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Tycho / on Mon, Dec 27 2004 at 4:30 am

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The Last Christmas, Page Five

The Last Christmas cycle is now complete.  I hope that you’ve enjoyed it, as it was a lot of fun to make, but I understand that those two states are not always correlated.  I consider the entire project a success, largely because I was able to rhyme something with gestate.

7.  Metroid Prime 2

Initially it was a kind of responsibility that put me to it, collecting the powerups I had amassed in other games bearing the Metroid title and charging my beams dutifully.  It seemed wrong somehow for those advanced technologies to be scattered around unused or the plaything of an oil-slick creature of shadow.  Before I knew it I was up all night, those missions were my own missions, my reconstituted arsenal boring caverns in an enemy carapace with unheard of energies.  The game is simply engrossing.  I relish any opportunity to hold the Wavebird for an extended period, and it’s always distressed me that there are so few opportunities.  I suppose I could sit and hold it in the dark, but that’s hardly the kind of experience I’m talking about.   

6.  Shadow Hearts

Gabriel, whose enthusiasm for Shadow Hearts causes him to deliver passionate oratories, could probably explain to you better why he thinks Shadow Hearts should be here - but I think I can paraphrase him.  The highly customizable Judgement Ring, a conceit that makes every strike in the game an affair of arcade precise timing, brings an immediacy to a turn-based system that he’s found himself missing in other, higher rated RPGs.  Moreover, the game is funny, with its original homosexual-tailor-based advancement system and other subversions of genre staples.  It is a parody of the overwrought narrative which is utterly universal in Japanese role-playing games.  Indeed, it is an antidote.

5.  Ninja Gaiden

When you first start playing Ninja Gaiden you might be overwhelmed with its difficulty - that was certainly true in my case.  In fact, it was difficult to the degree that it was utterly demoralizing and it ended up on the shelf underneath something else so I wouldn’t constantly be reminded of my deficiencies.  Just before Team Ninja released their first content drop, I fished it back out and found that I couldn’t stop playing it.  The reason for this is that it is one of the best action games in years, with meaty conflicts that look almost choreographed manifesting a combat system that is clearly the result of exhaustive, iterated design and testing. It is not an accident if you succeed in Ninja Gaiden - it’s the result of your internalizing the lessons.  It will digest you if you aren’t ready for it.  It’s rare that a game is difficult without feeling cheap, and in Ninja Gaiden for the most part I have to offer up a grudging respect.

(CW)TB out.

don’t you tell a single soul

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