Buried Treasure: Vagrant Story (PS1)

August 29, 2006 at 5:25 pm (Lost Classics, Square-enix, Video Games)

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2000 was a good year for fans of Square-Enix, or Squaresoft as they were known back then. They released nearly a dozen titles, each gaining at worst cult status and at best critical acclaim from gamers and crtics alike. This was one of those titles, Vagrant Story. This game featured a complex plotline, lots of puzzles, a weapon customization/upgrade system, and espionage action not unlike Metal Gear solid, but in the dark ages. Although it didn’t use stealth, it made use of a sphere targeting system previously seen in Parasite Eve. Different weapons could damage different enemies, and they could all be upgraded and enhanced at a blacksmith’s shop. By timing your button presses correctly, you could unleash devastating combos on your opponent, doing massive damage. The trade off however, was that the farther you went along in the combo, the higher your “risk” meter became. The higher your risk was, the more damage you could do, but the less accurate your strikes were. The key to this game was keeping a good stash of weapons for whatever enemy you faced, and managing your risk. In the game, you play as Ashley Riot, a agent of the Valendia Knights of the Peace, or VKP for short. You were involved in a simple operation gone wrong, and now you are up against the kingdom’s elite troops, an apocalyptic cult leader, and a horde of beasts, both living and undead as you try to clear your name and get to the bottom of the conspiracy surrounding the ancient town.

When I got the game, I was at first dissappointed that it wasn’t the Midevil Metal Gear Solid I had been led to believe, but the game quickly redemmed itself with it’s mix of puzzles, story, and action. Even though it may not have sold like it should, you’d be hard pressed to find a gamer who didn’t enjoy it. This game ending leaves it open for a sequel which may unfortunantely never see the light of day.

Fun fact: This game was the third game to receive Famitsu’s (Japan’s gaming magazine) perfect score of 40/40. It was the first one earned by Squaresoft, and not even it’s Final Fantasy games have earned this score until Final Fantasy XII this past March. To date, only 5 other games have earned this score.

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Buried Treasure: The Parasite Eve series (Playstation)

August 15, 2006 at 10:24 am (Lost Classics, Square-enix, Video Games)

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For those of you just joining us, the Buried Treasures section is where I spotlight a game that, while it may not be as well known as the Mega Men, Final Fantasies, and Contras, it’s still a classic in it’s own right.  This week’s entry is the Parasite Eve series from Squaresoft years before they merged with Enix.  These two games strayed far away from the norm as you can get, eschewing the mideval/fantasy plots of other games and placing it within a Modern day setting with guns and a heavily laden sci-fi plot.  The first game was an RPG with Resident Evil-esque survival horror elements.  You play as Aya Brea, a New York police dectective attempting to prevent a catostrophic outbreak while discovering the secret within her own genetics.  The series deals with the origin and purpose of mitochondrial DNA (Yeah, I’m lost too, you’ll just have to play the game to understand).  The first game introduced a strange, but innovative targeting system which would allow players to target any part of thier enemy.  (This targeting system would later show up in another Square title, Vagrant Story.)  Also, you could upgrade your weapons, attaching any adjustments you could find on it.  When you beat the game the first time, the New Game+ opened up, allowing access to a secret area and the true ending.  The only bad part of this game was that there were no shops, so you had to rely upon whatever you found in chests or whatever was dropped by enemies after battle.

Parasite Eve 2 was a Resident Evil-esque survival horror game with RPG elements.  The combat was real time, and the weapon sphere and upgrade systems were unfortunantely gone.  Thankfully, by earning credits from defeating enemies, you could buy things at any one of the game’s shops.  The plot was designed so that players didn’t have to play through the first to understand the second game.  There were a number of hidden modes and weapons (including Squall’s gunblade) you could unlock in the game, and the plot was as science-heavy as in the first.

You should be able to find these games used at about any decent gaming store, so you might want to check them out especially if you’re a fan of Resident Evil. or are just tired of the same old RPG conventions.  Also of intrest is the movie and novel of the same name.

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