NFS game. Yeah it's a let down that there's no cops in the open world, and the game does seem gimped in a few other areas, but again, I still have fun with it. Needless to say, it's not my GOTY choice.

So, with all of that being said... What game do I pick? There were so many this year that I either loved or liked, and just picking one of them really isn't easy. So, I guess I'll have to go with my "original" choice...
Persona 5!

It's hard for me to put into words what Persona 5 means to me. Persona 3 and 4 were both special, but Persona 5 is on a whole different level. The moment I put that game in, I was hooked, and I never wanted it to end. I loved the cast of characters, I loved the story, and I just loved the whole game in general. The new combat system maps attacks to buttons and greatly speeds things up, the ability to talk to shadows is a nice feature to see returning (it was last in Persona 2), the unique dungeons were fun, stealth attacking enemies to get into battles became addicting, and the game's style simply blew me away. The soundtrack was amazing, the cell shaded graphics were amazing, the menus and loading screens and battle result screens made every other JRPG look dull, and I loved the fact that the game was finally fully 3D. Just everything about the game pulled me in, and when it was over I wanted more. In fact, I went back in and 100%ed it!

Although Persona may not be a series for everyone, it's become one of my favorites. Persona 5 surpassed all of my expectations, and it made me hopeful for the future. Atlus really outdid themselves this time, and I'd like to see them do it again.

And with that, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone for reading, and I hope to see you all again in the new year!
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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Ben's Gaming Memories - Road to Christmas!

Ever since I was a kid, Christmas was my favorite holiday. The wait for Christmas morning to come was always killer, and I always found myself trying to find something to pass the time. A lot of the time I'd watch TV shows or movies (like Christmas Specials) as I waited, but gaming played a major role as well. In fact, it still does. So with that being said, today I wanted to share a list of games with you guys. Games that sort of "defined" each Christmas for me, and ones I have very fond memories of. Many of these are actually games I rarely talk about here, so I figured it would be a fun change of pace. (At least for me?) Anyway feel free to think of your own list as well!

2008 - Need for Speed Pro Street:

One of my favorite racing games of all time, that I almost never talk about. Christmas of 2008 was my first year of owning the Xbox 360, and I was excited to finally get more Xbox games. I remember putting quite a lot on my list that year, but funny enough it's the games I played leading up to Christmas that stood out the most. With the main one being Need for Speed Prostreet.

While other NFS games are mostly open world arcade racers, Prostreet was fully track based, and was more simulation like. Rather than racing down tracks at high speeds without a care in the world, Prostreet made you play both safe and smart. Car damage was a thing, wrecked cars were expensive to repair (or replace), and you couldn't use the same car for every event. Instead you had to think about what you wanted/needed for each type of race, and then you would have to fine tune each car to suit your needs. A lot of planning went into the game outside of races, and any mess up would cost you greatly. And I loved it.

Prostreet was something I spent a lot of time playing, and it was THE game I used to kill time while waiting for Christmas. In fact, it wasn't just me. My cousin would come over almost every day as well, and Prostreet was both of our to go to game. We both had a save file on my console, and we both took turns working through the game's campaign mode. In fact on 12/23/2008, that's exactly what we were doing when midnight came and Christmas eve was officially here.

Now days NFS gets a lot of hate, with a lot of it's games receiving mixed reviews, and sadly almost no one remembers what the series used to be. Really, if you're into track racers, Prostreet is something you should really check out if you get the chance. Especially considering how cheap it is now days.

2009 - Rock Band:

2009 was my first year of college, and it was when I started putting more time into working at my family's bakery. Because of this I had extra money to spend, and was able to buy more games myself. This is when Assassin's Creed really entered the picture for me. Coming out just the month before, Assassin's Creed II was the game that completely blew me away, and it was something I would continue to play for quite awhile. Although it didn't take me long to finish it, it was one of the few games I kept returning to during December as well. Even so, the real game that took a lot of my time back then was none other than Rock Band... Despite not owning it myself.

That was the Christmas I decided to ask my parents for something big. The Beatles Rock Band had just come out, and I really wanted it. Up until then I had only been able to play games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band at friend's houses, and it was a game I liked. (Heck we even played it in high school from time to time!) The only thing that really kept me from getting it though, was the lack of songs I was interested in, but the Beatles changed that. So, I put the game at the top of my list, and set out to play it as much as possible before then. Yep. I played it at every Best Buy I visited, and even at a few clothing stores. There's no telling how much time I put into the game before I actually got it, but it did help cut back on the wait. Well, that and the fact I had to spend a lot of time at the bakery. Christmas was a busy time of the year, and I had to be there pretty often.

After Christmas Rock Band would go on to becoming a pretty special game for me. Something I still play all the time. 

2010 - Heavy Rain:

Heavy Rain was one of those games I was really interested in, but couldn't get at the time because I didn't have a PS3 yet. Something I changed only months before. So, the moment I finished college for the semester, I went out and got a copy of the game, and went to work playing it.

As a huge fan of crime dramas, Heavy Rain was the perfect game for me. The story pulled me in, the fact that scenes could play out in different ways kept bringing me back to it. Even after I finished the story I would load up random scenes, and try to see all the different ways I could play through it. I'd even invite friends over to check it out. I spent a surprising amount of time with the game leading up to Christmas day, but of course it wasn't the only one that held me over. Tales of the Abyss helped with that too. Even so, Heavy Rain is the game that stood out to me the most, and one I'll always have a special place for. Although, Abyss comes pretty close.

2011 - Resident Evil Mercs 3D:

A game you never see anyone talk about. The full Resident Evil Mercenaries game was an extended version of a gameplay mode found in past RE titles. It was a game mode that put you in different maps filled with enemies, and asked you to survive as long as possible. Right from the get go you have a time limit counting down, and mobs of enemies start spawning all around you. The idea is to either last until time runs out, or kill every single enemy before they get you. To do that though, you have to extend your playtime by killing enemies and breaking special items found across the map. Of course doing so also means you're more likely to die as ammo and resources become more limited, and stronger enemies start to spawn. Really it's a pretty simple game mode, but it can be a lot of fun for those who like to shoot for high scores. This is how I spent killing time in 2011.

Playing online with a friend, was great. Even though the game was simple, it was filled with challenges/missions for us to take on, and we actually did them all. Our goal was to achieve the highest ranking in them all, and somehow we actually did it! Of course getting called to the bakery prevented me from playing as much as I wanted, but it was still a great way to pass the days. Mercs 3DS quickly became one of my favorite 3DS games, and is something I still play once in awhile.

2012 - 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors:

2012 was the first time a Netto's Game Room review won GameFAQ's review of the month, and with it came a nice little gift card for Amazon. So, how did I spend it? By buying Borderlands 2 of course! That was a game I was really looking forward to playing, and the day it came I was pretty excited. I raced home from college, pulled it out of my mailbox, defrosted it using my heater (yes, the disc physically had ice on it...), and put it in my PS3 to play. That's when I realized it was in Chinese.

After sending the game back and getting a refund, I used the money to buy three 3DS/DS games instead. Golden Sun 3 (which is still wrapped up in it's package), Doctor Lautrec (does anyone remember this game?), and 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors. Now I really didn't expect too much from 999, but it was a game that seemed interesting. I had put off buying it for so long, but after trying the demo for the sequel on my Vita, I decided it was finally time to give it a chance. Man, I'm glad I did.

Not only was 999 a great way for me to pass the time leading up to Christmas, but it also became one of my favorites of all time. It was something I would discuss with friends for years, and one I would recommend to almost everyone I met. I really can't stress how much I like this game, as well as it's sequels. The only down side is that every playthrough after the first is no longer as special, and knowing the plot twist greatly changes the experience. It's still a great game though, and worth playing through again (or for the first time) now that the updated version has been released. The voice acting doesn't change the script by too much, but it's still nice to hear.

2013 - Ys: Memories of Celceta:

Christmas of 2013 is one of my worst memories. The week leading up to it was spent worrying about my uncle in the hospital, the day after was the day he died, and the following week and new years was spent dealing with funeral stuff and accepting the fact we had lost him and the bakery. It's not something I like to think back to, but if there's one good thing about it, it's that Ys: MoC was there to help keep my mind off of things. To put it simply, I love this game. The action was great, the story was interesting enough, and I liked the characters. I put a lot of hours into it, and it really did help me get through a hard time. Of course now days Ys 8 outclasses it in almost every way, but that doesn't change the fact that MoC is worth playing.

2015 - Trails of Cold Steel:

Skipping over 2014 (which was mostly me replaying Resident Evil Mercs 3D, and BlazBlue), 2015 is when I jumped head first into the Trails series. Finally picking up Trails in the Sky just the summer before, Cold Steel came out a few days before Christmas, and everything changed. Not only did Cold Steel (and the Trails series in general) become a fond Christmas memory, but it also became my full on go to series whenever I wanted to relax. It's a game I've played on nearly every major holiday (including today right before I started typing this post), and something I can see myself playing for many years to come. Considering it's something I've talked about in great detail in the past, I'll just leave it at that.

2016 - Steins;Gate 0:

And finally we come to 2016, and Steins;Gate 0. Although I continued to play Cold Steel during this time, Steins;Gate 0 is what really took the cake. I loved the original Steins;Gate, and it's sequel had me just as hooked. Funny enough, on Christmas was the day I reached the Christmas event in game, and on New Years I saw the characters in Steins;Gate celebrate it as well. I just thought it was funny how things happened to match up. Sadly I can't talk about the game itself without spoiling anything, but I can say it became yet another one of my favorites that left a hole in my heart when it ended. Thankfully Chaos;Child released this year, but a part of me still misses the old cast.

Well, I guess that about does it for this post. Guess I'll go back to watching Iron Blooded Orphans on Toonami, and playing Cold Steel 2. Just one more day to go, and Christmas will once again finally be here! Thank you guys for reading my post, and I hope to see you all again soon. (Game of the year list here I come!)
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Monday, December 4, 2017

Mega Man X1 - 8 Coming to Consoles and PC in 2018

On top of the Mega Man 11 news, Capcom has also announced that Mega Man X1 - X8 will be coming to PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC in 2018.

While the classic series is typically what is mostly talked about today, the X series marked the first time Mega Man evolved past it's "simple" platforming roots, and took full advantage of the SNES' new hardware. Taking place in the far future after the classic series, X is a much darker take on the Mega Man story as a whole. With the introduction of dashing and wall jumping, X was a much faster paced game than the originals, and it would eventually go on to spin off two sequel series as well (those being the Zero and ZX series).

Although the X series is different, the classic Mega Man charm is still there, and is a series well worth playing if you're into action platforming games. They can get quite challenging at times, but with a little practice you can master them in no time. Of course not all of the games are always held in the highest regards (especially when they jumped into 3D with X7), but they are all still fun to play.
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Mega Man 11 - Announced! (Trailer)

Well the Capcom-Unity live stream is over, and now I have some big news to share with all of you. Mega Man 11 has been announced, and you can now check out the trailer below!

Although not too much is known about the game at the moment, it is set to be released in 2018, releasing for all major consoles (and PC), uses a 2.5D hand drawn style, and is the first Mega Man game to really take the series into the next generation. It's been quite some time since we've had a new game, but now it is finally happening!

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Sonic Forces - Review

Sonic The Hedgehog. It's a series that has always been special to me, and something I've been playing since I was a little kid. I can still remember the first time I played Sonic 1 over at my cousin's house, I can picture myself watching the cartoons every morning before heading off to school, and the Christmas I got a Dream Cast and Sonic Adventure continues to be one of my favorite memories. Then when I got older, I got my start online thanks to Sonic Adventure 2 and it's official Chao BBS. It's been a long ride, and a part of me still gets excited when I get the chance to pick up a brand new game in this series. Sadly, it's been quite some time since Sonic returned to his "standard" 3D games. While Sonic Boom attempted to be a new series, and Lost World went down a more platform based path, we haven't really seen a normal Sonic 3D action game since 2011's Sonic Generations. So when Sonic Forces was announced at Sonic's birthday event in 2016 it was easy to see why they would be excited. "Finally we're getting the follow up to Generations we've been waiting for!" That's the thought many fans had that day... But how do they feel now? Roughly a year and a half after the announcement, and Sonic Forces has finally been released! But how is it? Well...

The Story:

The story of Sonic Forces is a familiar one, yet also very different. The evil Dr. Eggman has once again decided to try to take over the world, and he launches an attack. Of course, being the hero he is, Sonic quickly jumps into action to stop him, but things quickly go south. Rather than taking down Eggman like he always does, Sonic comes face to face with multiple enemies from his past (including Shadow for some reason), and is then beaten by a newcomer named "Infinite." Sonic is then thought to have been killed, Tails falls into a depression, and a resistance army built up by Sonic's remaining friends forms to take on Eggman in Sonic's place. Characters such as Knuckles, Silver, Rouge, and even the Team Chaotix members are there fighting the good fight, but they're also joined by a new character -- the player's avatar. This whole set up of forming a resistance to fight an Eggman who has already "won" is pretty similar to Sonic SATAM (the cartoon) as well as what was seen in the Sonic Comics (which continued the cartoon's story), but it doesn't really evolve too much from there.

Rather than taking the time to fully develop a story, Sonic Forces moves at a crazy fast pace. Cutscenes are quick, short, and to the point, and even the introduction of Classic Sonic (Sonic from another dimension) sorta just happens out of nowhere. He appears, he fights, and that's about it. While there are discussions between stages, these too don't really amount to much. Once again, they are short and to the point, and simply give you a reason "to do it to it." (Yes, another SATAM reference.)

The Gameplay:

Sonic Forces is the return to the Sonic Unleashed/Colors/Generations style, but with four different play styles mixed in. The game uses a mix of both 2D and 3D style gameplay, and has different character sets for each style as well.

Modern Sonic -

The first type of gameplay seen in Forces is that of "Modern Sonic's." These stages are fully 3D, and feature Sonic running through them at crazy high speeds. You collect rings that keep you alive (as if you get hit you'll lose your rings, and getting hit without at least one will kill you), you collect wisps from Sonic Colors to build up your boost, and you use boost to run at super sonic speeds and destroy every enemy in your sight. Sonic also has the ability to side step, grind on rails, switch which rails he is grinding on (by using the side step), and use an attack known as the "homing attack." Like in past games, the homing attack locks onto an enemy, has Sonic fly toward and bounce off of said enemy, and then slightly launches him into the air to either continue his attack, or do whatever else you feel like. For example, homing attack from enemy to enemy can allow you to cross gaps, but you can also instantly drop to the ground below you, or use your air boost to fly forward at higher speeds. It's really no different from what we've seen in the past, and it's Sonic's main way of attacking (outside of running enemies over with the boost). Although these stages are 3D, there are sections where it will change to a 2D side view as well. The transition happens almost instantly, but the game normally takes control of the character to avoid confusing you with the control change. On top of this, hidden red rings are placed throughout the stage for you to find as well, and there are often multiple paths to take as you make your way towards the finish line.

Classic Sonic -

Just like with Modern Sonic, the same rules of rings, collecting red rings, and taking multiple paths still apply; however, unlike Modern, Classic Sonic's stages are fully 2D. These stages are made to mirror the style from the original 2D Sonic games, and as such the modern Sonic moves and attacks have been removed as well. Rather than homing attack to kill enemies, simply jumping on them, or using the spin dash is your main way of taking them out. Classic Sonic can also jump and instantly spin dash the moment he lands, but this can also be the death of you if you don't watch out. This can sometimes be a problem for those used to holding the jump button for long periods of time, but once you get used to how it controls it can really help you out.

The Avatar -

Your Avatar is the most unique part of this game, and it's gameplay is different based on what race you choose, and what weapon your character is holding. The game allows you to choose from multiple animal types (hedgehog, cat, dog, wolf, rabbit, etc), and each type has their own abilities. For example, the hedgehog can pick up rings it's dropped from being hit, but the cat will always keep at least one ring as long as it has two or more. This means you'll need to choose an avatar with the skills that suit your styles the best, and then choose a weapon type as well. Weapons are unlocked by completing different missions or challenges from a checklist, and they too provide you with different skills. For example, the starting weapon has a flame thrower attack, and allows you to use the rocket wisp to shoot yourself upward, while a lighting based weapon (they are called "Wispons" here) will attack with a giant whip and allow you to shoot through the air following paths of rings or paths of enemies (similar to the Light Speed Dash from past Sonic games). Of course you have to pick up a Wisp to use these abilities like these, but they are always placed around the stages and easy to find.

As for how the avatar plays... It's a mix of Modern Sonic, and something all it's own. Homing attack was replaced with a graphing hook that allows you to lock onto an enemy and pull yourself towards it, but your main way of attacking is your weapon. Avatar's wont be boosting around and homing attack at high speeds like Sonic, and they are often left open to enemy attacks while they are in the air. Of course Avatar's also have access to their own style of shortcuts (which come in the form of floating objects you can swing from), and this comes more into play in the final style of gameplay Forces has to offer.

Team Gameplay -

In an almost Sonic Heroes style of gameplay, the fourth and final stage type you'll come across are the team stages. Here you play as both Modern Sonic and the Avatar to race through fully 3D stages. While one character will take the lead, you'll be able to switch between the two at a moment's notice to advance through the stages and overcome obstacles. Sonic will allow you to dash boost through multiple enemies, Avatar will let you swing from the floating ball things mentioned above, Sonic will quickly homing attack from enemy to enemy, and the Avatar will make use of wisp powers to access areas Sonic normally cannot. It's basically both character's stage types mixed into a single stage, and it actually works pretty well. There are also times where you'll do a team boost, but this just amounts to button mashing and watching a scene play out without much input from you the player. You'll see the two characters speed along destroying everything in their way, and sometimes get to move left and right as you pick up rings for some extra points.

Challenges -

To go along with everything listed above, Sonic Forces has a checklist of challenges for you to complete. These range from things as simple as equipping a piece of gear to your Avatar, to completing a stage with an S rank. Doing such challenges will in return unlock new clothing and accessories for your Avatar, and completing one of the daily challenges you get, you guessed it, each day will give you a score boost for a limited time. This makes getting S ranks in stages much easier, but the bonus only lasts for so long. Although these challenges may not amount to too much, they do give you a reason to replay previously beaten levels.

SOS Missions -

Besides the challenges, SOS missions also give you a reason to replay stages. Once in awhile you'll receive a notification that a freedom fighter (okay, fine, they're called resistance members) is in trouble and needs saving. During these moments you must go back through the area they are stuck in, and save them. Not much more too it than that...

Extra Stages -

And finally you have the extra stages you can unlock by beating levels, and completing challenges. These are mini stages that often task you with overcoming some gimmick (such as platforms that vanish, or racing exploding boxes), and simply add some extras for you to complete. Of course finishing them also unlocks more things for your Avatar, so they are worth doing -- assuming you care about your Avatar that is.

The Good and the Bad:

Sonic Forces is not an easy game to judge, and honestly it's a game that many will either like for what it is, or flat out hate it. On one hand the game's music is pretty good, the voice acting is great, the Avatar system is interesting, and it has both Modern and Classic gameplay... But on the other, it also feels like a major down grade from 2011's Sonic Generations.

While the game is fun to play through, it is also extremely short with levels that end just as they start to become fun. One minute you'll be boosting through the first mob of enemies excited to see the stage ahead of you, and then the very next you'll be going down a water slide with little interaction until you reach the goal. Stages like these don't even feel like full stages, and feel more like a mini distraction -- except they're not. Sadly this sort of thing is seen throughout the entire game, with most of the levels following a very linear path with next to no alternate routes for you to take. Mix that in with the fact that all three characters have funky jumping physics (they drop like a rock), and that can also call for some very annoying platforming sections that cannot be bypassed. These issues are most apparent in the 2D sections of the levels, but 3D sections that ask you to homing attack enemies not directly in front of you can be problematic as well. Once you jump you cannot change the aim of your homing attack, and the lock on mechanic will not always target the enemy you want to hit (thankfully this is mostly seen only during the first boss). Although the game is very easy in general (even on the game's "hard" setting), it can be a bit challenging simply due to the clunky controls and physics -- when this really shouldn't be the case. The good news is these moments are mostly isolated to a few select sections of the game, and they are spaced out throughout the story. Yes, they are annoying, but they aren't constantly in your face. Sadly the fact that there are four types of game play styles also means some characters get the shaft (Classic Sonic), even though the stages and styles are pretty well spaced out in general. Sure, this is an issue that could've been fixed by giving each character ten or so stages of their own, but that didn't happen.

Overall Sonic Forces really is a mixed bag. This is not the grand adventure some of you may have been waiting for, and it's not a game that will live up to past games content wise. Instead it's a shorter and much simpler run through Sonic's world, that can be fun to play in short bursts, and great for speed runs. Rather than being a game you'll spend hours on doing everything, it's the type of game you'll sit down and knock out in a few hours, and come back to when you feel like it. In a way, that makes it more similar to Sonic's past 2D games, rather than his 3D outings. Yes, it would've been nice if it were something more, but it can still be enjoyed as is. On the flip side the game will be expanded with DLC, and Shadow's side story was already released at launch. This free episode pack added in a few stages for Shadow to play through, provided a bit more of background story, and unlocked the ability to play as Shadow in all Modern Sonic stages. While it isn't much, it's still nice to finally be able to play as Shadow again. Let's just hope these free updates continue, because Shadow wasn't the only thing missing from the final game... But let's avoid talking about that due to spoilers...
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Thursday, November 2, 2017

.hack//GU Last Recode - Launch Trailer

It's finally back. .hack//GU Last Recode is releasing tomorrow, and once again we get to log into The World. This collection not only contains all of .hack//GU (Volumes 1-3), but a brand new 4th volume has been added as well. It doesn't matter if you're a long time fan, or a newcomer, this is a game for everyone. Check out the brand new trailer below, and for more information on .hack, just click the ".hack" tag below to see our past posts.

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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween!

Well it's Halloween again, and once again the years fly on by! Of course I rarely do anything for Halloween (outside of celebrating my grandpa's birthday), but it seems like every year I end up spending the rest of the playing some sort of game -- and it's typically the same game! I guess it's just the dates they release on, but it almost never fails. So what is this game/series I'm talking about? Assassin's Creed of course.

The AC series is something I'll play to kill time during Thanksgiving too, but with a lot of the games releasing in October, I end up having it for Halloween as well. In one case though, things were a bit different, and a (somewhat) funny story came out of it.

You see Assassin's Creed II was finally coming out in just a few weeks, and I couldn't wait. To get myself ready for the next chapter I decided to spend some time with the original game. It was my first year in college at the time, and I remember my mom's friend stopping by with her young kids. I didn't think much about it, but as soon as they looked in my room and saw me riding a horse, they flipped. The problem? The moment they started walking in here I had already left the horse, and had a knife jabbed through some guard's neck. I paused the game instantly, and sat there looking at the kids as they eagerly waited for me to unpause so they could see what I was playing... Yeah, that wasn't easy to do.

I don't remember how I managed to pull it off (maybe I shut the TV off and unpaused?) But afterwords the kids stayed in my room and watched me play. I had to do my best to avoid killing people, but they were excited to see me riding around again. I’m not sure how long they stayed watching me, but they seemed to really like the game (or at least what I was able to show them). Of course I didn’t tell them the name of the game, or tell their parents what one it was.

That wouldn’t be the first, or the last, time I had to hide the game from them, but it was the only time in Halloween. When AC2 came out a month later it happened again, but oh well.

Anyway that’s just one of the stories Halloween reminds me of — at least gaming related stories. It’s a fond memory now, and it’s something I think back to as I’ve been playing Origins. I’m sure those kids are grown up now... Maybe they can finally play it for themselves?
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"You Have My Game" - Short Story/Creepypasta(?)

Well for Halloween I wanted to do something different, and it also kept me from making a post yesterday. I wasn't really sure if I should be posting this or not, but after going over it a few times I figured there would be no harm done. Everyone likes a "scary story" from time to time, and hopefully this is one you've never heard before. Actually, I'm 100% sure you haven't. While I'm not allowed to go into the details of the origins of this story, let's just say I've been given full permission to post it, and I was asked that it not be shared outside of Netto's Game Room unless linked to the original source (being this post).

So anyway, I hope you guys enjoy. It might be a bit amateurish (yes, I'm apparently allowed to call it that as well) , but maybe some of you will like it? Just keep in mind that there may be some disturbing moments in this, but the language is clean (unless I overlooked something somehow). Well, once again, hope you guys enjoy!

You Have My Game 
© 2017

When I was seventeen me and my family packed up our belongings and moved to a small town in Texas. I wasn't thrilled about leaving everything behind, but as someone still in high school I had no choice. Saying goodbye to all my friends was hard, but knowing I could contact them online at any given time was comforting. "Hey man, see ya later! Get on the group chat when you can! Send a text when you get there!" Maybe these weren't their exact words, but it is close enough. At that time social media was still in it's early days, with websites now long forgotten as the kings, instant messaging programs were popular, and even basic cell phones had the ability to text. Thanks to this, you never really felt alone. I told myself that I would keep in contact with them and everything would stay the same, but I knew deep down that this was a lie. We would eventually grow apart, and I would just have to accept that. Besides, in just a year most of us would be going away to college anyway.

My new house was nice. There were two floors, and I was able to pick out which room I wanted. As an only child I didn't have to worry about fighting for it, and my parents were fine with either option. So I chose the room with a window overlooking the back yard, and began setting up my stuff. We wouldn't have internet for awhile sadly, so I was unable to join that group chat my friends had asked me to, but I did make sure to text each and every single one to know that I had made it. They were happy I was okay, but I couldn't help but feel strange as I read their messages. Maybe they seemed too happy?

Starting a new school wasn't easy, and I wasn't motivated to make new friends. I wouldn't be there for more than a year, so I focused on doing whatever I needed for college. I studied hard, spent less time talking to my friends online, cut out playing video games, and I even began looking for outside work. Anything I could put on an application to look good was fine, as long as it didn't take up too much time; I couldn't fall behind on my studies. I'm not fully sure why I became so dedicated to my school work, but if I had to guess... I wanted to show the others. Show them that one day I would become something more. You see, despite ignoring my new "classmates," they didn't ignore me.

The job I ended up going with was what I thought would be a simple one. There was an old man -- one I'll be calling "Mr. A" from now on -- who lived alone and need someone to talk to. I didn't know much about him, but this sort of thing was pretty common. They don't want to leave their home and go to a full care facility (who could blame them?), and their families worry about them and want someone to check on them from time to time. The job was unpaid, of course, and the guy only lived a few blocks over from me, so it was actually perfect. I only had to visit once every few days, talk to him for a bit, help with whatever he needed, and then get out. It left me with plenty of time in the evening, and it would go right at the top of my resume.

Mr. A was a boring man. He didn't say much, or do much. Once I spent the entire visit watching some documentary about who knows what (I'm pretty sure I actually fell asleep), and another time he had me help clean his house. He didn't have any stories to share, and no matter what questions I asked him he refused to answer. His family posted the job at the volunteer agency I went through, but I didn't even know anything about them. No pictures on the walls of Mr. A's house, no letters in the mail, no phone calls, and seemingly no past. This was an old man who sat at home, and that was it. Apparently he still drove and he did his own shopping, but he didn't seem to have any hobbies. Eventually I started to wonder why I was even going there, but I guess I should've been thankful it was so easy. I would talk to him about what I was studying at school to kill time, but who knows if he was even listening. But then, things changed.

I'll be honest. The house creeped me out. It was old, poorly lit, and reminded me of a funeral home. There were rooms closed off and locked, and never once did Mr. A offer to show me what was inside. Sure I had no reason to ask him either, but after a few months of visiting him you would've thought he'd bring it up. And shockingly, he did. (Yes, the "never once" was a lie.)

It happened one Sunday afternoon when I was getting ready to leave for the day. Mr. A was sitting on the couch watching yet another documentary, and I was getting ready to take his trash with me on my way out. As I said goodbye and turned the door knob I had a funny feeling and looked back at him. Rather than seeing the boring old man I had come to know, there he sat with a smile on his face -- something I had never seen him do.

"Hey" he said (which was also out of character for him). "Can you do me a favor before you leave?"

It turned out he wanted me to toss some things from his son's old room -- the son I had never even heard about. After all this time he had never once mentioned family, and now here he was talking about it out of the blue. I had always imagined what it would be like if he actually spoke his mind, but now that it was happening I didn't know what to say. Instead I simply listened to his request, and made my way to the newly opened room down the hall.

There wasn't much in the old room, but there were some boxes piled up in the corner. Mr. A must've been packing things up on his own earlier, and now wanted me to finish the job of chucking them. Looking back I wish I would've, but curiosity got the better of me. Rather than throwing them away, I opened the boxes and began digging through them. I'm not sure what I expected to see, but I was quite surprised when I found nothing but ancient electronics! Everything from old storage devices (ones that were so large they would crush my desktop's tower), to wires, to even an old "iconic" PC. Although I didn't quite know the state laws, I was pretty sure the dump wouldn't take any of it. That's when I went to go tell Mr. A this, but then something else caught my eye.

It was small, square, flat, and gray in color. There was a slit in the bottom of it with electrical contacts inside. Although there was no picture, there was a small piece of paper taped to it with the name "Jim" written on it. I wasn't sure if Jim was Mr. A's son's name, but I was sure about what I was holding. Even though the design was slightly different and clearly home made, there was no doubt in my mind that I was holding a classic handheld video game.

"That's my son's!!!" Mr. A's voice startled me as he seemingly appeared out of nowhere. (Or maybe he was watching me the whole time?)

I felt a little bad about digging through his stuff, but that soon passed as Mr. A began to explain. According to him his son had dreams of "making those stupid games," and had spent a lot of time working with PCs. Eventually he "grew up" and got a real job, and left everything behind. Mr. A wouldn't tell me what he was doing now days, or why he gave up on his dream, but I didn't really care anyway. If anything I was more interested in the game itself, and the old man let me have it. (He was going to throw it out anyway.)

That night I did something I hadn't in years -- I dug out my old handheld device. I had it stored in a box in the basement, and stupid me also forgot to take the batteries out before putting it away. Thankfully I was able to scrape the hardened gunk off of the contacts and power the console on, but the "Jim" game did not work. I checked another old game I had stored in a separate box just to be sure, and it worked just fine -- I even played it for a few minutes with the use of a flashlight to see (as old screens did not light themselves up). This confirmed the hardware was good, but the game I had just gotten wasn't. "Oh well," I thought. Not like I expected much from an old homebrew anyway.

The next day was the fallout. After school I logged into the group chat to talk to my friends about Jim, and instead found myself in the middle of what I'd call an attack. I guess they didn't notice I was there, but let's just say they held nothing back. My so called "friends" couldn't stand me, and I had caught them sharing their true feelings. What followed wasn't pretty, and it ended with me smashing my phone against the wall. Not like anyone was going to call me anyway... I left the group chat as well, and deactivated my account. Good riddance. I'd just make new friends in college. Just as I was about to get off my PC and cover up the hole in the wall, I suddenly felt like checking my email. Not sure why (who was going to email me?), but that's when I saw.

"You have my game," the email was titled. I thought it was strange, but I instantly my mind jumped to the game Mr. A gave me the day before. It must have been from his son, but when I opened the email there was nothing inside. The email only had a title, and it didn't tell me anything about what he wanted. Did he want the game back? That's fine, he could have it. When I went to reply to the email however, I noticed something strange. The email had actually come from myself -- or rather, he had used my email as his own.

Considering "Jim," or whatever his name was (was "Jim" the game's name? I still didn't know), was skilled when it came to programming, it wasn't too surprising to see he knew how to do this. I couldn't do it myself, but I was sure some program existed to mask your email address. What was odd though, was why he did it in the first place. If he wanted the game back why didn't he just say so? Why did he hide his address? And how did he know? Did his dad tell him? I guess that was obvious, but it was still strange to me. Mr. A, a man who never talked about his family, was suddenly telling his son he gave his game away to me? The very same game he was going to throw away? It didn't add up. Deciding I should just ask Mr. A myself, I headed over to his house right after eating dinner. Monday wasn't when I was scheduled to stop by again, but I wanted to get to the bottom of this. I didn't need strange emails to distract me from my studies.

Mr. A wasn't happy. For a man who never showed emotion, he had quite the violent side to him. As soon as I mentioned his son and the game he had given me, he flipped. "WHO TOLD YOU TO GO IN THAT ROOM!? YOU STOLE FROM ME!? I'M CALLING THE COPS YOU ----! GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!" Okay, maybe his words weren't as nice as that, but you get the point. Apparently he never asked me to go into that back room, and he never gave me the game -- which I ended up keeping. I wasn't giving it back to someone so far gone. It was really quite sad, and I was kicking myself for not realizing it sooner. So I went back to the agency that had assigned me there, and let them know what had happened. They instantly took me off the job, thanked me for all my help, and said they'd let me know when something else opened up. I'm assuming the old man was put in a nursing home after, but I never saw him again.

The emails never stopped. Each day I'd get a new one, and each time it was the same. "You have my game" as the title, and no message inside. I even tried changing my email address, but somehow the guy found it each time. I guess it wasn't hurting anything, but a feeling of dread would constantly rush over me each time I saw it. I didn't like the idea of being stalked, and I had no idea how he was doing it. All my virus scans came up clean, and when I went back to the agency to learn about the old man's family, my request for information was denied. (I should've asked the day I turned him in for being nuts...) Nothing I tried turned up any information about this guy, and even my searches online came up empty. According to the internet, Mr. A had no son... Of course this was a lie. He did have a son, and now he was hiding himself from me. If he had the tools to mess with my email, I was sure erasing his online info would be a cake walk as well.

A week or so later I woke up sick. I could hardly get out of bed, and spent most of the day in the bathroom trying to keep down whatever I ate the day before. School was out of the question, and I couldn't even get myself to get on the PC. I hadn't checked my email in a few days, but by that time I didn't see much of a point. I already knew what was sitting in my inbox, and I no longer cared. He could spam me all he wanted, and it wouldn't change a thing. So instead I lied in bed, and let my mind wonder as I faded in and out of consciousness. Until I heard the back door slam shut. At first I thought I was dreaming, but when I looked out the window I could see something on my front step. I couldn't make out what it was, but I assumed it was some sort of package. So I dragged myself out of bed, walked down stairs, and opened my back door. What awaited me was something I had never imagined.

Whatever I was keeping down before, didn't stay down. On my back step was something so horrific, I don't even have words to describe it. It was pretty big sized, was black in color, and it looked like it had been buried under ground for a few years. It's body was degraded. There were pieces of flesh hanging from it's exposed insides. Flies swarmed it, and it's half skeleton legs were bent towards me in the wrong direction. It's face was dried and sunken in, yet somewhat in tact, and it's neck still had the collar I had bought for him many years ago. He was my best friend growing up, and now he was back.

The feeling was unimaginable. All the blood left my body, and all I could get myself to do was scream and thrash about. I felt so helpless. I felt like I wanted to bash someone's face in! I wanted to destroy everything in my sight! I had no idea how to handle this, and I still don't know how to put it into words! I was in complete despair, and there was nothing I could do about it. But then, I saw it. Sticking between what I assumed was a rib cage was a small piece of paper. By this point my stomach was empty, and I had nothing to lose. I reached towards my childhood dog, grabbed it, and slowly unfolded it to see what it was. Written inside were the simple words "You have my game," followed by "Tell no one."

I buried my dog in the back yard that day. I could tell my fever was getting worse, but I had to hide it as soon as possible. Before I had thought this guy was only messing with me online, but if he was able to track down my old home address out of state, find where my dog was, and bring it to my new home... He could do anything. If my parents were to find out, or if I were to call the police, there was no telling what he would do. That's when I realized something even more unsettling -- I had forgotten all about the door. I had checked the door because I heard it closed, but why was that? Why was the door opened if the dog was left outside? Did that mean he had come into the house? Or was he there to begin with...? Thankfully nothing else happened that day. When my parents came home they could tell I was upset, but they just assumed it was because I was sick. They saw the vomit outside as well. (Stupid me had forgotten to clean it up.) I ended up spending the rest of the night trying to sleep in my room, but I couldn't. That image wouldn't leave my mind. It was an image that would haunt me for the rest of my life.

After the dog incident, things only got worse. I was falling behind in my studies, and I turned down every job offer the agency came to me with. I tried my best to hide it from my parents, but I think they knew. Instead of doing homework, each night I'd browser the internet for other stories similar to what I was going through, and that eventually lead me somewhere else -- ghost stories. I never believed in ghosts, and I seriously doubted it was related to the crazy hacker I was dealing with, but I checked it out anyway. Then, I wish I hadn't.

Maybe Jim was behind it somehow, but strange things started happening in that house. At night I could hear the sounds of people talking. Voices I had never heard before. When I'd go to the bath room I'd catch a glimpse of something in the mirror that wasn't there. White lights would flash in the halls, and every once in awhile I'd hear a music box playing in the basement. This I did mention to my parents, but they brushed it all off like I was crazy. "Maybe you're stressing out too much about school, you should relax." That is the only excuse I could remember, but I knew it was wrong. If anything I was worried about Jim, and what he might've done to my home. Even so, that didn't explain the scratch marks I awoke to each day.

Before I knew it, the school year was almost over and I was failing. Teachers gave me extra credit to help boost my score, but it didn't look good and I was recommended for tutoring. I continued to check the emails each day too, scared something might happen if I missed a day, and nothing ever changed. The message was always "You have my game," and I couldn't contact Jim to give it back. So, I decided to get rid of it. I wasn't sure how He would react, but I was hoping he would leave me alone after it was gone. So I went down into my basement to get it.

That day I remember having another one of those funny feelings, like something was telling me to stay out of the basement. I wasn't sure what it was, but I ignored it and went down anyway. I couldn't hear the music box that time, but when I reached the bottom step a loud buzzing sound overtook all my senses. The world went dark, I felt like I was spinning, and before long my body crashed into the basement wall. I leaned against it for what seemed like hours, and eventually it passed, but what my eyes opened to was nothing like I had ever seen before. The basement had changed.

"This is a dream." I told myself this over and over again, but it didn't wake me up. In front of me was a nightmare, and there was no escape. The walls of the room had turned bright red, I could smell what could be described as burning rubber, and intense screams blocked out all other sound. There was a pool of some sort of liquid around my feet, and with each step it felt as if my feet were sinking into the ground. There were... Black things laying on the ground too. They looked human in shape, but they weren't human. What were they? Then the music started. It sounded like a carnival. There was dancing, and singing too. The screams stopped but the singing didn't feel happy either. It was like they were forced to sing. What were they? The world spun, and just as I thought I was about to pass out I heard someone's voice.

"Did you see the sun?"

I don't remember much after, but as I looked up at the sky I heard sirens, and then felt something pulling me away into the darkness. The next time I woke up I was in a hospital bed, and a bandage had been wrapped around my head. It took awhile for them to explain what had happened to me, but apparently I had fallen and bashed my head against the steps in the basement. When my parents came home they found me standing in my own blood, and leaning against the wall. I was lucky they found me in time.

Although I was awake then, my real nightmare wasn't over. The game still existed, and there was no one home to check my emails. Scared of what Jim might do if I missed one, I asked my parents for a favor. I told them that I had gone to the basement to get a game I wanted to throw out, and then asked them if they could throw it away for me. They both looked confused on why I wanted to get rid of it so badly, but eventually I convinced them. Don't know how. I was still going to miss an email though, so I was scared what was going to happen next. Thinking back on it now... If Jim was in my house, why didn't he just take it back for himself? Unless, was it really a ghost? Ha, yeah right.

When I opened my eyes the fire had already started. The hospital staff was scrambling to get the patients out, and I was being lead out of the room as well. They wanted me to stay in bed and rest for another day, but that wasn't an option. My IVs were pulled out, and I was racing down a hallway as flames shot up all around. The sprinkler system had failed to kick in, and who knew how long it would take the fire department to get there. All that mattered was escaping, and it was every man for himself. Of course, I had a feeling why they weren't working. And why the fire started to begin with. It was my fault. It had to be. I can't remember exactly how I got out of that building, but when I reached the streets it was strangely calm. I had lost track of the nurse who came to get me, but I didn't care. As long as that game existed in my house, things like this would keep happening to me. I had to go home and destroy it myself.

I tried to run home, I really did. I wanted to get there as soon as possible, but my body wouldn't let me. Instead I passed out -- or at least I think I did. I was walking down the street trying to keep my hospital gown closed, but with each step I felt the energy drain from my body. Just as I had done before, when I opened my eyes I found myself in a familiar place, and I instantly wanted to leave. You see, the city had become just like my dream. The sky was dark, and the city buildings of flesh and blood towered above me. The ground was even softer than before, and I almost sank into a hole trying to escape the thing behind me. I could hear my dog barking in the distance, and I wanted to go help him, but I had to cross a pit of lobsters first. They hurt when they pinch you. Hurt bad. Eventually I found the piano man and he played me a song. That tune still haunts me, but it's what helped me go on. Eventually I decided to take a break under the marry-go-round tree, but it only made me dizzy. I also didn't like sleeping in that place. I had to go home, and sleeping wasn't going to get me there faster.

Sometimes I can't move my arms. I wake up and it's like I'm tied to the table. A table like the one in Mr. A's graveyard. Yeah that table was hard. What was Mr. A's name again? I don't remember, so I'll just call him Mr. A. Eventually I found the door keeper, and he asked me to tell him a story. If I did, I could finally go home. So I began: "When I was seventeen me and my family packed up our belongings and moved to a small town in Texas. I wasn't thrilled about leaving everything behind, but as someone still in high school I had no choice. Saying goodbye to all my friends was hard, but knowing I could contact them online at any given time was comforting. "Hey man, see ya later! Get on the group chat when you can! Send a text when you get there!" Maybe these weren't their exact words, but it is close enough. At that time social media was still in it's early days, with websites now long forgotten as the kings, instant messaging programs were popular, and even basic cell phones had the ability to text. Thanks to this, you never really felt alone. I told myself that I would keep in contact with them and everything would stay the same, but I knew deep down that this was a lie. We would eventually grow apart, and I would just have to accept that. Besides, in just a year most of us would be going away to college anyway." Huh, college. Was I really going to go?

As I spoke each word the door man wrote them down. No, wait, that's the sound of keys typing. He typed them. Yeah he typed them down. I can still hear it... Is he still typing this? Is he typing what I'm saying now? Why? Can I go home now? I have to destroy Jim. It's all Jim's fault. It... It's all Jim's fault. Please door keep man. Please, if you find Jim. The old game. That game. You have to destroy it. Save me from this world... Yeah, me... What was my name again?


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