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The Other 25:
The OTHER Games Iím Looking Forward to...
Written By:
J. Michael Neal

Part Four

Weíre reaching the end of the alphabet, my friends. Only two more installments to go. Letís see what treasures we can further unearth with Part Four of our featureÖ

 

Okami

Why Iím Excited: The same team that did Viewtiful Joe makes it. Seriously, do I need to say anymore? Any announcement those guys make will automatically perk my attention. Aside from that, I know very little about this one. I know itís about restoring color to a black and white world (noÖ literally), looks gorgeous with itís hand-painted, ink and water color style, and has what looks like some fast-paced combat. Oh yeah, and you play as some wolf-god. What more do I need to know? Get me my pre-order slip NOWÖ

Why It May Go Unnoticed: Okami will probably suffer from a similar fate as Killer 7, i.e. being too original for itís own good. Frankly, it just looks too wonderful to be any kind of a unit-pusher. Meanwhile the Getaway manages to become a Greatest Hit. Justice, where are you?!

Systems: PS2.

 

Otogi 2: Immortal Warriors

Why Iím Excited: The first Otogi managed to overcome fairly monotonous gameplay with slick design, beautiful visuals, haunting audio, and a surprising amount of replayability. Immortal Warriors will, hopefully, build off everything that made the first game worth owning while addressing the weaker areas that needed improvement. It will offer six playable characters, each with their own set of abilities, attacks, and spells, improved visuals, flashier effects, grander environment destruction, expanded RPG elements, and the original Otogi (well, letís keep our fingers crossed that this Japanese bonus makes it Stateside). I know I canít wait.

Why It May Go Unnoticed: Like so many of the games on this list, if its predecessor went unnoticed, thereís a good chance the sequel will go unnoticed as well. Although Otogi quickly became a cult classic among Xbox owners and Sega fans, it never really caught on with the mainstream, which had already been burned by its shallow and frustrating spiritual progenitor, Shinobi. Although Otogi was more of a realization of what Shinobi could have been, its lack of depth and ďstyle-over-substanceĒ presentation pushed many potential buyers away, and even a wave of positive reviews couldnít do much to promote the game. Hopefully the same wonít happen when Otogi 2ís released this October.

System: Xbox.

 

Phantom Brave (just released!)

Why Iím Excited: ďNippon IchiĒ. To many of you, this name probably means nothing. To fans of turn-based tactical console RPGs, youíve probably soiled your shorts already. Nippon Ichi are the developers behind the amazing PS2 insto-classics La Pucelle: Tactics and Disgaea: Hour of Darkness. Featuring off-the-wall stories, wacky characters, and some of the deepest, most rewarding, most replayable tactical gameplay to ever grace the console world, La Pucelle and Disgaea proved that sprites arenít dead, theyíre just waiting for someone to do them right. Phantom Brave looks set to out play them all, bringing deeper gameplay, wackier characters, an even more insane story, and wall-to-wall cameos to the table. I donít know about you, but Iím gonna be all over this one like stank on a monkey.

Why It May Go Unnoticed: If you are a fan of Nippon Ichiís previous work, Iím sure this one is already well on your radar. Too bad there arenít that many people out there that consider themselves ďNippon Ichi fansĒ. Disgaea is becoming increasingly more difficult to find, new, used, or otherwise, and La Pucelle will surely follow suit, but this seems as equally due to ďRPG collectorsĒ hording copies to sell on eBay for a pretty penny five or six years down the road as it does people actually buying and enjoying these games. Phantom Brave will eventually become just as sought after, but this probably wonít happen in its time. My advice? Buy two copies when the game comes out Ė one to play and enjoy, and one to sell at a profit a few years down the road. Thatís what Iíve been doing so far, and itís worked out great.

Systems: PS2.

 

The Punisher

Why Iím Excited: ďA licensed game? How did that get here?Ē No, I have not lost my mind. The Punisher actually looks pretty damned good! No. Really. Ok, first of all, Volition (Red Faction, FreeSpace) is a pretty solid developer. They can definitely pull off a solid shooter. Second, Jimmy Palmiotti and Garth Ennis (Mr. Preacher himself!) penned the gameís story, and Palmiotti worked hand-in-hand with the developers to craft everything else. Levels, enemies, dialogue, feel Ė it should all be right on target thanks to this wise decision on the part of Volition, making this as close to seeing Frank Castle jump off the page as youíre going to get for a long, long time. Third, and most importantly, it looks like a satisfyingly gore-rrific shooter, and thatís before you factor in the wickedly sick ďInterrogation modeĒ in! Shoving guysí faces in deep fryers? Chucking dudes into wood-chippers?! Drowning mofos in piranha tanks!?! If those donít get your attention, I donít know what willÖ

Why It May Go Unnoticed: Letís see, itís by Volition, from THQ, based off a comic movie that sucked, and will probably be a bit on the shallow side. Iím sure it will get a relatively indifferent reception. Hopefully, the success and general awesomeness of Spider-Man 2 will make the public a little more receptive to the idea of a good comic book movie game.

Systems: Xbox, PS2.

 

Rise of Kasai

 

Why Iím Excited: My prayers have been answered! I picked up The Mark of Kri for $9.99 at Best Buy months and months and months ago. I thought I was just getting a good deal, little did I know I was also getting one of the most memorable PS2 games I have ever had the fortune to play. The Mark of Kri is a brilliant game. Itís the kind of game that showcases why interactive entertainment is the next frontier of storytelling. Itís like a film but better; itís like a cartoon but better; itís like a comic but better Ė it has an absolutely one of a kind art style, a wonder setting, charismatic characters, a stunning story, and gameplay that transcends genres. Sure, it had areas that could have used improvements, but as it stood, it was one of the best surprises the PS2 had to offer. All hope for a follow-up seemed lost, however, as Sony appeared to have turned its back on the potential franchise in the wake of poor sales. That was until this yearís E3, in which all us Kri fans dropped a collective load as a prequel/sequel to the game, entitled The Rise of Kasai, was quietly unveiled. What do I know about this game? Admittedly, very little, but I know enough. Itís a sequel to one of my favorite PS2 games of all times, itís coming out soon, color me pre-ordered.

Why It May Go Unnoticed: If at 10 bucks, The Mark of Kri could barely sell enough copies to make Sony feel it deserved a sequel, Iím sure at whatever this gameís MSRP, it will end up increasing the pile of Great Games No One Played. Tisk-tisk-tisk.

Systems: PS2.

<-- Part Three | Part Five -->

Posted: 9-4-04


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