Monday, June 17, 2019

All-Star Franchises, Underrated Entries - Part Thirteen

If you've been around SuperPhillip Central for a little while (it's still okay if you haven't, so no harm done), then you know that I like talking about underrated and overlooked games. I've done various series on the subject. However, most of the time, the games mentioned in these articles are from wholly new or overlooked franchises themselves.

There are also a multitude of series that I can think of that have one, two, or a handful of games in it that aren't viewed as highly as the others, whether just or not.

These ideas are where the concept of All-Star Franchises, Underrated Entries comes from, and since our 12th edition, I've come up with six more underrated entries to big-time franchises, some bigger than others. If you'd like to see past parts of this long-running series, check them out here:

Final Fantasy - World of Final Fantasy (PS4, XB1, NSW, PC, Vita)

Our first game on this edition of All-Star Franchises, Underrated Entries comes from a franchise that is quite storied and a long-lasting one, Final Fantasy. With Final Fantasy VII Remake officially pinned down for a March 2020 release, I figured it'd be an opportune time to talk about a Final Fantasy game that is on the opposite side of the popularity spectrum. That's not to say World of Final Fantasy and its enhanced Maxima version are bemoaned by franchise fans, but it also doesn't mean that World of Final Fantasy is considered anything more than a cult classic at best. The ability to capture and do battle with familiar Final Fantasy monsters, return to several memorable locations with Final Fantasy favorite heroes and heroines, all joined by a captivating game made World of Final Fantasy quite a treasure to behold. World of Final Fantasy is a family-friendly, sensational love letter to fans of Final Fantasy.

Valkyria Chronicles - Valkyria Chronicles 4 (PS4, XB1, NSW, PC)

SEGA seems to have a tremendous skill in sending out many of its games to just falter in a crowded release period. For a franchise that seldom saw sensational sales like Valkyria Chronicles, it was a death sentence for the game's fourth mainline installment to release in the busy pre-holiday season that it did. Offering a refined update to the tried and true tactical RPG action that the series is known for, Valkyria Chronicles 4 failed to become a darling on the sales charts, despite its great quality. It's an obvious shame, as now the Valkyria Chronicles series may be like a rusty old tank now, doomed to spend who knows how long in a hangar in SEGA's arsenal of retired franchises.

Trials - Trials Rising (PS4, XB1, NSW, PC)

You can teach an old franchise new tricks, and that's exactly what the developers at Ubisoft did with Trials Rising. Now, I'll get this out of the way that Trials Rising is far from the optimal game in the series--what, with its loot boxes, progression, and disordered level select menu, but it says something about the game where I could easily overlook those issues because of just how much fun I was having with Trials Rising. Between fully customizing the look of my rider, finding the best lines and paths to take in tracks to get those elusive Diamond medals, and simply enjoying competing against the AI or other human players made for a fantastic Trials offering. The collection of tracks and courses in Trials Rising is the best the series has yet to see, and despite the serious issues (including some nasty glitches) with the game, Trials Rising made me smile more than it got me frustrated.

Killzone - Killzone: Shadow Fall (PS4)

A previous edition of All-Star Franchises, Underrated Entries had Killzone: Mercenary from the PlayStation Vita in it. While I don't dare argue that the PlayStation 4 launch title Killzone: Shadow Fall holds a candle to it, I don't dare argue that the game is a poor first-person shooter either. In fact, it's quite good and amazed me with its quality. Between the open-ended level design, the high-octane action, and the highly enjoyable multiplayer, Killzone: Shadow Fall managed to be a game that I couldn't help but want to play through again and again--even going as far as to play through the whole campaign without dying and earning the trophy for this achievement. (Brag session over.) While Guerrilla Games has gone on to bigger and better projects such as Horizon: Zero Dawn, I still maintain that the developer's work on Killzone and Killzone: Shadow Fall is truly terrific.

Hot Shots Golf / Everybody's Golf - Everybody's Golf (PS4)

Everybody's Golf VR recently launched on PlayStation VR, so why not take to the tee with the first Everybody's Golf outing on the PlayStation 4 with--well--Everybody's Golf! Anime avatars playing realistic golf on one of five courses doesn't have a worldwide appeal, but for those that did play a round or two...hundred of Everybody's Golf found an exceptionally well built golf game. Well, I should clarify that it was exceptionally well built with its mechanics and course design. The progression system was an entirely different story, forcing players to play rounds on the same courses over and over again before unlocking new courses to enjoy. Said courses could be traversed entirely, allowing for some fun exploration, as well as some unique mini-games such as fishing. Everybody's Golf isn't the best entry in the golfing series formerly known in North America as Hot Shots Golf, but it surely maintains its high level of quality.

Katamari Damacy - Me & My Katamari (PSP)

Long before the Switch received a remaster of the original Katamari Damacy, the series turned portable with Me & My Katamari on the PSP. This iteration of the game brought the same roll-'em-up gameplay to owners of Sony's handheld, but it also brought a less than satisfactory problem to PSP players--hand cramps. The lack of a second analog nub on the PSP meant that instead of using two sticks to move The Prince's Katamari ball around, players had to use the analog nub in conjunction with the uncomfortable face buttons. This was decidedly a necessary evil to get the game to control with any semblance of competence on the platform, but it ended up making many players of Me & My Katamari dissatisfied. Still, if you can play through the discomfort of the awkward control setup, Me & My Katamari is still the well designed Katamari Damacy gameplay fans have come to expect from the franchise.

No comments: