I wanted to tell you all about some of my favorite games for console systems, as well as MMOs.

Monster Rancher
My first favorite games series is Monster Rancher, which was made by Techmo and released on the original PlayStation. It’s a life simulation game. You basically raise, breed and battle monsters. You got different monsters from different cds (music and games) and there were special monsters available. I actually went out and bought Madonna’s ‘Like a Virgin’ cd to get a special Pixie Monster. In the original game, you’re a monster breeder and you want to raise a monster who can win all of the monster fight tournaments. You have an assistant named Holly.

Monster Rancher 2 takes place a little bit after MR1, and sort of runs during the same time. You have an assistant named Colt and you later on see Holly. Again, the cds and game discs you use unlock special monsters. There’s a place called Monster Rancher Metropolis that tells you what discs unlock which monsters and what stats they have. This was also on the original PlayStation.

Monster Rancher 3 was released on the PlayStation 2 and I absolutely loved it. The art changed to cel style shading for this one. It added an encyclopedia, so once you unlocked a monster you could generate it overand over again for different breeding projects. Your new assistant in this game is Fleria.

Monster Rancher 4, also for the PS2, was released in 2003 and was another game in the same vein. MR4 is my favorite of the series, I think. They added lots of new monsters. There were something like 34 types of monsters, making 328 types available. My favorite types of monsters were Dragons, Pixies, Mews, Plants, Tigers, and sometimes Suezo. This one was fun because you could breed monsters, train monsters, explore with your monsters, collect things, and do lots of battle. The story was pretty cool. I wish there were more games like this one!

I played these games to death! I used to play 1 and 2 while watching tv for hours. I played 3 and 4 even more. They were fantastic! I kept playing them literally for years because I could always breed up different monsters and I had fun with that.

Then we come to Monster Rancher EVO (aka Monster Farm 5: Circus Caravan). This also was for the PS2, released in 2006 and uhm, god it was awful. I love RPGs (we’ll delve into that later), but I HATED the mini-games that were a part of Monster Rancher EVO. They turned me off so much I couldn’t finish the game. HATED this game. This game caused me to go out and look for other games that were like MR1-4 that I liked.

In short, I hate mini-games that make it so I don’t want to play the rpg aspects, the monster breeding aspects, etc. The mini-games really ruined it for me.

However, I’m hopeful that there will be another addition to this series, as I’ve loved it for probably close to 14 or 15 years!!!

Viva Piñata
I eventually stumbled upon Viva Piñata for the XBOX 360. It’s a gorgeous game. It’s a life simulation game.

While it has annoying mini-games (for breeding) where the controls handle like you’re punch drunk, I could at least master them enough to play the game. I loved the colorful piñata animals, and decorating the garden wasn’t too bad. However, the game didn’t hold my interest the way Monster Rancher did. I only managed to make it through 2 or 3 gardens.

Nevertheless, Ray and Dave still bought me Viva Piñata 2: Trouble in Paradise. I haven’t played this yet, but I should, especially considering it’s got like 90 some species in this version.

Lunar: Silver Star Story
Lunar was a lesser known RPG that I fell in love with for the Playstation. It had a fantastic story, and even better, amazing (for its time) animated sequences. The main character is Alex, and he has a winged cat-like creature named Nall who hung out with him, and a friend named Luna. I loved this and I remember playing this game for weeks.

It encouraged me to by Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete. Both games were well-written, in my opinion, and fantastic for the time they came out. Lunar Blue had more of the gorgeous cut scenes that took my breath away. This time the main character is Hiro, and his flying cat creature is Ruby.

At this point, I’d played a lot of console RPGs and these two really blew me away with their fantastic story and enjoyable game play. They were pretty amazing to me.

Legend of Zelda
The Legend of Zelda was one fo the first games I ever played on my original Nintendo. I quickly beat it, and then when Zelda II: The Adventure of Link came out, I played that one as well.

Then the Super NES came out, and of course they released The Legend of Zelda: a Link to the Past for it. I had to play it. Once again I loved it.

When the Nintendo 64 came out, I was a bit disenchanted with things, like the version of Mario out at that time, but Ray got me to play the Ocarina of Time, and caused me to fall in love with Zelda all over again.

Next I played the Wind Waker on the GameCube (I basically had a purple gamecube. LOVED IT) I wasn’t so crazy abou tthe Wind Waker art because of how young Link looked. They’d switched to cel-shading to probably have more appeal, but it was a bit of a turn off to me.

The last Legend of Zelda game that I played with Twilight Princess, on my wii. I never finished it because I got annoyed and tired of having to hack and slash (literally). Basically if the controls of a game are too much, I just get overwhelmed and lose interest in play, much like with the mini-games in Monster Rancher EVO.

Dragon Warrior
Possibly the first RPG I ever played was Dragon Warrior, which was also available on the original Nintendo. Somehow I fell in love with this world. You play a hero who must rescule the princess, reclaim the Ball of Light and restore peace to the land.

Dragon Warrior II was much better than 1. You have a party of characters to control and level up. I think this game was so special to me because it’s the prince and his two cousins, which reminded me of my brother and my cousin. Growing up, my brother, my cousin and I would play rpgs together, so I felt like this version of the game really resonated with us.

Dragon Warrior III was quickly devoured by me and my cousin Brian, as well as my brother, when it came out. You could customize your party and it was still a turn-based rpg. I loved it.

Dragon Warrior IV was different from the previous RPGs, as the game had a chapter for each main character and then a chapter for the hero. It was a ton of fun. My favorite was Princess Alena, but I also liked Mara and Nara. It also had Healie, a friendly slime!

If you’ve ever wanted your own slime, you can get them here on Etsy.

Dragon Warrior IV was the last DW game I played for a long time, until Dragon Quest VIII came out on the PS2. This was also turn based with fun battles and a good plot. The art is cel-shaded and looks like it’s in the DragonBall Z anime style.

Eternal Darkness
Eternal Darkness was an odd buy for me, and an odd game to put out on the GameCube considering its target audience. I don’t like the survival horror genre. However, I LOVE HP Lovecraft and Cthulhu Mythos.

This story again had fantastic story, great characters and was very well done. I think I played through the game 2 or 3 times since there were different endings. The main character is Alexandra (Incidentailly Ray and I both love the name Alex/Alexandra and if ever we have a child, that’s the name choice… so many games use a variant of Alex!). The game had a santiy concept where you could go crazy, which if you ever played the Call of Cthulhu tabletop RPG, you’re familiar with this concept. If not, you have sanity points, just like health points, and if you lose enough you break down. You see things that are not there. It was really awesome in this game.

Castlevania
Castlevania, in its first incarnation, was a platform game and it had vampires. I was sold! The story basically was the family of the Belmonts hunting vampires, trying to take out Dracula.

I started out playing Castlevania on the Nintendo and last played it on the Playstation, with the version Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which had rpg elements. It just was a ton of fun. I’m really looking forward to Castlevania: Lord of Shadows.

Soulcalibur
For the gamecube, I saw the game SoulCalibur II and I had to get it. It had Link as a player character!!!

Normally with fighting games, I would just mash buttons and hope I’d win. With SCII (on the PS2), I took the time to learn the moves of the characters I enjoyed playing, which included Link. In SoulCalibur III there was a bit more of story to the fighting game. It also had Tira Tira which I swear, some day, I will do a costume of hers.

Soulcalibur IV came out and we picked it up for the XBOX 360 (Though our 360 ended up damaging the disc after enough use). Again it was a lot of fun, especially for a fighting game.

Shining Force
Shining Force was a turn based strategy role playing game that I played on the Sega. It was actually a lot of fun, though there were lots of problems with the english translation.

Primarily I remember being excited by this game because you could have centaur player characters. You can see the full list of player characters here.

Final Fantasy
While I enjoyed the majority of the FF games I played, the one that really sticks out the most in my mind is Final Fantasy X. It was available on the PS2 and had a fantastic story, great cut scenes and gorgeous art. I loved how the game played as well. I really like turn based RPGs and I loved the whole unlocking with the powers and being able to summon.

Ray actually got completely addicted to the mini-game, Blitzball. Ray played it every chance he got.

MMORPGs – the newer addiction

Everquest
As far as MMORPGs go, I started with Everquest. I mostly played Dark Elves, Enchanter, Necromancer or Cleric classes. I loved my Dark Elves. I loved the whole being dedicated to a deity, who then influenced your factions with other cities and people. I played Everquest for 5 years, yet I never managed to make it to end game.

In between playing Everquest, I played in every single MMO beta I could find. I played Dark Age of Camelot and Asheron’s Call for a few months. However, DAoC made me ragequit and go back to Everquest (aka Evercrack).

City of Heroes
Finally, I got into the City of Heroes closed beta.

I actually made it to ‘end-game’ content in the beta because the class/spec I chose (Ice Electricity Blaster), and the developers bumped us up to max level to fight the end of the world boss. It was the most fun I’d ever had in a beta! I played the game and ran a Supergroup and led teams on missions and task forces. The character creation was AMAZING for CoH. I loved the amount of customization that was available.

I probably would have stuck around in City of Heroes a lot longer if WoW hadn’t came out. While I really enjoyed playing my Blaster classes in CoH, I felt like a certain fantasy element was lacking.

World of Warcraft
World of Warcraft, aka WoW, is my current MMO addiction. WoW didn’t do anything groundbreaking, exactly. The developers looked at all the previous MMOs that had been out, and what they’d done right and wrong, and then created a game that reflected things players enjoyed about MMOs and took out elements that players hated. The things that WoW lacked were death penalties, so that if you died in WoW, you didn’t lose your level, or XP, you just had a durability loss on your equipment. The art was very stylized, so it could be played on the widest variety of machines at min and max settings. Character creation was ok, it wasn’t great. Since the art is stylized and limited due to the graphic limitations of the world, some people really hated the art style and called it cartooney. I embraced it and at least found it cute. The quests and stories in the game are pretty enjoyable as you level up, though there are a ton of annoying collection quests where you’re competing for scarce resources with a lot of other players. I tend to prefer to not have to compete for resources in a game, myself.

Basically in WoW there are several reasonos to play the game. You can play the game to level, to explore, to collect and to craft. You can also play to raid (at the end game level), or to pvp. Some people complain because the end game is so signficiantly different from the levelling game. For the first year I played WoW, I didn’t raid. I didn’t start raiding until the expansion, the Burning Crusades came out. I raided all through Wrath of the Lich King, and I will most likely continue raiding when Cataclysm comes out. That means I’ve been playing WoW for about 6 years. I started playing WoW during the closed beta.

Because of all the time I play WoW, and let me tell you that end-game raiding is a significant time sink, I rarely play console games. This is also partially because I’ve lacked the ability to get into console games lately and probably why I haven’t touched Viva Piñata 2 and I really should.

How about you? What were some of your favorite games? I know I’ve left out some,  such as Tetris, Sonic and Dr. Mario, and I didn’t touch on every RPG that I’ve played, but I did hit the ones that really stood out to me.

tagged in Game Reviews