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What Is Your Favorite Game Sequel?

There are great sequels. And then there are all the crappy ones that seem like little more than cynical cash grabs. I’m going to focus on the former.

Sometimes, the best sequels take a classic formula and evolve on them. I loved Final Fantasy II (IV in Japan), Uncharted II, Mass Effect 2, Super Mario Galaxy 2, and Phantasy Star II. Other times, they take the series in a completely different direction, giving it new life as with Resident Evil IV, Super Mario Bros. 2, and Grand Theft Auto III.

From a developer’s perspective, sequels can be a lot more work than they might seem on the surface. I’ve had the chance to work on multiple sequels, from the Medal of Honor games, to movie sequels, like Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2. It all comes down to planning; how much to reuse, and how much to adapt to new technology? In all the games and films I’ve worked on, it’s always been important to keep in mind that older iterations used older tech and modernizing them can take a lot more time. How to satisfy fans and stay true to the spirit of the original while also innovating enough so that it actually adds to the original?

I like how every main Final Fantasy is a standalone game without any real connection to the previous games (aside from character and thematic ties). Dragon Quest does a good job of tying to the legacy of the series while weaving a new story with each entry.

And then, there’s Chrono Cross. I wrote about Chrono Cross at Kotaku a few years back and called it “a bad sequel, but a brilliant game.” The interesting thing was, that was by design. As director Masato Kato stated: “In my view, the whole point in making Chrono Cross was to make a new Chrono with the best available skills and technologies of today. I never had any intentions of just taking the system from Trigger and moving it onto the PlayStation console. That’s why I believe that Cross is Cross, and NOT Trigger 2.”

If you take Cross more as a thematic link to Trigger, rather than a sequel, you start to see Chrono Cross’ unique brilliance. It’s about different realities, the choices characters makes, and how circumstances give people varying lives based on those decisions. Serge is one of the most dramatic examples, being dead in one universe, and alive and thriving in another. Following those threads to their ends and seeing the way their fates are interlinked is in some ways deeper than the genealogy of time with Trigger. And the soundtrack is nothing sort of sublime.

So Kotaku, the question today is, what is your favorite game sequel?

Source: Kotaku.com

What Is Your Favorite Game On A Portable System?

Up until recently, I didn’t play many portable games. Even when I did, I liked to play them on a TV screen, which is why I used the Game Boy Player for my GameCube to play many of my favorite GBA games like Metroid Fusion, Astro Boy: Omega Factor, The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, Oracle of Seasons, Oracle of Ages, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, and Golden Sun. But as there hasn’t been an official TV adaptor for the DS (at least none that are just plug and play like the Game Boy Player), I’ve missed out on Nintendo’s latest portable system. That was until I got a new 2DS

I’ve spent a lot more time playing on the dual screens and it’s been fantastic. From games like Radiant Historia, The World Ends With You, Bravely Default, Ghost Trick (which I’ll be writing about tomorrow), and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, I’ve honestly been unable to stop playing whenever I have a chance. Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime was especially fun with its blend of quirky DQ humor and action adventure strategy against the big Plob tanks.

Each of these games incorporates mechanics that would be a lot harder on a traditional console and work so well because of their portable nature. As I wrote about earlier in the day, I loved how Hotel Dusk has you flipping the DS and playing it like a book. The experience was uniquely haunting and I loved playing it over the duration of several airplane flights.

This has made me realize I’ve missed out on a whole lot of games from the PS Vita, PSP, and a slew of other portable systems.

So Kotaku, what is your favorite game on a portable system?

Source: Kotaku.com

What’s The Scariest Moment You’ve Experienced In A Game?

I like zombie games. I like open world experiences. Mixing them together gives you The Evil Within 2.

Sebastian Castellanos’s plunge back into the shared reality of STEM takes you into a Twin Peakesque town called Union that is as distorted as your fractured psyche. There’s a killer photographer on the loose who’s murdering his victims, then taking a picture in their final moments so that they become frozen in a death loop. Are they conscious? Do they repeatedly experience the pain and the horror of realizing that they’re going to die?

At the same time, knowing everything was just a projection in my head dulled a big part of the fear I felt. What did I have to be scared about when it was just a virtual reality simulation in Sebastian’s mind?

That feeling changed early on in my foray into Union. You find a house where a woman is feeding what appears to be her child. “Clean your plate. You got to eat,” she gently says. But he’s so full, he can’t eat anymore. She begins to force him to chow more food down, bashing his face into the table. He is alive, even though he appears utterly horrified and confused by what’s happening to him.

“I’m doing what’s best for you,” she states angrily as she stuffs him with food. Even though he’s human, he looks like a zombie, both physically and mentally, as more food is shoved down his throat.

“What the?” Sebastian says, mirroring our own incredulous disgust. I couldn’t help but wonder what actual relationship do they have? Why does she want him to eat so badly? And which sick STEM programmer thought to put in the detail of flies infesting old food, skin rotting off, and the graphically accurate visuals of what a bashed-in head actually looked like?

The whole scene freaked me out.

So Kotaku, what was the scariest/most disturbing moment you’ve ever experienced in a game?

Source: Kotaku.com

What Is The Hardest Game Level You’ve Played?

Dark Souls, Battletoads, Ninja Gaiden, and Cuphead wear their difficulty as a badge of pride. They crush souls and spirits alike, and results in a lot of fatigued fingers. Playing them feels like Groundhog Days of death; Live, Die, Repeat, and Repeat! Sometimes it’s about memorization, recognizing patterns, knowing where random enemies spawn, like in Contra and Ghosts ‘n Goblins. Other times, there’s an art to it as mastery of specific skills makes the levels manageable, like in the Souls series as well as the modern Ninja Gaiden games. Of course, there’s hard levels like the final stage of the Lost World in Donkey Kong Country 2, the technodrome in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the NES. as well as the dams in Phantasy Star II that caused me so much gaming anguish. Being a videogame protagonist in one of those game’s must be an excruciating series of painful deaths that must make them wonder what cruel individual is forcing them to relive their nightmares repeatedly.

Every so often, the difficulty can be due to a well crafted combination of tension and gameplay, and those are my favorite sequences.

There’s a moment in Shadowrun on the SNES when you go to fix your datajack. You hear a ticking sound inside your head and realize someone had installed a cortex bomb to stop you from fixing your jack. The next few minutes are a frenetic dash to save yourself before your brain explodes. The commodification and corporatization of society is one of the major themes in the game and there’s a grim, but darkly humorous, commentary on technology like this being used to enslave, and destroy here. It was for me, one of the most tense and difficult moments I’ve experienced in a game.

So Kotaku, what is the hardest game level (or game) you’ve ever played?

Source: Kotaku.com