Anybody who has been unfortunate enough to have followed my internet ramblings here on Gamemoir knows that my gaming history is a long and winding road that has taken me here and there, but not quite everywhere. Assuming you have not made a personal timeline of my history as a gamer, let me sum it up for you first to put this list in perspective.
The SNES remains my most-played system ever. I played it all through high school and college until the PlayStation was on its last legs before buying one of those. While I covered a lot of ground in the time between buying a PlayStation and jumping ship to the original Xbox, a lot of games I meant to play but never did fell through the cracks and I never had a PS2.
A few months ago, I finally came back to Sony to right some wrongs. I bought a PS3 with the goal of not only checking out some of their fine exclusives, but to go back in time and play some of the PS2 games I missed as well through HD rereleases and PlayStation Network downloads. But I never knew how deep that rabbit hole went.
I’ve been catching up on PS3 standards these past months and have some PS2 classics under my belt too. Lately, some Ebay sales have left me with some money in my PayPal account that I’ve hesitated to put in the bank. You see, if I put it in the bank, it will be spent. With PSN, I can use PayPal as a payment method so I decided to keep it where it was and use it as my personal PSN petty cash drawer.
My next move was to see what I had available to choose from. Damn. I mean, I knew there were a ton of games on there but I had never checked out the “classics” section before, and I was greeted there with a veritable wonderland of drool-inducing games priced from $3.99-$9.99. Here are the ten games I found that I won’t be able to move on to the next console gen happily until I’ve played them.
Chrono Trigger/Chrono Cross
I’m doubling up here right off the bat because technically I’ve already played the hell out of Chrono Trigger. It’s a stone classic from the SNES and one of the greatest role-playing games of all time, hands down. I meant to buy it on my DS, but the price never came down, which seemed wrong for a straight port of such an old game. I’d have plunked down for a proper remake in a second. The price for the PSN version is much lower.
Chrono Cross was the PS1 sequel that I never got the nerve up to play. I’d heard it sucked, and the thought of playing a shittier version of a game I prized as much as I prize Chrono Trigger led me to play other games instead. In the end, I never got around to it and the question of whether it was worth my time or not never got answered. I think the time has come for me settle this.
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
Around Halloween, I wrote an article about the lack of great vampire games having never even given this series a try. It kind of came off as “Zelda with vampires” so I gave it a pass. Then I was thinking to myself “Zelda… WITH VAMPIRES!” and I’m not really sure what I was thinking not playing Legacy of Kain.
We are in the middle of quite a stupendous drought of vampire games right now and it looks like I’m going to have to go back in time to get my fix. So let’s see what this one’s all about.
Nobunagas’s Ambition: Iron Triangle
I swear, when I was looking through this list on PSN, I was thinking that Koei must been reading my mind. Another article I wrote a while back was decrying the lack of classical historical strategy games from the Japanese developer. In recent years they’ve been focusing on remaking the same action games over and over and their strategy titles were staying in the homeland.
Well, I found several Koei strategy titles from the PS2 era on PSN and I’m pleased as punch. It’s like the gaming gods answered my prayers. I’d love some of the more recent Romance of the Three Kingdoms titles, but I’ll sure take this feudal Japan equivalent without complaint. Arigato gozaimas, Koei-sama!
Legend of Mana
Remember that bit about Chrono Cross from a few minutes ago? Well, this is the exact same deal. Square’s Secret of Mana is one of the greatest RPG’s of all time (and the best with multiplayer by far) and I’d heard less than sterling things about the sequel, which led to me not taking the time to play it back in the rushed PlayStation era.
But over the years, I’ve heard better and better things about Legend and I feel like enough time has passed that I really need to take the opportunity to give this one a fair shot to stand on its own.
Another Koei series I specifically singled out in my previous post regarding that company; P.T.O. was a ridiculously accurate war simulator that focuses on the Pacific Theater of Operations in WWII. I have amazing memories of the original game on the SNES and the way it portrayed the Pacific War in such a realistic manner.
I’m really looking forward to this one. The format is one that ages really well, and I can’t wait to see how the title progressed between the SNES and PS2 eras. I’ve read that there are several of factions you can play as in addition to American and Japanese forces, so that should be pretty interesting.
This is a last-gen cult classic from mastermind Tim Schafer’s Double Fine Productions that has maintained an aura of awesome well into the current gen. While the game sold poorly in spite of its glowing critical reception and vocal fan base calling for HD remakes and sequels, I was pleased to see it available for download.
I was one of those jerks who didn’t listen the first time around, and given my constant whining about the need for new and innovative games, I feel like a hypocrite for not having given this one a go when that’s exactly how people describe Psychonauts. Time to right that wrong.
Final Fantasy V
This is a big one for me. The one old school Final Fantasy Game I never managed to play. After the full remakes of FF III and IV, it seemed pretty natural that this one would be next in line. It was originally a 16-bit game unreleased in America for several years, finally surfacing on the PlayStation, where I missed it.
I meant to snag the Game Boy Advance version to play on my DS, but that never happened either. Square is still teasing a remake for the 3DS, but at this point I think I may as well grab it off of PSN for a quarter of the price so I can finally put the stamp on this one.
Fatal Frame III: The Tormented
Over the years I’ve drifted away from straight horror games and missed out on series like Fatal Frame as a result. This is the one where you have to take pictures of ghosts. Sounds silly at first, but when you listen to the testimony of gamers who have soiled themselves playing these games, you will be a believer.
The franchise has a sterling reputation and I’d like to find time to play them all, but the graphics on this third game look pretty great and it seems like a pretty promising way to help get me back into the genre with a bang.
Koei’s third entry, tying fellow all-time fave old-school developer Square for most games on this list. From what I can see, the gameplay is a strategic real time style similar to Bladestorm, but taking place in feudal Japan and utilizing heavy story elements combining historical fact with dramatic fiction. So far, so good.
The original game was a PS2 launch title so I never had the chance to play any of the games in the series since I never owned that console. The third game supposedly has a very different and interesting view of Oda Nobunaga as a hero, so it might be fun to play this one right after Nobunaga’s Ambition.
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 FES
RPG confession time: I have never played a game in this series. I’m a fan of the genre and I’m a fan of Atlus, but somehow I’ve just never laid hands on a title from the the Megami Tensei franchise and this bugs me. Frankly, any game that has teenagers fight back against dark forces by shooting themselves in the head is something I really, really need to check out.
There are a lot of other features like the choice and morality systems that draw me to this one, of course, and the series’ longevity and dedicated fanbase speak for themselves. This is a franchise I want in on, and Persona 4 Arena (the only entry in this past gen so far) doesn’t look to be the entry point I’m looking for so the extended Persona 3 FES on PSN looks like my best available option.
Okay, so I’m going to have to play like the wind at this point. I’ve still got plenty of current-gen greatness -both new and upcoming- to come and the next gen is upon us. My original plan was to wait a year and see, but now it’s looking like my PS3 may have a good two years of life left in it if I factor in older titles available for download. Not only is it a formidable list, but most of them are JRPGs or strategy titles that could potentially eat up a hundred hours apiece.
How am I going to fit these in between the numerous classic and upcoming PS3 titles on my wishlist? I. Don’t. Know. But I need to find a way. I’ve got the release of the next Mass Effect game penciled in for the day I plan on finally getting a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One since that’s pretty much the only franchise I can’t put off until later, so hopefully BioWare will take their sweet time with that one because in the meantime, I’ve got a lot of past gen goodness to indulge in. But which one do I play first…