Games I need to play (again)

You may not know it from the things I most often talk about online, but my main interest is actually video games. I’m currently on Wolfenstein: Youngblood (badass Nazi-hunting sisters, wooo!), and continuously on Granblue Fantasy and Fate Grand Order. I’m waiting for Control, Death Stranding, Code Vein, and Man of Medan to name a few. And I have a backlog.

But that’s not what this post is about. In this post, I’m going to talk wistful about old games I haven’t played in a long time that I really want to play again. Or for some, games that I haven’t played yet and have on the side waiting to be played.

Chrono Trigger

It’s literally impossible to overstate how awesome this game was and is. It has so much heart and soul in every pixel and line of dialogue. You get to travel across multiple times and see how humans lived in those (fictional) times. Acquiring magic powers feels special. Like it’s not just randomly thrown out there, the characters awaken those gifts, and they have an affinity specific to who they are.

Reaching Zeal is always the most amazing part of the whole game. How can it not be? It’s an amazing magical island! Of course, there’s some very vile corruption at its heart that leads to its downfall. Queen Zeal herself always seemed pretty amazingly wicked. And like all Squaresoft games of this time, getting a flying vehicle just blows the mind. And this one can be used to travel through time! Though I remember being sorely disappointed that I couldn’t use the lasers that Dalton added to its wings.

It’s also a wonderful touch how you can do things to change time periods all over. Leaving Robo in the past to work on a desert, come back centuries later to find a whole forest from his efforts? Awesome.

Final Fantasy Mystic Quest

This game got so much hate, and it really didn’t deserve any of that hate.

What I understand of the hate it got is that it was “too easy.” Final Fantasy games brought over from Japan tended to be made much easier. But I think people who hated it for that reason didn’t spend enough time looking at it to see its beauty.

The main map is a bunch of points you walk to – no airship. When you use a point, unless it’s a battleground, you can walk around the town/dungeon. UNLIKE other RPGs from this time (that I played), your weapons can do different things on the map. They’re not just for fighting. A claw will let you climb up certain walls, or grapple and cross gaps. An ax will cut trees to open new paths. For its time, it was very advanced.

You have two playable characters (though one can be set to auto). The second character changes depending on the place in the story. It was great to have that dynamic, to imply closeness between the two journeying together.

Each section has a sort of elemental theme – earth, fire, water, wind. And the landscape backs it up. This was also one of the Final Fantasy games where crystals actually meant something. They weren’t just a prop. They had power and wonder to them. You could see how they impacted the world. It also may be just me, but for some reason I get a sort of “Biblical” vibe from the game. I’m not religious. But I can appreciate a game that gets a cool atmosphere to it.

Vandal Hearts

The last time I played this game was so long ago that I honestly can’t say much about it. What I remember most is using Gameshark to get the Vandalier class, which could do absolutely everything. It’s a strategy RPG in the same vein as Final Fantasy Tactics, and it has character classes (though not as robust as FFT).

Lunar: Silver Star Story + Eternal Blue

This is another game that I honestly don’t remember very well. I may not have gotten very far into it. At the time, it was a rental.

What I remember is that completing the main dungeons awarded dragon equipment, which provided special abilities to the main character. It also had anime cutscenes, which was new and innovative in the PS1 era.

I only played Lunar: Silver Star Story. I never played Eternal Blue.

Thousand Arms

I haven’t played this game in ages, and probably nobody remembers it or knows it even existed.

Like other entries, I don’t remember a hell of a lot. I remember a bit more than the others though. The most memorable part of the game for me was the dating sim element. You have the typical fighting, moving story forward, etc deal. But the dating sim is used for improving your weapons. The better relationship you have with a female character, the better you can improve what you have. It’s sort of a predecessor to Ar Tonelico in that way.

Shadow Hearts

Shadow Hearts is a franchise that reeeeeaaally got a raw deal. It arrived toward the end of the RPG era, and never took off like it should’ve. If people know it, they likely know it because of Shadow Hearts: Covenant, which was published by Midway (since purchased by Warner Bros. and changed to Netherrealm Studios).

This franchise had plenty of amazing new concepts and approaches. For one, it was set in the “real world,” in the past. Shadow Hearts and Covenant were set around World War I, settings mainly in Europe and China, with some Russia and Japan in Covenant. From the New World jumped ahead to Prohibition era, and changed its setting to America.

Its setting was sort of gothic horror. The main character was a “Harmonixer” who could absorb monster souls and shapeshift into them. Throughout each game, the gothic horror ties into the history in one way or another. For example, energy released from a tower became the reason for all the bloodshed of World War I. You also run into Rasputin as an enemy, and Roger Bacon (a 12th century philosopher) is a supporting character.

The game was finding its footing with Covenant, which moved it a little further from being as rigidly serious as the first game and introducing more fun and sometimes silliness. By From the New World, your party includes a mariachi-playing gunman who uses his guitar in attacks, and a goddamn cat.

Right now, Shadow Hearts is sadly dead in the water. The company that owns the rights to it doesn’t seem to give a damn about doing anything with it. From the New World got a lot of flak as well, but I think that was due to people thinking it had to rigidly stick to a more serious tone, whereas I always saw FTNW’s sillier tone as the franchise evolving as it gets closer to the modern day.

And that’s all I have at the moment. There are certainly plenty of other old games I COULD play, but they aren’t part of my sweet spot feelings of games I want to go back to.

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