Game of the Month

Ys Books I & II

When it comes to Action RPGs few have a more interesting history than the Ys series. The first game originally called Ys: Ancient Ys Vanished (good name right? Might as well say the main title twice!) was ported with slight changes numerous times as well as being revamped and released through the years. Just a few of the first ports were Ys: The Vanished Omens on the Sega Master System and The Ancient Land of Ys for classic PCs; even though it was originally for some of those Japanese only gaming PCs like the PC-8801. Ys II aka Ancient Ys Vanished: The Final Chapter got the same treatment being ported to the NEC-PC and the Famicom for example, not as bad as Ys I but still a few with small changes in each one. 

But everything really took off when both games got put together as one whole experience, as was essentially originally intended, for the Turbo CD/PC-Engine CD-Rom released as Ys I & II. Better than just being put together, and being one of the first console games on the CD format, both were fully enhanced remakes including enhanced graphics, red book audio and animated cut scenes. Everything being so well put together that many fans of the series still claim that this version is still the definitive.

Despite that both games got remade again and again making appearances on Sega Saturn, DS, PSP and again remade for the PC. If you have any interest in checking out this series you have a slew of options. I seriously suggest Ys I & II Chronicles+ on Steam as it has the retro flair with the modern touches needed to keep it looking sharp. But I am getting way ahead of myself, I probably should tell you a little bit …

Animal Crossing

We have a brand new Animal Crossing game coming out for the Nintendo 3DS this month (in the USA anyway)! So lets take a second and reflect back on the original classic that started on the N64/Gamecube and has been on the DS, and then the Wii. Because working off debt to own your own home has never been so fun until you had to pay off a sneaky Tanooki (Tanuki) who ran the local store in a town full of animals.

Animal Crossing or Dobutso No Mori (actually called Animal Forest if literally translated) was original released in Japan on the Nintendo 64, the game was essentially the same from its Gamecube counterpart but there were some differences, mostly things left out. That game came out really late for the N64, April 2001, and was ported to the Gamecube as Dobusto No Mori+ by December which was closer to the US version. The US version went through a major translation cycle and got holidays that fit the region better and tons of extra text; that was released in September of 2002. It was so well received that Nintendo actually translated that back and Japan got Dobusto No Mori e+. Confused? Good

If you’re new to the Animal Crossing franchise you’re probably wondering where the game falls in terms of genre and gameplay; it is actually pretty hard to describe in a way that doesn’t make it sound tedious. It is essentially a slice of life simulator, kind of like Harvest Moon but without all of the farming. You’ll do social things like talk to your neighbors, help them run errands (which are essentially just tasks to fetch or deliver goods), participate in town events and join them for holiday celebrations.

The most impressive thing at the time and …

Jedi Knight II – Jedi Outcast

Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast is essentially the closing chapter on the story of Kyle Katarn and his journey as a New Republic mercenary and Jedi Knight; wrapping up the stories from Dark Forces,  Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II and its expansion Mysteries of the Sith. While Kyle appears in Jedi Academy he is no longer the main focus and is passing on the torch to a new group of Jedi. Like the two titles before it the game has elements of a FPS while the action with a lightsaber all takes place in the third person; creating a more Action-Adventure feel.

The mechanics and gameplay in this title were seriously re-written to grow from the first Jedi Knight; this game got much more than a graphical update in the five year gap between the two titles. Sadly the sweet cinematic cut scenes with real actors did not return from the first Jedi Knight, instead we get standard cut scenes using in game models. It isn’t a real down fall, it is just unfortunate to not see those actors and type of cut scenes again; at least  there is still full voice acting.

Like the start of Jedi Knight and the entirety of Dark Forces, the beginning of Jedi Outcast starts out as just an FPS. Besides a little update for more modern controls not much has changed here from the first Jedi Knight and it plays like a lot of late 90s early 2000s FPS titles. It is still fun as can be and though the game obviously shifts to being more focused on your Jedi skills you can still play it as a FPS if you so choose for the majority of the game (except when you fight dark Jedi). You’d be doing yourself a …

Mario Kart – Double Dash

It doesn’t really seem like anyone can agree on which is the best Mario Kart game, I probably couldn’t make a definitive decision all on my own even. But, Double Dash would likely be in the running.

While Mario Kart 64 mostly just took the core ideas of the original Mario Kart and put it in a full 3D environment  Double Dash actually made a lot of changes. The biggest and most obvious one being the  addition of a second kart rider, which doesn’t seem like much at first. But in reality, this really mixed up gameplay since you could now mix and match riders who had different weights, special power ups and mix and match kart sizes. Each character had their own special power, and each one paired with a secondary kart rider’s power could make for a good defensive or offensive approach to riding. Plus the different cart sizes provided an approach that required some tactical thinking since weight and speed played a role in your offense and defense as you drove around the track as well.

 

Besides these changes I just always loved the speed in Double Dash which seemed like such a large improvement over the previous two titles. This was improved even more by the really exciting tracks, some of my favorite tracks exist in this entry of the series. They are hard hitting, compact, have lots of boost areas and more. Top that all off with the awesome slide and boosting methods in this game and you were always driving at top speed. Kart’s aren’t actually speed machines but in a game that is so loose and fun a bit of extra speed keeps the flash going and it is really needed.

People had their complaints about Double Dash, the biggest one being …

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