Does the name Hironobu Sakaguchi mean nothing? The man created Final Fantasy. Final Fantasy! He helped bring Chrono Trigger, Super Mario RPG, Xenogears and Parasite Eve to life. He is a videogaming legend. For some damn reason, that pedigree meant little for Blue Dragon. Nobody played it and those that did disagree about its merits. If you're into the cutesy bobble-headed characters, though, you'll find a meaty old-school epic with lovable heroes, despicable villains, addictive leveling, memorable music and gorgeous Pixar-like visuals. Whats not to love?
In Asura's Wrath, CyberConnect 2 made the Japanese equivalent of Heavy Rain, an emotionally overwrought interactive movie that often took direct control of events away from the player in order to show them the most dramatics sights possible. Unlike David Cage's games, though, Asura's Wrath leaned into video games' capacity to show you impossible things. A screaming anime man gets stabbed with a sword. Not unheard of. The sword here stretches from the moon to the surface of the earth. Now that's worth seeing.
Tony Hawk Proving Ground DS
By the ninth year of annual Tony Hawk's Pro Skater updates, the writing was on the wall. Gameplay was growing more and more indistinguishable, while the licensed pros were reduced to useless bit cameos in idiotic plots. The series was in desperate need of a breather. Heres the thing: the only thing that never sucked about Tony Hawk was the core gameplay. The only version of Proving Ground that maintained that focus on play was also the worst selling DS version. It was a little on the fugly side but it also trimmed the fat of its console siblings with zero analog Nail the Trick boredom.
Sid Meier's Civilization: Revolution
Fact: many gamers are turned off by the very notion of strategy. As such, many simply cast Civilization: Revolution as an exercise in boring spreadsheet management and moved on to the latest sci-fi or WWII shooter. In doing so, however, they missed what is probably the best and most accessible console implementation of turn-based strategy ever made. For an experience that was designed with keyboard and mouse in mind, Revolutions gamepad controls are still remarkably easy to learn. The bright colors and hypnotic music conjure a mesmerizing ambience in which the centuries drift by and your puny band of hunter-gatherers rise to military, economic or scientific dominance.
NBA Street Homecourt
The beauty of EAs Street franchise was that you didn't need to actually know anything about the sports you were playing. Rules were gleefully bended. Regulations were unapologetically broken. You could bounce balls off opponents heads, defy gravity by running up a wall or score multiple baskets within a single jump shot. NBA Street Homecourt, the last entry in the basketball series, opted for a slightly less show-off style, painting the sport with warm '70s nostalgia and casting the celebrity players as younger, not-yet-famous versions of themselves. The moves and dunks were still ridiculously over-the-top, the multiplayer still endlessly entertaining and the art never looked better, but the lack of in-your-face xtremeness must have turned away a large part of the audience. Shame.
Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise
Underneath its gorgeously bright visuals and kiddie-friendly, so-cute-I-want-to-choke-something exterior, the second Viva Pinata on 360 is a massive game. If you can manage to juggle all the various tasks keeping the pinatas getting along with one another, breeding baby pinatas, crafting new foods for them to eat in case it triggers a valuable mutation we don't need to tell you theres stupid depth here. It's like you start off playing Pokemon, but end up playing Civilization. Trouble in Paradise had an extended co-op multiplayer mode, 28 new pinatas, new desert and snow environments, and the power to scan in new critters via the pinata vision camera.
Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth
Miles Edgeworth is admittedly not as personable as his longtime rival Phoenix Wright. He's stoic, matter-of-fact, and struggles to even crack a smile at times. Giving him his own game would then seem like a risk, but Capcom wisely decided to change up the format in Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth , which put more of a focus on investigating crime scenes than battling in a courtroom, and the result was a fun new take on the series.
Condemned: Criminal Origins
Condemned: Criminal Origins is tragically underplayed and we can't understand why. For a game that launched early in the generation, Condemned had everything you could want: horror (seriously, the game will scare the crap out of you), solid shooting, and an interesting story. If you're planning on going back and revisiting some games you may have missed from the seventh console generation, we suggest starting with Condemned: Criminal Origins. Then go play the sequel. That game makes you fight a psychotic bear. Seriously.
Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon
The team behind the underrated the lovely, light Eternal Sonata (also on this list, how about) took a turn for the bruised and melancholic in Fragile Dreams. This post-apocalyptic story follows Seto, a 15-year-old boy looking for other living humans after a catastrophe wipes out the entirety of humanity. Players help Seto traverse the wreckage, fight ghosts with limited-use weapons, and solve puzzles with his flashlight. It is one of the most haunting games in the Wii library.
Third-person action, PlayStation exclusive. If we were to describe a game like that to you, we have little doubt that the words God of War or Infamous would be the first out of your mouths. Ninja Theory's Heavenly Sword should be a name synonymous with great PS exclusives, but its association with the PS3's troubled launch period has relegated it to B-tier status. The action is just as fierce, the story just as tragic, and the characters just as memorable as Kratos' many games, but it never connected with people in the same way. A lack of a proper sequel hurts (ahem) and developer Ninja Theory went on to make some very good games, including DmC: Devil May Cry and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. The intensely mediocre Heavenly Sword animated movie failed to rekindle interest in making this a series, sadly.