Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Ben's Top Horror - #8: Dead Rising 2

Dead Rising 2! Man this game was great. I know I reviewed Dead Rising 1 years ago, but I never really said just how much I love this series. So today with number 8 on my count down, I want to fix that!

When the first Dead Rising came out I had no interest in it what so ever. In fact I didn't care about the Xbox 360! Nope I was all about the Nintendo Wii, because "Xbox Sux!" Yeah, I grew out of that pretty fast. Anyway the first time I heard about Dead Rising was actually when looking up information about Mega Man X. Dead Rising 1 featured some eastereggs for the series (Z-Saber, X-Buster, and even the Servbots from Mega Man Legends), and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Still I wasn't a fan of zombies, and I didn't have an Xbox. Heck even when the game came out for the Wii I didn't give it a chance, because again, Zombies. After I had my 360 for about a year however, I did finally decide to give the game a try, and man am I glad I did.

I still remember debating getting it, and looking at videos online. It was a Friday afternoon and a friend and I were watching gameplay clips of it on YouTube. We were sitting in the cafe at our college, and looking for something to do when he came over to my house later. I mentioned Dead Rising somewhat randomly, and after we both looked into it a bit more we decided to try it out. So on my way home that night I stopped by GameStop to grab a copy, and then waited for him before I started it up. The two of us then spent the rest of the night glued to the TV. It was amazing.

When Dead Rising 2 came out I was a little hesitant to get it. As I've mentioned in the last two games of this list, I WAS A POOR COLLEGE STUDENT! Brand new $60 games were games I had to choose wisely. I only had enough extra funds for maybe one game every month or two, so I had to be completely sure that the game I was buying was worth it. But then when I found out about the game's co-op, and saw other friends of mine playing it online, I pretty much just caved. Actually when a cousin of mine came over and hyped the game, that's what finally pushed me to buy it. In fact shortly after we both got in my car, and I drove us over to GameStop to pick it up. After that I spent all of my free time playing it for months to come.

The thing that makes Dead Rising so fun is it's setting. You have a mall (or in 2's case a Mall/Casino) that you are free to explore, with everything in the mall becoming your weapons. You can put on clothes to customize your character, and you're free to use anything you can grab to kill zombies. It's like when you're a kid wishing you could have a mall and all it's toys to yourself, and finally having that dream is become a reality... With zombies. It's just a fun setting, and there's so much to do before the game ends.

Another thing that makes the Dead Rising series unique is the time limit. Different events happen at different times, and it's up to you to decide what's worth doing or not. The first time you play through the story it's unlikely that you'll save everyone, see all side stories, or even fight all bosses to get the true ending, but the game is short enough that new game plus playthroughs are easy to get through. Your character progress carries over each time, so you never really lose anything. This same play style carried over into Dead Rising 2, but on a much larger scale.

With DR2 not only do you get a larger world with more side stories and what not to complete, but there is a much wider verity of items to pick up and use, AND they added the ability to mix things together to create unique new weapons. For example mixing knives with a boxing glove will give you Wolverine hands to slash things to pieces. Or you can stick nails into a bat, or strap machine guns to a wheel chair! Then you also have crazy unrealistic combos like the flash light and gems to create a beam saber to slice zombies in half. These weapon combos add a lot of verity to the already massive pool of weapons, and they helped make each player a bit more unique when playing online. Which was another great addition.

Being able to jump into anyone's game at any time was amazing. You loaded into their world with your current gear/skills/weapons, and you got to keep whatever you found in their world. Find a new weapon recipe you missed? Now you've got it. Level up and unlock some new skills? Bring those new stats back to your own game for an easier time. It was basically new game plus at any time, without actually having to restart your own save file. And as long as you still had friends (or even random people) playing, you had an unlimited amount of fun to be had. It was just perfect. (Well, except for the loading screens).

Although Dead Rising 2 is technically a horror game, that's not something that should scare people off. Yes it's zombies, but everything is handled in such an over top manner that it really isn't scary. The horror elements of the game actually come from a lot of the bosses you encounter throughout the story. Often these scenes will feature disturbing content or jump scares, but they don't last long at all. That doesn't mean they won't lose a lasting impression, but it's easy to overlook then if you are bothered by them. That being said, what little horror is here is great, and the gameplay is spot on. Really I could've put this game higher on this list, but oh well. Really good game! Go play it if you haven't!

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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Ben's Top Horror - #9: Beyond: Two Souls

Beyond: Two Souls is a game I reviewed in the past, but that's not going to stop me from putting it on this list. (And yes, I'm reusing some of the same pictures.)

When Heavy Rain came out on PS3 I didn't know what to think of it. The concept of it being a "movie like game" interested me, but I wasn't sure how I felt about letting characters die and missing out on story. I guess it didn't really matter though, because the game was a PS3 exclusive, and I only had an Xbox 360. Even so, I kept my eye on the game and put it down on my list of "games to get if I ever get a PS3." Needless to say, that's exactly what I did.

Although Heavy Rain wasn't one of my first choices, it was one of my early PS3 titles. Back then I didn't have wifi so I mainly stuck to single player PS3 games, and because of that Heavy Rain was clearly a good choice for me. Even so, I was still a poor college student back then (heck, I bought my PS3 with tip money I had saved up for about a year), and what games I got was limited. But then one day I caved.

Even though the game might not be for everyone, Heavy Rain quickly became one of my favorite PS3 titles. The story had me hooked from start to finish, I loved the characters, and I loved the mystery. I got the game around the same time I started getting into crime dramas (such as Bones) so it was a perfect fit for me, and I never wanted it to end. Of course it really isn't that long of a game, so I had finished it within the week. Afterwords I would go back to it from time to time (even played through parts of it with friends who came over), but it just wasn't the same after you finish it once. Knowing the answers takes a lot out of it unfortunately, but at least there was the hope of a follow up release. That's when we saw Kara.

We didn't know it at the time, but Kara was a tech demo showing off what the PS3 was still capable of. It looked great, and the story about cyborgs seemed interesting; however, this was not going to be the team's next game. Instead Kara would be shelved for quite some time (to become Detroit: Become Human later on), and Beyond: Two Souls would be taking it's place as one of the PS3's final send offs. I'll admit it didn't interest me as much as Kara, but it seemed like a cool idea. And then I played it.

Rather than being a crime drama like the previous game, Beyond followed the story of a young girl named Jodie, who was born different than everyone else. Instead of being a single person, Jodie is never alone. Ever since she was born a strange "entity" named Aiden has been with her. He played with her as a child, protected her from danger, and let the world know when he was upset. This caused people to fear Jodie, making it impossible for her to live a normal life.

While you can't completely call Beyond a horror game, it's another title that really pushes the limits. Instead of following Jodie's life in chronological order, each chapter jumps to a different moment in time, and leaves blanks in the story for you to slowly figure out for yourself. The game begins with Jodie working with the CIA, but quickly then jumps back to her childhood. In both cases Aiden plays a key role in the story, but in each chapter he's seen a bit differently. For example, in the opening, Aiden acts more as a tool to help Jodie complete her mission. He doesn't fully listen to her (as you have control over Aiden and can do as you wish), but it's clear his talents are a very useful tool. In the next chapter showing Jodie's childhood however, he's something to be feared. Jodie is picked on and hated for being different, and this angers Aiden -- who then goes on a rampage and can possibly nearly kill everyone despite Jodie asking him to stop. It's at moments like these you realize this "thing" called Aiden might not be something you want to mess with.

After these early events things begin to change. Although Aiden himself was always a bit creepy, it's not until the "house" that you realize maybe Aiden isn't what you should be afraid of. I can still remember starting this chapter late at night, and not knowing what to expect. It begins with little Jodie looking out the window of her house, wanting to go outside to play. She can't however, and instead has to make due with staying inside. However, what starts out as an innocent child playing in her home, soon becomes something else entirely. Although the chapter itself isn't too "scary," it sets the tone for the rest of the game. As Jodie plays weird things start happening around her that's not Aiden's fault. The music changes, the camera angles suggest something else is right around the corner, and the lighting gives you a sense of danger as you slowly walk towards your goal. Mix in a few jump scares, and some sights you cannot explain, and you've got a perfect setup for the rest of the game.

As Beyond continues, there are multiple story arcs of strange/unexplained events. While some of it is related to what happens in her childhood home, other stories revolve around self contained urban legends. Without going into spoilers, a lot of what is seen is reminiscent of old shows like Courage the Cowardly Dog. It's nightmare fuel that's hard to describe, and it leaves you with a sense of uncertainty. Just what is it you are seeing? What is it you can trust? There are so many questions, and just when you think you have things figured out, it all changes. You never know what to expect, or what you might see, and that's what makes it great. Those uneasy moments are easily some of the best Beyond has to offer. While many games with horror elements make you want to run away from the unknown, Beyond makes you want to run towards it. In the end, despite no longer being a crime drama, Beyond is still a mystery, and it's one you want to solve.

Even though I still consider Heavy Rain to be my favorite, Beyond: Two Souls is one I actually come back to more often. I've beaten the game four or five times now, and it's great coming back to it around Halloween. It isn't the scariest game out there, but the suspense and the creatures lurking in the shadows makes it an interesting experience that everyone should at least try for themselves. That's why Beyond has claimed number 9 on this list.
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Monday, October 21, 2019

Ben's Top Horror - #10: The 3rd Birthday

The 3rd Birthday is the third entry in the Parasite Eve series that many never even realized existed. It's the black sheep of the series, but it's also one that is very special to me.

When the original Parasite Eve came out I was terrified by it. A video of it came with the demo disc on my PS1, but it was just too much for the (roughly) 7 year old me to handle. As soon as I put that disc in and the preview video started playing, I hurried up and scrolled down as fast as I could so I didn't see anymore than I had to. The music, the CGI art style, it all freaked me out, and I wanted nothing to do with it... Never once did I think it would become one of my favorite horror series of all time.

Many (many) years later, things changed. One day after college I was browsing through some upcoming game lists online, and I came across a game called The 3rd Birthday. I didn't known what this "Parasite Eve" series was at the time, but the game was by Square-Enix, and that was enough for me. I had just recently got into their games (putting aside Kingdom Hearts), and I was itching for more. So I did what anyone else would do, and went over to YouTube to see what it was all about. That's when I realized something... "I know this." That opening video to PE1 was the very same video that haunted me as a kid.

Of course as an adult it no longer bothered me. In fact I sat there and watched an entire playthrough (something I almost NEVER do) of the game, and then tracked down some videos for PE2. Later on I would go on to buy them myself, but as a poor college kid I was limited a lot more by what I could get and when I could get it -- so YouTube was my only real option at the time. And needless to say, I liked what I saw. Everything about the game drew me in. It's gameplay was unique, it's story was interesting, and I really liked the characters! Then Parasite Eve 2 came along with it's Resident Evil style gameplay (which was a series I had yet to play), and introduced a few more characters who would become key to the story. After everything was said and done, I couldn't wait for The 3rd Birthday. Then one day many months later, it came out.

I still remember that night. My parents and I were going to the local Walmart to get food for the week, and we stopped by the newly built GameStop on the way back. I walked up to the counter, showed the guy my drivers license, then walked out of there with my brand new PSP game. I had brought my PSP along with me so I was able to play it on the way home (something I can't recall doing since that day), and I was sitting in the back seat so the brightness of the screen didn't bother anyone. The moment I turned that game on though, I was lost in that world and I never wanted it to end.

Although I have to admit that The 3rd Birthday isn't the best game in the world, it's still one I really REALLY enjoy. It was a 3rd person shooter on the PSP, so obviously there had to be some compromises with the camera and lock on system for it to work, but it honestly wasn't a problem. The game had a unique story where Aya could send her mind back in time to alter history, and to do so she took control of people who were there at the time. So rather than playing through the levels in your own body, you jumped between different people on the battlefield. Of course you still "looked" like Aya from your own point of view, but you technically were playing as different characters all the time.

This allowed for some interesting gameplay, that no other game (besides maybe that failed Mindjack game) has replicated. By sending your mind between different characters, you were able to avoid damage, and flank whatever enemies it was you were trying to fight. For example, if a large energy blast was heading towards you and you didn't have time to dodge, you could simply abandon your body and jump to someone else across the area. Sure that means the guy you were originally playing as would die (leaving one less character to play as in the process), but at least it saved you for the time being. Other times you could use this same ability to jump to higher vantage points, or even access secret areas within the level. The ability could also be used on weakened enemies to deal massive damage, but it was more for boss fights than your average run of the mill mobs. Still it was cool pulling it off, as Aya's mind raced at the enemy at high speeds and basically exploded inside of them.

As for the game's story and structure, it was quite a bit different. The director was none other than Hajime Tabata (now known as the Final Fantasy XV guy by many), and back then his games tended to have a specific chapter based style. Each game's chapter would open up with a cutscene letting you know what is going on, then you'd be free to explore a small hub area with NPCs to talk to, and then you'd finally be sent off on your mission. In Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Zack would explore some key areas of Midgar while talking to his fellow SOLDIERS to learn about the world, in the later released Type-0 the character you decided to play as would walk around the school before finally being sent out to war, and in 3rd Birthday's case you get to walk around your "police" HQ before being sent back in time. A lot of the story telling actually comes from these slower moments, and if you've played any of the other games at all, you'll instantly notice the pattern -- and you'll also know what to expect from the game's second half. It might not be the same as Parasite Eve 1 and 2, but the style works, and it changes things up before it gets stale.

Now you might be asking, where is the horror? Well The 3rd Birthday isn't quite as tense as the first two games (with one focusing on people and animals mutating into monsters and bursting into flames), or with 2's monster filled city setting, but it does still have it's moments. The main enemies of the games are horrifying alien like monsters, that have formed giant tentacles that wrap around the city. While they might not be scary to look at, the things you see them do can be pretty disturbing. One early scene in particular has them attacking a group of people at a rock concert. After the first few are grabbed, they explode into a gory mess with blood falling constantly like rain. Another man rolls across the ground covered in the stuff, and soon explodes right before Aya's eyes. It's times like these that are some of the most graphic moments you'll ever see in a PSP in general, and the main reason the game received it's M rating. Outside of this though, the game is pretty mild, and what you'd expect out of any alien shooter game. There are no jump scares, or creepy atmospheres to speak of, it's just the end of the world story and graphic content that pushes the boundary between horror and not. Still, that's not a bad thing. Not all "horror" games need to be a terrifying nightmare. Sometimes they are just fine when sitting on the edge.

That's why The 3rd Birthday is number 10 on this list, and why it'll always be one of my favorite PSP games. 
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Ben's Top 10 Horror Games

It's been a few months, but I'm back for Halloween! Lately I haven't had much time to post on here, but I'm sure you guys are used to that by now. I wish I had more time like I used to, but that's simply not the case. Even so I'd like to try to be more active again, and to kick things off I'm going to start with this year's series of Halloween posts. Normally I try to do something each year, but this time instead of releasing a review or something, I wanted to list what I consider to be my favorite horror games of all time. Now that doesn't mean I'd call these the "best" horror games, but rather ones I personally really enjoy. These games won't be pure horror either, but rather games with horror settings or elements. (I'm also going to try to limit it to one game per series, but I am making ONE exception for a very specific reason... More on that in roughly a week!)

Each day a new post is going to go up around noon central time, and in each post I'll basically be discussing what the game is and why I like it. These won't be reviews though, so I won't be going into too much detail -- just the basics. Some of these games may have been mentioned here before as well, but I promise most will be something new. Really it was hard for me to decide exactly what to put on this list, but with all things considered I think I narrowed it down pretty well. Sure there were other games I'd like to talk about too, but oh well, there's always next year.

Anyway, thanks for reading what I have to say! Look forward to the first post in about an hour. And again sorry for being so inactive over the past few years. Hopefully that will change very soon.
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Sunday, July 7, 2019

Final Fantasy XIV - Worth Getting Into Now?

Yes, I completely skipped all of the E3 news this year. The reason? Well, it's covered by everyone and everything. While I do have my own thoughts on what was announced, there's really not much that I could say that hasn't been said before. The trailers and gameplay videos speak for themselves, and there are plenty of videos out there for anyone who couldn't watch the shows live. That being said though, I would like to discuss one game that was touched upon, as it is more relevant today than it was during E3. That game being Final Fantasy XIV.

With the release of Shadowbringers, there is a lot of discussion going on around the web. While many long time fans are already playing (and most likely loving) the expansion, there are a lot of others who are just now looking at the game for the first time. Although the game might look interesting to them, most of the time they can't help but wonder if it's even worth it. After all, it is a game that's been going for quite a few years now, and Shadowbringers is the third major expansion. It's a lot of content to work through, and that alone many turn many off. So, I figured I'd take the time today to tell you guys how it is. What Final Fantasy XIV is really all about, and if it's worth getting into if you haven't already. So with that being said, let's get on with this!

What IS Final Fantasy XIV:

First of all, what is the game? Well to put it simply, it's the 14th main entry in the Final Fantasy series. Now some of you may already be passing this game off as a side game as it's an MMO, but I want to make this very clear right now. It isn't. This is in fact a mainline entry, and it has everything (plus more) that you should expect from any of the other 14 titles. As for those of you who know nothing about Final Fantasy, let me assure you that the numbering doesn't actually matter. Rather than being a series in the standard sense, Final Fantasy is more of a collection of different games under one name. Every title is a stand alone, and only shares some similar ideas/themes with other entries. Well, that and they are all story focused JRPGs.

So, with that being said, again, FFXIV is the 14th mainline entry in the series -- but it is also a series of it's own. It's an MMORPG that has had 5 full storylines released, and multiple "bridge" storylines released between each major expansion. It's a massive world with a lot of story packed in, and it all takes place in an online living world.

Not Your Standard MMORPG:

The first thing many people think when they hear the term MMORPG might be something like WoW or one of the many free to play MMOs out there. Now while FF14 does share similar systems and mechanics with some of these, it is still very much a Final Fantasy game. The truth is, FF14 is mostly a single player experience. (Until end game that is.) When you start the game you'll create a character and enter the starting city like in most MMOs, but the game starts to change the more you get into it. Now sadly the game does have quite a long start up, but things do get a lot better. After you make your way through your generic MMO fetch quests and kill quests (as well as the other tutorial style quests), you'll eventually witness an event that forces you out into the world. It's at this moment most players realize FF14 isn't going to be what they expected.

From that point onward the story becomes much more linear. Sure you're still free to go wherever you like and take on side quests, but rather than being your standard lore based story most MMOs are known for, it becomes one that is both dialogue and cutscene driven, and one that always pushes you forward. You'll travel to far away lands, visit towns and talk to npcs, fight your way through dungeons, and take on bosses as you progress through each of the game's chapters. Eventually everything will come to a head at the game's final boss, but even then things are only just getting started.

The End of 2.0 and Pre Heavensward:

Up until the end of the original story, things are quite linear. While the start is your generic MMO startup, the rest of the story is that of a single player Final Fantasy title. Yes you will have to work with other players to finish dungeons (there is an auto match making system to form parties for dungeons and bosses you need to complete), but for the most part you are on your own. Once you finish the base story however, things become different.

First of all, post 2.0 the game finally has a budget. The original base game was created after the massive failure of 1.0, and was a complete reboot for the game. Because of this the devs really had no idea how 2.0 would preform, and they didn't have a lot of time or resources to put into it. So because of that they couldn't really do anything too crazy with it. Only key cutscenes were voice acted, and there was quite a bit more padding scattered throughout the main plot with it's side quests. With 2.0 however this is no longer the case, and it shows. Most cutscenes are now voice acted, and the cutscenes in general have greatly improved. It's a nice upgrade from what we originally had, but it's still nothing compared to what they were able to do in Heavensward... But I'll get to that later.

The next major change with the game starting end game is the fact that it becomes like a standard MMO. MANY extra dungeons, boss fights, and raids become unlocked the moment you finish the main story, and the game puts a bigger focus on these aspects. This means players need to work together to complete everything, and the jump in skill level pushes everyone to get better at the game. While there are side stories (such as the inspector episodic quests), the real focus of end game is FF14 being an MMO. And that's why a lot of MMO players enjoy it.

Heavensward and Beyond:

Once players get to Heavensward, the game falls into it's current "standard" pattern. Story events push you to a new region of the world, and a brand new adventure begins there. Here is where the story's production value really jumps, and it's one of the reasons players have stuck around for all these years. An entire new voice cast was hired to dub the game, once again nearly all of the cutscenes are voice acted, and there are a LOT more cutscenes in general. Although the base game tried to offer a standard FF experience as well, it's not really until Heavensward that FF14 pulls it off. It's a fun ride from start to finish, and easily (in my opinion) one of the best stories a Final Fantasy has told. On the other hand, side quests exist, and because of that many people come to hate the moogle race, and their constant asking of you to climb mountains to look for their favorite rocks... At least there is one way around this.

The big thing with each expansion in FF14 is that they typically offer some sort of major game changing mechanic, or quality of life improvements. Heavensward introduced the ability to fly, which makes completing side quests much faster if you wait and do them later (as flying needs to be unlocked in each area first), Stormblood added swimming and underwater exploration (it also dropped support for the PS3, allowing the PC and PS4 versions to break free of it's old limitations), and Shadowbringers... Well, it brought a lot of battle system changes and expanded on some improvements introduced in Stormblood. Anyway, each expansion has upgraded the game in multiple ways, and many of those upgrades carry over into the base game as well. This means even if you're a new player, you're not going to have to go through the game's early days like we did. And that's a good thing.

So, is it worth it?

If you skipped directly to this, I wouldn't blame you. I still recommend you read everything before this to get an idea of what the game is for yourself, but here's my honest answer:

YES!!!!!! (If you're into JRPGs that is.)

Even though we are quite a few expansions in now, it's not as overwhelming as you might think. You have to force yourself through some boring setup at the start of the game, but once you get past that the game flies. The new upgrades to the combat system seem to make things a lot easier now and enemies die faster, and there are now daily rewards for every type of multiplayer duty. This means when you do hit parts that require multiplayer, it is easy to find a party and get it done. Even OLD end game content has players playing it again, so you don't have to worry about waiting an hour + to get in.

As for the story itself, it's really something you shouldn't rush (enjoy each and every minute of it while it lasts), but it doesn't take too long to get through it either. You can do the game's free trial to see if you like it, and use that trial to get through all the boring generic MMO setup content. Once you do so and hit level 35, you could then decide what you want to do from there. If you're really into the MMO aspects you could level grind your other classes to 35 as well, but if that's not your thing you can buy the game and move on with the main story and your main class. Buying the game gives you another 30 days of game time, which is more than enough time to get through the rest of the base game, and even the patch stories before Heavensward. Then depending on how much you play, it could be possible to knock out  the other expansions as well... But I really don't recommend rushing like that. Realistically you'll be into Heavensward when your first 30 days end, and you'll then need to sub. That's where some people get turned off.

If you're worried about the sub, don't be. You are not locked into anything, and you can even make payments through Steam if you don't want to use the more expensive $30 time cards, or don't want to put your credit card online. Instead a standard full sub is $15 bucks for a month, but that's only if you want to use more than one character. It's $13 a month for the single character account. Either way, you don't have to pay every single month, and when you do pay you are opening yourself to hundreds of hours of content. Of course after a couple of months you could easily be finished with the story, but there are still other things to do on the side. It's up to you if you want to do those things though, as none of it is actually required. Want to catch all the fish? Go for it. Don't like the insane crafting system? Ignore it. These are all options you have, and not something you have to do, and that's one thing that makes FF14 great.

So in short, if you're thinking about trying the game, then go for it. Don't be put off by how much content is in the game, because not all of it may be for you. Focus on what you like, and you'll fly through it in no time. As for the price of the sub, again it's really not that bad (especially considering just how much there is to do in the game). While some may be put off by having to pay for a game they already own, you could always think of it this way. It costs more to see a 2 hour long movie, than it does to play hundreds of hours a month. But again, it really depends on you liking the game or not. That's where the free trial comes in, so it's not like you have to pay out of pocket right away.

Well, hopefully that gave you guys some idea on what FF14 is! If you're still interested, then feel free to go out and download the trial today. It'll be worth it.
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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Returning to Higurashi When They Cry 10 Years Later

Isn't it funny how fast time flies? Ten years ago I was a 17 year old getting ready to finish High School, and I had no idea what my future would be like. Heck, I don't even think I thought that far ahead. During that time I was more focused on the here and now, and a lot of that revolved around the friends I had made, and the new games and anime I had gotten into. It was also the first year my family's bakery was open, so a lot of my time was spent there too. But either way, my normal daily life was what I cared about most, and the last thing on my mind was what I should be doing next. Sure I knew I had to go to college, and I had an idea of what I wanted to be, but whatever. It was soon going to be summer vacation, and I wouldn't have to worry about such things for at least a few months. Yeah, that flew by in no time...

Anyway, during that time of my life, almost every day was fun, and I really didn't have any worries. I was free to do what I wanted when I wanted, and often that involved hanging out with friends. It really was a great time in my life... But now you may be asking, what does this have to do with anything? Well, it's because of those friends and free time that I stumbled across a little anime called "Higurashi." I didn't know it at the time, but this anime would leave a lasting impression on me, and change how I viewed the horror genre forever.

Now I've mentioned in the past that I used to not do horror at all. Seriously, if anything was classified as horror, I avoided it. So when a friend sent me a video from Nico Nico featuring a song called "Dear You," I was pretty shocked to learn what it came from. In the surface it seemed like some generic school life anime, but in reality I learned it was much more. Of course I didn't want to believe this "happy" series would turn into something in the horror genre, but there was no denying the truth. Heck, I still remember asking my friend Hayley at school about it, and she just laughed it off. "Yeah it's a REAL happy series" was her reply, which was obviously a lie, but I decided to try it out anyway. I'm still not sure if I regret that or not.

The thing about Higurashi is, while it may be an anime, it actually started as a video game. Or sound novel to be exact. It was the story of a kid moving to a small town in Japan, and the "adventures" he and his new found (all female) group of friends go on. Typically they spent their time playing games where they have to cheat to win or face punishment, but sometimes they'd go out to the city and get involved in different events. I mean, it really does sound like a typical school life anime when you put it that way, but things take a dark turn pretty quickly.

After attending a town festival, the main character learns of the dam project and the horrible murder that happened during the protests against it's construction. A man was mutilated and split up among multiple people, who then hid his body parts in places only they knew. After hearing this story the main character gets involved in a series of incidents that cause him to start suspecting his friends have something to do with it. This is when his world slowly becomes distorted, and the true horror begins.

While the original sound novel relied only on text and sound to get it's points across, the anime took a different approach. The visuals change from scene to scene, the character's voices change to an eerie tone as their eyes become dilated, and graphic scenes unfold before the viewer's very eyes. What was once a kiddie looking anime, eventually becomes something straight out of hell. Characters ram their necks into knives as blood covers the room and onlookers let out demonic laughs, friends flatten other friends with baseball bats, and torture devices are explained in great detail as they are being used on the innocent. The things this series did went beyond expectations, and each new chapter brought something worse than the last. Eventually it "broke" me. After that horror stopped being horror to me.

Although graphic as it may be, Higurashi was a rare mystery series that completely had me hooked. I never knew what to expect out of it, and each new episode handed me a piece to the puzzle. Why are these things happening? Who is really behind it all? These were questions I wanted to find an answer to, and the only way to do so was to keep going. Of course I didn't want to be alone in this, so I drug local NGR Writer Cat along with me. Yeah, maybe I shouldn't have done that...

Anyway, that was ten years ago, and still to this day Higurashi is one of my all time favorite series. I loved the characters, the music, and most of all the story; however it's also a story I was never able to fully finish. The original games were out of reach back then, and for whatever reason I never did watch the last few episodes of the anime. (Yes I'm a bad fan.) But now times are different, and Higurashi has officially made it's way to the west on Steam. So I figured, what better way is there for me to start my summer?

So anyway, here I am now. After a long (LONG) wait I finally have the original story. In a way it's a dream come true for me, but even then there were some road bumps when it came to getting the game. Although it's up for sale on Steam, this version is only the original sound novel release with a new OST (so it's not even fully original). Thankfully fans are crazy and a mod has been created to restore it to it's PS2/PS3 days, but it took some time to actually get everything downloaded and working as it should. Even so it was well worth it. While some may prefer the original all text version, I just can't go without the voices and creepy visual style I've come to know and love. It's a part of what makes Higurashi Higurashi for me, and I wouldn't want it any other way.

On the flip side, if you're the type of person who enjoys psychological horror and mysteries, I highly recommend checking out the series. Either anime or game, it's really up to you. It's a unique story filled with twists and turns, and it's one of the few series that asks you (the player/viewer) to figure out the answer for yourself before it's spelled out to you. It's a rare gem, and one that deserves to be seen.
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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Rune Factory NOT Cancelled And is Now Coming To The Switch!

So this is both sort of an announcement, and a follow up to some of our previous blog posts. Shockingly the news that Rune Factory 4 wasn't going to release in the EU is one of our most read posts here at NGR. We constantly get hits for the page (even after we updated it when the DID eventually release there), so it's clear that many of our readers actually care about the series (me included)! Now with that being said... Rune Factory 4 HD is coming to the switch, and Rune Factory 5 is now in the works!

Yep, that's right! If you happened to miss the Nintendo Direct from yesterday, here's a trailer to catch you up to speed:

(Special Thanks to GameTrailers for uploading this)

Although there's no information about Rune Factory 5, it's great to hear that the series is actually continuing. After the original dev team went under, the chances of a follow up to 4 were slim. Thankfully the team was reunited under Marvelous AQL though, and that's what makes both RF4 Special and RF5 possible.

So with that being said. I personally cannot wait! As a long time Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons fan, more games in the series is always welcome. Especially when it comes to the Rune Factory side of things.
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Saturday, February 2, 2019

Looking Back On Kingdom Hearts

I can't believe it. Kingdom Hearts III is actually out, and I've played it! A part of me still thinks this is some hoax, but it's not. The game is real, and our long wait is finally over. While a lot of newcomers to the series may not understand just how big of a deal this is, many of you out there do. This is more than just another big name game, it's something only those who have been there since the beginning can understand... (Well, maybe there are some exceptions.) Kingdom Hearts is a series that holds a special place in many of our heart's, and each one of us has our own "chain of memories" (yes, I went there) surrounding it. As for me, this series holds nothing but good memories, and every time I pick up and play one of the entries I'm brought right back. So in honor of KH3's release, I figure it's about time I share my story.

The first time I saw Kingdom Hearts was when I was at my mom's work. I was sitting there watching TV in the living room, and suddenly I heard a (now familiar) song playing. It was the theme music for some new game coming out on the PlayStation 2, and for whatever reason it had Disney characters in it. Around that time was when I first got into watching anime as well (thanks to Toonami), and as I watched the commercial I couldn't help but notice the characters of Sora and Riku. Without knowing anything about the game I already thought they were the coolest characters ever, and I wanted to know more about them. Sadly I didn't have a PS2, and before long the commercial faded from my memory. Until Chain of Memories came along that is.

When CoM came out once again I was seeing commercials for the series, and even Nintendo Power was covering it. Again I thought the idea of having a Disney game was cool, but it wasn't something I could just run out and get. My parents would only get me specific games, and I didn't know enough about Kingdom Hearts to ask for it. Plus considering I only got a handful of games a year during special days (like Christmas or on my birthday), Kingdom Hearts on the GBA wasn't something I was going to ask for over the likes of Mega Man Battle Network. (Fun fact: Netto is the main character's Japanese name, and where NGR's name originates from.) Anyway because of that I once again passed on the KH series and went on with my day to day life.

Jump ahead to high school and things began to change. I got a PS2 for my 8th grade graduation, and now I was starting to hear more about the series once again. I can still remember sitting in band class as one of the senior girls was talking about trying to get the ultimate weapons in Chain of Memories. Hearing the things she had to say got me a bit more interested again, but I wasn't quite ready to run out to get it.

After Animal Crossing Wild World came out on the DS, me and a friend both got it for Christmas and we spent a lot of time playing it online. This is when out of nowhere (I have no idea where) he started bringing up Kingdom Hearts II. So once again I started asking questions about the series, and my interest grew more and more. Now that I had a PS2 I could actually get into it, but I wasn't sure how I would or where I should have even started. I remembered Chain of Memories on the GBA, but after doing some research I found that it wasn't a good idea. So instead I started reading the original KH manga, and began talking about it with other friends. Shockingly most of my friends, who had never mentioned the game before, loved it, and they were all trying to get me to play. This is when my friend Keith invited me over to his house that weekend, and he had me start up the game for the first time. And it blew me away.

Although I didn't get to play too much that day, the whole thing was still exciting for me. Here I was playing as this kid named Sora, and I was sitting at the start of some grand adventure that awaited him. It was an adventure I REALLY wanted to take on myself, and I couldn't wait till I could buy the game and do just that. Then the unexpected happened. "You know you can barrow it right?"

The next two weeks were simply amazing. It was getting close to the end of my freshman year, but the only thing I remember about that time was playing Kingdom Hearts. School work, studying for finals, etc... I can't recall if I even did any of that. All my memories are of me waiting for the school day to end so I could rush home and see what new adventure Sora would get into in the next world he visited. Then as I cleared each stage I'd come back to school to talk about it with my friends, and then head back home to repeat the process. Eventually I did finish KH1, and I returned the game to my friend before the end of the school year. And that's when I began thinking of a way to get Kingdom Heart's II.

I don't remember exactly how I went about it, but at some point I did get the money for the game. Up until then though I spent weeks looking up information about the game, and I kept trying to come up with a way to get my parents to let me have it. Before then I had been telling my dad about the first game, but I think he felt it was a bit too kiddish for me. As for my mom she knew nothing about the series, and I knew some of the game's content would bother her (mainly the whole darkness thing). It drove me crazy that I wasn't able to continue on with the series, and to make matters worse it seemed like the whole world wanted to rub that in. In fact at one point I was at Walmart and I saw this little kid run up to me with the Kingdom Hearts II guide book. He then proceeded to open the pages, and shook it in front of me as if to show off what he had and I didn't! Of course in reality he was just a kid excited to have the guide book, but still. It was a game I REALLY wanted to play, and not much I could do to get it. As an almost 15 year old I was limited in funds, and my parents had the final say in what I could or couldn't do. It wasn't easy for me... But then one day things changed. I took the leap of faith, and managed to come home successful.

Looking back on that Saturday morning, it was weird. I had spent the night at my mom's work on my roll away bed, and the first thing I thought when I woke up was "I'm going to get Kingdom Hearts II today." I remember laying there looking at the ceiling for a little bit before I got up, and shortly after I got dressed and ready to go my grandma showed up for her shift. Afterwords me and my parents went home, and we started our normal weekend. Which thankfully normally involved shopping.

I'm not sure why we decided to go where we went, but later that day we drove a little over an hour away from home, and ended up going to Target. That's where I found it. Sitting on the shelf was a copy of Kingdom Hearts II, and I wanted it. I had the money to buy a single game, and that game was going to be it. It's kinda funny actually. I remember asking my dad "do you think I should get that one?" And he told me "why don't you get something better?" Again I'm pretty sure he thought the series was for little kids, and not something I should waste my money on. However I didn't listen to him, and I bought it.

The car ride home afterwards wasn't the best. I was excited to play KH2, but I was starting to get a headache. I remember my mom asking to see the game I had picked up, but when I told her I didn't feel good she dropped the subject. Guess things worked out there too? Anyway because of how I felt, even after I got home I wasn't able to start up KH2. I remember laying on the sofa for awhile before I started feeling okay again, and then after my parents went to sleep I finally started up the game. This moment was something I'll never forget. I know a lot of people hated the long intro 2 had, but personally I loved every second of it. I became interested in Roxas' story, and I wanted to see where this character would go next. Then when I finally got to play as Sora again I was in full on hype mode. Sadly it was around 1:30 to 2:00 in the morning though, so I had to stop playing and save in front of the mansion in Twilight Town. Although Roxas' summer vacation was over, mine was just beginning.

For the next few months KH was a huge part of my life. I'd talk about it with friends online, post in message boards, and even convince others to give it a try. I loved that game, and I couldn't wait to play it every chance I got. But then it ended, and I joined the many other fans that were waiting for a sequel.

After KH2 was over, Kingdom Hearts news became pretty scarce. We had a secret ending that teased an upcoming game, but we didn't know when that would happen. Heck I still remember watching this ending at my mom's work, and thinking that I would be playing it on the PS2. I couldn't think that far ahead into the future with how much technology would change, and all I was concerned about was the here and now. So of course I was wrong about what the next game would be, but I'm pretty sure we all were.

When KH2 Final Mix + released in Japan the news from the game quickly flooded the internet. All of us here outside of Japan were able to learn about new pieces of story because of this, and we even got our first look at the FULL secret ending teasing "Kingdom Hearts 3 The Keyblade Wars." But then even more news leaked out, and we learned of the Birth By Sleep, Coded, and 358/2 Days projects. These were the next three KH games to be released, and none of them were what we expected. BBS would be a PSP title and the next "mainline" entry in the series, while 358/2 Days would be a DS game about Roxas, and Coded would be a cell phone game. Although they weren't KH3, most of us fans were just glad to hear something was coming, and the fact that it was actually THREE somethings and not one made us pretty happy. Then to top it off Re: Chain of Memories (which came with FM2+ in Japan) was also being released in the US so we had something to hold us over until the next new game came out. And thus started my Kingdom Hearts filled college years.

The first game I got of course was none other than Re Chain of Memories. It came out during my senior year of high school, and during the time I was branching out and trying new game series. I had got an Xbox 360 the summer before and was mainly spending time playing that, but the release of a new KH game was something I couldn't pass up. I still remember going to Walmart with my parents and picking it up, and I still remember the awkward conversation I had with my mom's coworker shortly after. They were standing there at the front of the store when I walked up, and her and her husband (who were both Xbox 360 gamers) asked me what I bought. When I told them it was Kingdom Hearts and not something like Call of Duty, they really had no idea what to say. "Oh um... That's cool. Yeah, ok." It was just strange... But I didn't care! It was a series I loved, and I couldn't wait to play it.

Jump ahead a year or so and college me was once again in the same boat. 358/2 Days was releasing on the DS, and I was waiting for classes to be over for the day so I could go to GameStop and get it. Spent a lot of time talking to friends on MSN in between classes about it as well. Then when I was finally able to come home and play it, the moment I turned it on I got a call from my grandpa asking me to come help him close his pool. So I lost another hour or so that day before I was actually able to play it, but thankfully I had the day off from school the next day so I was able to stay up as late as I wanted playing. Then that weekend I was sick with a cold, so I was able to stay home from working at the bakery to continue playing. Needless to say I blew through that game in no time, and I couldn't wait for the next to come out. That wouldn't be until a year later though.

Birth By Sleep released in September of 2010, and wouldn't you know it? My grandpa needed help closing the pool again. That day I was off from school so I was able to run over to GameStop to get it as soon as they opened, so things actually worked out better for me that time. I had most of the day to myself to play, and I was able to go help him close the pool later on. The game did take me a bit longer to get through though since it was longer than 358/2, and I wasn't sick that week. In other words I had to actually work on the weekend, and I had classes throughout the week. Of course I did finish it however, and once again I was sad to see it be over... On the plus side I did get a cool Kingdom Hearts BBS theme for my PSP, and it's something I STILL use to this day.

Re: Coded wasn't too far away shockingly. January 11, 2011 was when I picked it up, and that's about all I remember. I got it from GameStop after college, but the only thing I really remember about that day was playing it in the car at night as me and my dad drove to see my mom who was working at a different home at the time. I believe I was still on winter break from school, but for the first time I wasn't that motivated to play the game. I just wasn't a big fan of the block and bug system, and the levels got repetitive. I did beat the game pretty quick, but it felt more like a chore than anything. That's about all I can say about it really. The ending had me excited for the release of KH3, but that's about it.

When Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance was announced I was filled with excitement. Finally a NEW KH game I didn't know about, and apparently the final game to come out before the release of KH3. I was sitting at college in the math building when I came across the articles, but it wasn't until July of 2012 that I was able to play it. Thankfully I had the Nintendo 3DS Circle Pad Pro for the right analog stick (making it the first KH game to use the classic controls since KH2), and I wasn't going back to school for quite awhile still. This gave me plenty of time to finish the game nearly 100%, and it also was the game that finally got me to play The World Ends With You. It was the perfect way to end my final summer vacation, and it was a great way to start my final year of college.

That summer Kingdom Hearts III was announced for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and everyone went nuts. On top of that the Kingdom Hearts 1.5 collection was coming to the PS3, with a 2.5 collection coming out sometime after. I knew it would be quite some time before I got to play either, but it was a great way to start that summer, and a great way to end it before I started my first real job. In fact I bought 1.5 HD on September the 10th, the day before I started work. Little did I know what the future held for me...

Anyway jumping ahead to today and KH3 is FINALLY here, and thanks to our historic cold I was able to stay home from work to play it! Funny how things sometimes work out that way for me, especially when concerning Kingdom Hearts. It's been a LONG journey to get to this point, but I'm glad I can now experience the "ending" to what I started way back then.
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Saturday, January 26, 2019

Looking Back At Resident Evil 2

It's finally here everyone! The REmake everyone (at least fans) have been waiting for. Resident Evil 2 has released on current gen consoles, and it's more than we could've ever hoped for. That being said, I am especially looking forward to playing this one, as Resident Evil 2 is one of the few games that hold a special place in my heart. I already brought this up a couple of years ago, but looking back I feel like I didn't do my nostalgia for this game justice. Nor did I actually tell about how much trouble I went through to even get RE2 to begin with. So today I'm going to do just that.

To recap my previous post, the Resident Evil series was something I got into on a whim. I was sitting at college playing on my laptop before class, and I felt the urge to look into a "new" game series I could start. At that point I had already checked out quite a few major ones, so the list of ones I was willing to try was quite limited. Then out of nowhere I remembered that Resident Evil was a thing, and shortly after I was at the wikia page doing research. I also had quite a few friends who were already into the series as well, so it wasn't hard for me to find out everything I needed to know before I decided to buy it. So needless to say, I liked what I heard, and I started coming up with a plan on how to buy these games.

The thing is, getting the RE games back then wasn't that easy for me. Although I was in college (so I was an "adult"), I still lived at home and that limited me somewhat on what I could do. We didn't have the best internet (a few hundred MB took me hours), my job didn't pay a whole lot so I was limited on how much I could spend, and I kept most of my money as cash rather than depositing it. So if I wanted to buy anything online at the time, I had to take an extra trip to the bank, and my parents would see whatever it is I deposited/spent because our accounts were connected. Now why was this a problem you might ask? Because Resident Evil wasn't exactly the type of thing they would've liked. Now sure, at the time I was an adult and could make my own decisions, but at the same time I didn't like to do things that made things awkward at home. Even so I still really wanted to play Resident Evil, and I felt it was worth the risk.

Now I don't completely remember how it went down, but when I had the money required in my bank, I told my parents about some really good gaming deals on Amazon, and let them know before hand that I was thinking about buying some things. They gave me a "why are you telling us? Just buy it!" type of answer (as I was hoping for), so that's what I did. Bought Resident Evil Zero, REmake, and 4 for the Wii. After I told them a similar story for Resident Evil 2 on the PSN store, and once again I go ta similar reply. This made it so they knew I was in fact getting some things, but they had no idea what. Now I know, it sounds like a stupid kid plan and all, but that is pretty much what I was. A dumb kid. Sure you might think you're all grown up around the age of 18 or 19, but trust me... You have a long way to go. Anyway, with all of that settled I then went off to download my copy of RE2 to my PSP, as well as to my PS3. It took quite a bit of time (again, my download speed was BAAAAAD), but eventually the download finished on one and I was able to transfer it over to the other. Although I would've liked to play it more on my big screen TV, I used my PSP simply because it hid the game from everyone around me. Although in general I did prefer handhelds, PSP games were often hard to see on such a small screen, and that made it a bit of a challenge to play. I pushed on though, and eventually completed the entire game before my Amazon orders even arrived.

The thing for me about Resident Evil 2 though, is that it made me realize horror games weren't what I had initially thought they were. I was scared of anything called a "horror" when I was younger, and even looking at Resident Evil scared me. Blood and guts got to me, and I wouldn't even LOOK at the screen when I saw my friend playing similar games at his house. Of course by this point I had grown out of that (in fact the crime drama Bones was one of my favorite shows that I actually watched with my family), but still. When I went into RE2 I was expecting non stop horror that would give me nightmares, and make it hard for me to progress through the game. That wasn't the case though. Instead the zombies/monsters were nothing more than a threat of me losing progress if I died, and the game itself focused more on the puzzle solving and the mystery of what had happened. It kept me invested from start to finish, and only a handful of jump scares actually made me jump. Even then it never did freak me out though, and that's what brought me to give the horror genre a try. Although I did have issues with the tank controls at first (as I knew I would considering the few minutes of RE3 I played at my friend's house was hard enough), eventually I got used to them and they stopped being an issue. Once I passed that point though, RE2 became one of my favorite games of all time.

I really can't say more than enough about Resident Evil 2. It was the game that introduced me to Resident Evil, and one I could always go back to and still have fun. I loved the characters, the story, the setting, and pretty much everything about the game. It made me even more excited to play the later entries in the series, but even then they never fully replaced 2 for me. Sure, I did prefer the 3D camera and controls from later entries (I'd also consider Revelations 1 one of my favorites), but 2 was a special game. Now with RE2 finally being remade in 3D as well, it has become everything I could only dream it'd be. It's a game I can't wait to play non stop once again, and I can't wait to experience all the new content that awaits me. Thanks Capcom, you made one of my dreams come true.
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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Ben's Game of the Year 2018

I know I'm a bit late, but it's that time of the year again! Time to look back on 2018, and pick out what was my personal "Game of the Year." Now 2018 was a pretty hard year for me for a lot of reasons. I was let go from my job at the end of 2017 due to a lack of work, and shortly after my dad's brother passed away. He had been in a nursing home for quite awhile due to his stroke some years back, but it was negligence that ended his life early... After the funeral I did have a few months of a "break" while I searched for a new job, but even this time was cut short. My grandpa suffered a stroke and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. I spent the next few months running back and forth to the hospital with him, but sadly he too passed away last September. During this time I did manage to find a new job however, and I even met some new friends there! So things weren't all bad, but with how crazy everything has been I haven't had too much time to play video games. Things have gotten better since my grandpa's funeral however, so I did get at least some gaming in this year. Even so, it makes it a bit difficult to choose an actual GOTY because of this.

Although a lot of really good games came out in 2018, there's only one I can call my personal GOTY. Before I get to that however, I'd like to just mention a few of the others.

Dragon Ball FighterZ -

This is the game I basically started my year off with. It's a very solid fighter by ACW, and one of the best Dragon Ball games I have played. Really worth checking out if you're into fighting games at all, or if you're a fan of the series.

Radiant Historia Perfect Chronology -

This one wasn't exactly a "new" game, but it's a good one none the less. Perfect Chronology is a remake of the DS classic JRPG "Radiant Historia." The game features a unique time travel mechanic where you can jump between different branching paths to help shape the future. This time around many quality of life improvements have been made to the game's systems, story scenes now have voice acting, and a new story path has been added into the mix. It's a game 3DS RPG fans shouldn't pass up.

Sea of Thieves -

Despite the initial hate for the game, SoT is actually a really fun online game. It's one where you get to create your own stories, and because of that you never know what'll happen to you out there. It's a game that is completely depended on the other players playing it, so people's experiences with the game will vary. Of course since it's launch the game has received multiple updates and expansions, so it's not exactly the "same" game it once was. While I can't call this my GOTY, I will say that I enjoy playing it, and will continue to come back to it throughout the years.

God of War -

A really fun one, but also one I haven't had the time to finish. It's something I'd like to talk more about in the future, but for the time being I'm going to pass on it. All I will say is that it's a pretty fascinating adventure across the world of Norse Mythology, and it's a game that only continues to get better the further you progress. Even without finishing it I can already see why many would consider this one of the best games to come out this year.

Detroit -

This is a game based off of a tech demo I posted about all the way back in 2012. Following in the footsteps of their previous games (like Heavy Rain and Beyond), Detroit is an interactive movie that asks the question "what is human?" It's a unique story with many branching paths, and it is one that is packed full of shocking and emotional moments. Well worth checking out if you're a fan of these types of games -- especially considering how cheap it is now days. (You can even buy it in a bundle with the two previously mentioned games.)

Muv-Luv and Muv-Luv Alternative -

Not even kidding. It's an old PC VN in Japan, but we finally got it on the Vita here in the west. It's a story well worth seeing, but that's all I'm going to say about it here. Instead you can check my review over here if you want more info.

Octopath -

Really solid JRPG, but also one I haven't been able to finish. Following the story of 8 unique characters, the game is both a throw back to classic 16 bit style games, and something all it's own. It's one of the few games I'd consider a "must have" for Switch owners.

Spider-Man -

Simply amazing. Spider-Man PS4 is a game we waited years for, and it was worth it. This open world sandbox game is the Spider-Man adventure fans deserve, and is a must have for PS4 fans of the series. Honestly I could sit here all day talking about how great this game is, but I'm going to leave it at that.... If it wasn't for my actual choice of GOTY, it would've been this game for sure.

BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle -

A BlazBlue fighting game with Persona 4, Under Night, and RWBY? All of these series are special to me, so this game was a dream come true. Might not be as good as other BlazBlue games, but it's still a solid game none the less.

Dragon Quest 11 -

A game I wish I had more time to really give it a chance. Earlier in the year I played through DQ5 while my grandpa was in the hospital (downloaded it on iOS), so DQ11 was a game I was really looking forward to trying out. Sadly it came out the day he went back to the hospital for his final time... Afterwords I only managed to pick it up a handful of times, and so far I really like it. Could've been my GOTY, but I still don't think it would've topped my number one choice.

Red Dead Redemption 2 -

Getting closer to the end now! Red Dead Redemption 2 is the sequel to the game I wished I could've played. That's right, I never got to play the original RDR (Redemption, not Revolver), but I always wanted to. RDR2 was my chance to finally jump into that world, and so far I'm really enjoying my time in it. Maybe I'm not as into it as others, but I still think it's a fun game, and it's something I'll keep playing off and on for quite awhile.

Super Smash Bros Ultimate -

ANOTHER game I couldn't wait for. Smash Bros Ultimate is the game I wished Smash 4 would've been. All the characters, nearly all of the stages, characters like Chrom being included, and actual single player content. It's pretty much the "perfect" Smash Bros for me, and it's a game I'll continue to play as the years go on. Even so... Monster Hunter World is what takes the cake for me.

Monster Hunter World - 

It's not really that surprising is it? Monster Hunter is one of my all time favorite series. I got into it back when Tri first released, and I've played every release (including some Japanese exclusives) since. When this game came out, I was simply blown away. I loved the quality of life improvements, I liked the new SOS system (which let your friends join you on your hunts at any time), and I loved the new mechanics. Although the game is quite a bit different (and easier) than past entries in the series, it quickly became my new favorite out of all of them. In fact I liked the game so much that I bought it for myself twice, and even got it for a friend! Just everything about World had me hooked for hours on end, and it's a game I plan to continue to play off and on like I did with all the others. On the flip side, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate also came out this year, and it too is a really solid entry in the series. While I still prefer World over it, it too is an amazing game. It's a game that lets me go back to the classic style of Monster Hunter whenever I want, and it has thousands of quests to complete. With these two games together, I'm pretty much set for quite a long time! Then you have the fact that MH World will continue to receive free updates, and then a full expansion is on it's way later this year! It's just a really good year to be a Monster Hunter fan, and I can't wait to see what 2019 brings to the series as well.

So yeah, I think that's about all I can say about this one. Mainly because I've already said it all during my review of the game! Man, it's such a good one. Completely blew away my expectations.
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