Resident Evil Zero

Resident Evil Zero is, much like its chronological sequel, a flawed game, with the shortcomings it exhibits being of a magnitude and frequency that make them very hard to ignore. At the same time, though, its prowess in matters of tension and fear is absolutely notable, because playing it is being constantly surrounded by sheer dread, whether stemming from an unshakable feeling that something horrifying is always about to happen or originating in its sometimes overwhelming shortage of resources, and that ability is boosted by a fairly original gameplay setup that finds its own signature both in a slightly heavier focus on action and in the presence of a duo of protagonists that must work together in order to survive. And it is thanks to those excellent features that the game justifies its existence, for although it does not succeed either in improving on the chapter that it works as a prequel to or in satisfyingly filling up the blanks it left, Resident Evil Zero plays sufficiently different but also pleasantly familiar to it, and even if such proximity does not continuously work for the best, it ends up being more positive than negative.

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Resident Evil

The immaculate and horrific atmosphere of Resident Evil is clearly the product of a game whose every single piece was designed to serve its ability to create tension. Sometimes, that subordination works for the best, as it is the case of its frightening scenarios, its calculated soundtrack, its obscure and fragmented storytelling approach, its controlled yet open-ended exploration, its ominous puzzles, and its dedication towards putting players in situations where life is only maintained through grueling survival. Sadly, that focus also causes a couple of considerable slips, which come to the surface in its constantly shifting and fixed camera angles as well as in the extreme implementation of its inventory system. As big as these problems may be, though, Resident Evil is just too successful in mixing genuine horror with engaging gameplay to be contained by any of that. Once it starts, its infectious suspense breaks through whatever physical barriers stand on its way, quickly surrounding gamers and immersing them inside a thriller that tests one’s capacity to both be resilient and not look away.

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Mega Man X

Mega Man X is the particular kind of game that, at the same time, succeeds because it is too similar to what came before it while also struggling for that same reason. Its levels are finely designed and its bosses are utterly memorable, supporting a gameplay experience that is undeniably enjoyable; however, as the franchise was leaping between generations, it is partially disappointing to see it remained strongly attached to its 8-bit roots. While many major gaming properties took advantage of the arrival of a new era to expand their reach, try out new ideas, or simply mature, Mega Man stood pat. With a decreased level of difficulty when compared to its NES counterparts, the value of the package of eight robot bosses it offered grew shorter; and although it does try some new tricks to give more depth to its content, a couple of them are not fully realized. Regardless of those shortcomings, though, Mega Man X is one of the Super Nintendo’s best combinations of action and platforming. Even if for those who are familiar with what came before it, the game may wind up feeling like it is too safe for its own good.

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The Legend Of Zelda: Oracle Of Seasons

Similarly to its counterpart, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons is a considerable step-up for the franchise’s handheld line of games following the impressive Link’s Awakening. And that is because even though it is built over the same framework as that game, which proved without a drop of doubt that the adventures of the hero in green could work in a smaller scale, it is not merely satisfied with achieving greatness through similar means. As such, it chooses to evolve and take risks by bringing puzzle-solving into its overworld via a remarkable mechanic that allows Link to control the seasons; by exploring new items that are smartly used in the creation of refreshing challenges; and by giving its impressively designed dungeons an action-focused touch in filling them up with rooms where killing enemies and avoiding traps work as the main course. And those pieces come together to form a unique and charming quest that still stands as one of the series’ strongest outings.

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The Legend Of Zelda: Oracle Of Ages

Perhaps understanding the stellar quality of the 2-D efforts that came before it, Oracle of Ages is – therefore – not satisfied with being just another The Legend of Zelda game that uses a top-down perspective to give players a glimpse into its world. Given that Link’s Awakening had already solidly proved that adventures as big as those of the hero in green could work on a handheld system, it is clear that Oracle of Ages sets out to expand upon that game’s achievements. And it does so marvelously well not only by utilizing its time-traveling mechanics to bring puzzle-solving out of the dungeons and into the overworld, but also by magnifying the testing nature of its mazes in shifting the focus of individual rooms from combats and switch-pressing to riddles of a more demanding nature. And through marrying this inclination for puzzles with the joy of exploring the colorful world of Labrynna and the pleasure of meeting the many amusing characters that are involved in its time-related conundrums, the greatness of Oracle of Ages is fully realized.

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Resident Evil: Revelations

Resident Evil Revelations is ridiculously easy to recommend. Even though almost half of its core campaign is wasted on not-so-compelling shooting sections, the survival segments are a showcase of the series at its very peak. At times, the storyline might get a little bit too convoluted due to the web of happenings surrounding it, but the plot – and the way it is slowly developed – keeps the experience interesting all the way through, going beyond making players wonder what is around the next corner, and also making them look forward to discovering the truth behind what is going on in the ship.

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Monster Hunter Stories

Monster Hunter Stories is a nice detour for a property that has spent its long life treading the same excellent ground with varying and usually high degrees of success. With its looks and monster-collecting ways, it is bound to attract a younger audience right into the grasp of its claws; some of the holes of its battle system, though, will leave plenty of room for frustration to sneak into the experience. If gamers are able to overcome that problem, however, what they will find is an enchanting world filled with content, featuring an adventure that can easily last for over thirty hours, hordes of sidequests, and the opportunity to take one’s scientifically assembled team of monsters online to face off against other riders. Monster Hunter Stories is not a total winner, but its quality could pave the way for improvements that may end up turning it into quite a gem, even if the core of its gameplay is derivative of both the line of games from which it originates and the unstoppable Pokemon franchise.

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Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

Ghost Trick is one of the best games on the Nintendo DS, and that is saying a lot for system that had a life cycle of six years during which it built one of the strongest lineups the gaming world has ever seen. The game presents an extremely original concept that is as engaging as it is fresh, and the solid writing behind that element makes it materialize in a remarkable way. There is not much to the game when it comes to replay value, but the regular adventure lasts for some good twelve hours and it is hard to forget all the remarkable moments the game provides players with. Among many of the original concepts that found their home on the Nintendo DS, Ghost Trick is one of the most refreshing.

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Okamiden

Okamiden is one of the best titles in a system that is widely know for its strong library and certainly one of the grandest adventures to ever be put inside a Nintendo handheld. It is a precious gift to a world that, for a little while there, ran the risk of never again playing a new Okami game. We should all be thankful Amaterasu blessed us with yet another journey into the world of Nippon.

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Okami

Despite the occasional problems players may have when using the Celestial Brush via the Wiimote, it is hard – not to say impossible – to walk away from Okami with the feeling that it is one beautiful game. Its beauty, though, is not of the superficial kind. Surely, there is a great deal of eye-candy and artistic glory to be found in its thirty-hour journey, and it is hard to avoid walking towards a beach or to a peak just to spin the camera around and bask under the magnificence of its watercolor spell. However, Okami’s real beauty is found in a level that is emotional – borderline spiritual. It is in the growth of its characters, the message of its script, and the soul that was poured into every single one of its tightly designed corners. To boot, it fills up that loveliness with a gameplay that drinks from the very best sources and that adds a special thematically cohesive flavor of its own to the recipe.

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