Pick 5: Favorite Game Boy Advance Games

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In a follow up of sorts to my list of favorite PlayStation 2 games I give you my favorite Game Boy Advance games. These aren’t necessarily my top five as much as some of my favorite GBA titles. And as such THIS DOESN’T INCLUDE GAMES I HAVEN’T PLAYED and ISN’T LISTED IN ANY SPECIFIC ORDER other than the order in which I thought of them.

ASTRO BOY: OMEGA FACTOR
It’s safe to say that most games based on the Astro Boy license are terrible. However this GBA cartridge breaks the mold. Anybody who’s a fan of 2D beat-’em-ups or shoot-’em-ups will really enjoy this game even if you don’t care or know about the story or characters from the anime. Astro Boy himself controls and animates very well making for the use of his moves (normal, special, or super) extremely satisfying.

BALDUR’S GATE: DARK ALLIANCE
I don’t know what prompted me to buy this game a number of years ago. It may have received good reviews or it was on sale at a cheap price. Either way I don’t usually play many hack-‘n-slash titles. I enjoy them, but I’m not normally drawn to them often. With that said, it was quite an enjoyable experience even if I did get stuck a few times. The graphics are suitable and I felt the difficulty was overall more manageable than the console version.

CASTLEVANIA: ARIA OF SORROW
The GBA library is fairly short on lengthier action platformers and this is where the Castlevania series had been extremely helpful. It’s a joy to play this particular entry in the series. Soma’s unique soul stealing ability may make it a bit bothersome at times to get the subweapon you want from a specific enemy, but fun all the same. With a bunch of unlockables it’s easy to see why this is a top notch Castlevania game…from the future.

METROID FUSION
As one of the first Metroid games I finished, Fusion had many great moments that I liked. What was most memorable about it to me was the different enemies called “X” and the more story driven game which was the introduction of Adam Malkovich, but in name only. Even with these differences to the typical Metroid game it still very much feels and plays like the series is known for.

SUPER STREET FIGHTER II: TURBO REVIVAL
The Game Boy Advance isn’t exactly known for having a lot of fighting games to choose from, but from what it does have most are well made. This entry in the Street Fighter series is one of the best and has several additional modes to have fun with like survival and time attack. If you’ve ever had fun with an SF game, then you’d do yourself well by picking up this fantastic port of the timeless arcade game.

New Releases 2009: Oct. 18-31

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Another great set of weeks to be a gamer. Borderlands looks interesting as does the newest WWE game. IGN’s review made the latter game look good to me and I haven’t bought any of those games since Here Comes The Pain.

I hope that Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is great on the PSP. I was going to buy the DS version, but this one looks to be slightly better. I’d also like to see the GTA Episodes make it to the PS3, but I wouldn’t be all that upset if they didn’t.

Out of all of these games my pick would have to be Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time. I’ve enjoyed the series up until now and I don’t expect to be disappointed with this new installment.

NEW GAMES FOR THE WEEK OF 10/18
Astro Boy: The Video Game (PS2, DS, WII, X360, PSP, PS3)
Bakugan Battle Brawlers (PS2, PS3, X360, DS, WII)
Borderlands (X360, PS3)
Cooking Mama 3: Shop & Chop (DS)
Dragon Ball: Revenge of King Piccolo (WII)
Everquest II: The Complete Collection (PC)
FIFA Soccer 10 (PS2, X360, PS3, DS, PSP, WII)
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (PSP)
Marvel Super Hero Squad (PSP, PS2, WII, DS)
MotorStorm: Arctic Edge (PS2)
NBA 2K10 (WII)
Space Invaders Extreme 2 (DS)
Trine (PSN)
WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2010 (PS2, PS3, PSP, X360, DS, WII)

NEW GAMES FOR THE WEEK OF 10/25
Borderlands (PC)
DJ Hero (PS2, PS3, WII, X360)
Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter (DS, WII)
Fairytale Fights (X360, PS3)
Forza Motorsport 3 (X360)
Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony (X360)
Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City (X360)
Ninja Blade (PC)
Nostalgia (DS)
Painkiller: Resurrection (PC, X360)
Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time (PS3)
Saw (PC)
Tekken 6 (PS3, X360)
Vandal Hearts: Flames of Judgment (X360, PS3)

2007 Game of the Year

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This year, just like last year, I was going to make a number of graphics for the huge awards for 2007. Well, if you’ve seen Usagi704’s awards, then you’ll know that I did all of the graphics that he used. Once I was finished doing that I tried to do mine, but for whatever reason I was less than excited to do them. This lead me to think up a different idea to present my awards or should I say award.

I will only be presenting the big Game of the Year award. There will be 13 nominees and they will come from my monthly Now Playing blog posts (December ’06-December ’07). The 13 games will consist of the games that I enjoyed the most for each month. This rule will be the case regardless of whether or not I’ve played the game before. It also doesn’t matter if the game was released in 2007 or not. So in case you were wondering, yes, a game can win back-to-back Game of the Year awards if I choose to do this again in the future with these same rules.

THE NOMINEES
12/06 — Astro Boy: Omega Factor (GBA)
1/07 — The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (PS2)
2/07 — Crackdown (X360)
3/07 — Burnout Revenge (PS2)
4/07 — Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (DS)
5/07 — Raiden Trad (GEN)
6/07 — God of War II (PS2)
7/07 — Ultimate Spider-Man (PS2)
8/07 — Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando (PS2)
9/07 — Final Fantasy III (SNES)
10/07 — Gradius III (SNES)
11/07 — Mortal Kombat Trilogy (N64)
12/07 — Crash Bandicoot: Warped (PS)

And the winner is: one of these 13 games once I make this difficult decision. :P

Pick 5: Worst 2D to 3D Games

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The crew over at ScrewAttack.com said that this coming week they will have a new top 10 video. The subject will be on 2D games that didn’t make the transition to 3D so well.

So with that coming up I decided to do another Pick 5 feature naming a few video game series’ that I feel lack the quality of its earlier 2D games.

Astro Boy
Released on the same date in 2004, both the PlayStation 2 and Game Boy Advance received a game based on the Astro Boy universe. The developer of the GBA game, Hitmaker, lived up to their name as their hard work created a 2D masterpiece. On the other hand, Sonic Team tried to bring Astro Boy into 3D will little success.

Castlevania
Konami’s Castlevania series is probably one of the few that have transitioned better than most to 3D. It started out decent enough with Castlevania on the Nintendo 64, but has been fairly mediocre ever since with the most recent 3D release being that of Curse of Darkness in 2005. It’s pretty unfortunate that the last console release of a 2D Castlevania was Symphony of the Night. Since then all of the new 2D games have been solely released on portable systems like the GBA and DS.

Contra
Contra has always retained its 2D roots in the gameplay even when the graphics went to 3D. Even so this series hasn’t been able to escape from its share of bad 3D games. Contra: Legacy of War for the PlayStation was the first 3D game in the series. It was a fair entry to start things off that you’d think would get better. Nope. It sure didn’t. All the evidence you need for this case is in the PS game C: The Contra Adventure. Thankfully it was followed up by the better 3D game in the series with Shattered Soldier on the PS2.

I’m glad that Konami has finally given the green light for a brand new 2D Contra adventure to be released later this year on the DS called Contra 4. It will be the direct sequel to the 1992 SNES game, Contra III: The Alien Wars!

Sonic the Hedgehog
The Sonic series is probably the most currently well known set of games to fail when it comes to a 3D game with Sonic the Hedgehog on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Sonic Heroes and Sonic Adventure were fairly decent, but all can agree that the 2D games are where it’s at. Whether the game was on the Genesis or Game Gear and even more recently with the GBA and DS, fans of the series can always trust a 2D Sonic game to give them the speed that they need.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles didn’t start off so good with their first game on the NES. However, the very next game was exactly what it needed to be. A simply awesome port of the beat-’em-up arcade game. Once that was accomplished the TMNT games were great all the way through the 16-bit era with the best game being Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time on the Super Nintendo (along with the similar Genesis title Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist).

After a decade games based on the new revival of the TMNT cartoon showed up. This time it was in 3D and it was less of a success. Scores that ranged from mediocre to down right poor are about as good as it’s been up to this point. I’m sure that nobody’s expecting the upcoming TMNT movie based game for the PlayStation 3 to be any better than the Xbox 360 version. I know I’m not.

GBA Madness…and Some PS2

Within the past month the following games are the newest additions to my collection. All games were new and for $20.

Sega Genesis Collection (PS2)
Astro Boy: Omega Factor (GBA)
Sonic Advance 3 (GBA)
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (GBA)
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (GBA), exception – free

These next two games were Christmas gifts.

The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (PS2)
Capcom Classics Mini Mix (GBA)

Now Playing: December ’06

“Now Playing” is back at ya with last month’s carry over of Mortal Kombat II via the SNES and Final Fight One for the GBA.

Games that I’ve finished were: Call of Duty 2: Big Red One, Ridge Racer V, and Astro Boy: Omega Factor.

Astro Boy was a surprisingly simple yet somewhat difficult game that was extremely fun to play. I still like going back to it. The same can be said for Ridge Racer V even though it’s super short. That’s to be expected since the game’s on a CD and not a DVD. CoD’s Big Red One is unlike any of the other games from that series. It’s story sticks with one group of guys instead of shifting off to a different group right before you get to know the characters. It’s also a bonus that a couple of the cast members from the Band of Brothers mini-series did the voice work.

A game that I’m close to finishing is Gears of War. I’m near the end of the train segment with the big baddie that was the first to take out one of the Delta squad members earlier in the game.

Other games that I put my hands on this month were: Half-Life 2, Call of Duty 3 (PS2), Sonic Advance 3, Assault Heroes, Sega Genesis Collection (PS2), Capcom Classics Mini Mix, and Street Fighter II Turbo.

The Sega Genesis Collection had all new games, at least to me. I never had a Genesis during the 16-bit era so whether I knew of the games included or not, I had never played any of them before. I liked the two Sonic the Hedgehog games way more than I thought that I would. What helps with that is that you can save your game anywhere and at anytime. It’s just like “save states” in PC emulation. It’s an awesome feature that I’m super happy that was added thanks to Digital Eclipse! Shinobi III, Comix Zone, and five early Sega arcade games (ie: the original Altered Beast) are there to sweeten the pot. RPG fans will be really pleased that no less than four games from that genre are on this PS2 disc. The lesser known Sword of Vermilion and Phantasy Star II, III, and IV. Other multi-game series’ included in the package are Ecco the Dolphin (3), Golden Axe (3), Shinobi (2), and Vectorman (2).

All in all it was a great month of gaming!

Pick 5: Games I Haven’t Played But I Should

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In a follow up to the previous Pick 5 feature, GameSpot has switched from games that made you cool to games that you should play, but haven’t yet. Out of the five games that I narrowed my choices down to, two of them I actually own. The most amazing thing about these five games is that they all scored within the range of 8.9-9.2. Here they are…

1. Astro Boy: Omega Factor (GBA)
Even though I’m not familiar with the Astro Boy universe, I was convinced that this was a good game after viewing Greg Kasavin’s video review. I wish I’d bought it before now since I don’t see it on store shelves much anymore. Not only that but it has been on my wish list ever since it was released. Maybe I can blame all of this on the fact that I already have quite a few challenging games that I’m currently playing. Astro Boy looks like another one of those games, which means it will more than likely be awhile before I get it.

2. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS)
I’ve said before about how much I wanted to find a copy of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, as I’m sure some of you know. Well, I did find one on eBay for $29 and even though it’s in great condition I have yet to play it. I hardly touched Curse of Darkness, but I still put a boring 3D Castlevania before a 2D version. How cruel am I?

3. Gunstar Super Heroes (GBA)
How about that? Another GBA game also made by Sega and Treasure made it onto my short list. This game has the same problem that Astro Boy has. That being another challenging old school 2D action game. I recently bought Sonic Rush for the DS and let’s just say that Sega loves to taunt me with the back cover of the manual. I found it quite amusing.

4. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (PS2)
At the time of its release, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time didn’t make me say, “Wow! I should get that game without a doubt.” On the contrary, I had a lot of doubt despite all of the praise it was receiving. I played a little bit of the previous 2D games and found them too difficult for my tastes. I figured The Sands of Time was just a 3D version of those older 2D games. However, after giving it some thought I’m sure that I could muscle my way though it.

5. Syphon Filter (PS)
It’s time to return to the category of “Games I Have” as I do own Syphon Filter. Although that didn’t happen until the last few months I still have yet to play it. A lot of that can be attributed to the large number of games that I did purchase at or around the same time. Since it does have some stealth in the game I’m not totally excited to start playing it, but, hey, if I can slowly work my way though Splinter Cell, then I can certainly tackle Syphon Filter.