Retro Gaming 00’s- Assassin’s Creed II: (2009)

When we think about some of the best action-adventure games to have been released during the 00’s decade one of the few titles that many people instantly think about is Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed II from 2009. Assassin’s Creed II was the highly anticipated sequel of its predecessor from 2007 which appeared on multiple game game systems such as Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Windows between November 2009 and March 2010. One of the most interesting things about Assassin’s Creed II was how the storyline for the game had included various historical figures such Niccolò Machiavelli, Leonardo Da Vinci, Bartolomeo d’ Alviano, Pope Alexander VI and others while the setting took place during the late 15th-early 16th century time period. The main protagonist Ezio Auditore has a rather dark but interesting backstory when players learn that his family had been brutally executed during the conflict involving the Assassins and the Knights Templar during the Renaissance era in Italy. The events surrounding Ezio Auditore is framed in the 21st century by a descendant within his bloodline named Desmond Miles which contributes to overall quality of the storytelling aspect of Assassin’s Creed II.

In this game players start out as Desmond who is eventually taught assassin skills by an undercover assassin named Lucy Stillman through a technique known as the “Bleeding Effect”. Shortly, afterwards Desmond learns more about his ancestor’s past when he discovers Ezio’s goal to retrieve information regarding the pieces of Eden. During Ezio’s journey players eventually cross path with the main antagonist Rodrigo Borgia who possessed one of the pieces of Eden while eventually becoming Pope Alexander VI. While Ezio eventually takes a piece of Eden from Borgia its eventually discovered that his father and brother were both condemned to death by hanging for treason by a despotic magistrate within Italy. Fueled by vengeance Ezio wanted to use his combat/stealth abilities to destroy every individual who was involved in his father’s death despite their occupation. His quest to destroy his father’s murderers is meet with aid as he trains with ancient order Assassin members who assist him along his quest. Throughout, the game players engage in various missions accompanied with non-linear gameplay and world maps that feature historical locations within Italy such as Florence, Venice, Forlì and others.

The addition of new in game mechanics such as swimming and “Eagle Vision” were features that many people found appealing comparison to the original Assassin’s Creed title from ’07. The ability to hire skilled non-playable characters from thieves all the way down to mercenaries to battle adversarial forces was also a plus; because it gave players more independence to develop creative strategies in order to complete certain parts of the game. There was also more realism added to the game with the introduction of a day/night cycle and a more robust yet effective combat system especially when it came down to countering the attacks of enemies. Along with impressive storytelling full of twists and turns, ancient landmarks, historical characters from the Renaissance era of Italy the visuals for Assassin’s Creed II was amazing back in ’09 thanks to the AnvilNext game engine.

Since its release back in November 2009 Assassin’s Creed II had received three downloadable expansion packs which kept players interested in the game before the release of Assassin’s Creed III in 2012. As far overall success in relation to sales it was reported that Assassin’s Creed II has reportedly sold over 1.6 million within its first week which was a pretty big deal at the time. In fact, Assassin’s Creed II is arguably the best installment within the series despite the fact that it was released a decade ago. The story for Assassin’s Creed II felt somewhat similar to Dishonored from 2012 in the sense where the story emphasizes corruption among authority figures and is accompanied with a dark and tragic backstory leading the main protagonists to align themselves with resistant rebels forces who end up becoming avengers. As a action-adventure stealth from the 00’s Assassin’s Creed II was quite the best video game from that 00’s decade and its a title that some might still enjoy on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One to this day.

Retro Gaming 90’s- Suikoden II: (1998)

As far as older RPG titles from the late 90’s are concerned there are various titles that instantly comes to mind to many people who were gamers during that time period. Final Fantasy VII & Final Fantasy VIII which were released between ’97-’99 by Square Enix were classics that arguably overshadowed just every other RPG that appeared on the original PlayStation console back then. While the two Final Fantasy titles that we got to see in the late 90’s were best-sellers for the PS1 game system there were also some memorable gems that were overshadowed on that console as well. There were titles such as Chrono Cross, Xenogears, Star Ocean: The Second Story, Grandia and others that were all concerned to be memorable classics that were critically acclaimed. In addition, to those games Suikoden II was also considered to be top tier RPG from the late 90’s despite its sales. As far as quality was concerned Suikoden II had optimal quality in relation to 2D graphics which ironically may have affected the game’s overall sales following its initial Japanese release in December 1998. When it came down to PS1 games in relation to the mid to late 90’s more people were interested in 3D graphics while 2D gaming was seen as obsolete between ’97-’99.

However, Suikoden II was still a worth successor to its ’95 predecessor which was also developed and published by Konami and released during during that later part of that year. Not only does the plot for Suikoden II follow the events from the first game but also places emphasis on the continuous war between two nations known as Jowston and the Kingdom Of Highland despite the mutual peace agreement between both sides. The main antagonist Prince Luca who obsessed with destroying Jowston orchestrates a massacre on the city-state before him and his force return home with the main protagonist known as Riou and his ally Jowy escaping in the process. After being condemned by Highland for their treachery they both find themselves with two halves of the Rune Of The Beginning which bounds by Riou and Jowy together.

As players progress throughout the game as Riou they eventually are betrayed by Jowey who becomes a top official within the Kingdom Of Highland. While many players may have been upset with Jowy’s betray it made the story somewhat more interesting than the one from the original Suikoden game. In fact, many people agree that Suikoden II is quite possibly the best installment within the series despite the fact that it was released during a time where the popularity 2D RPG’s had briefly declined. If the Suikoden series had started sometime between ’90-’91 opposed to 1995 and it appeared on the Super NES it could have easily been way more popular than it was by the time released in America. Suikoden II was without a doubt one of the best JRPG games that Konami had produced during the 90’s. Sometimes its hard to believe that Suikoden II is over 20 years old; while are expecting a new installment within the series retro gamers would probably prefer seeing this RPG classic ported to current generation game console.

Retro Gaming 90’s- Suikoden: (1995)

When we talk about old school RPG’s which appeared on the PS1 that are considered to be classics from the 90’s there are many titles that comes to mind including the original Suikoden title. For those who do not know Suikoden was initially released in Japan in December ’95 before appearing in America a year in late ’96. The original Suikoden title eventually appeared on Sega Saturn in ’98 but remained as a Japanese exclusive since that console was not as popular as the PS1. Suikoden was arguably one of the best JRPG’s Konami has ever made in relation to the 90’s and this was a time period where the world saw many high profile 2D titles within the RPG genre. Square Enix had Final Fantasy IV-VI Sega had the Phantasy Star and the Shining series while Capcom had Breath Of Fire. Suikoden has well detailed 2D graphics and a compelling storyline that would easily capture the interest of players. The plot for the game revolves around the main character who is the son of a top general from the Scarlett Moon Empire name Teo McDohl. Throughout, the game players see the unnamed protagonist learn the truth about the Scarlett Moon Empire in relation to corruption among the top officials while starting their career within Imperial Army.

One of the main themes that Suikoden emphasizes is rebellion since the hero joins forces with other characters such as Viktor who was apart of an organization that are also against the corrupt Scarlett Moon Empire. After being enlisted within the Liberation Army by its leader Odessa Silverberg players can recruit over 100 different characters/warriors to support the hero’s cause in relation to combating the Scarlett Moon Empire. The gameplay follows a traditional RPG format in relation to battles where players can have up to six characters in a party during battles. The Runes magic system was unique especially since certain circumstances and conditions would determine what type attacks & spells players could utilize. The battle system in Suikoden was robust especially considering the fact that players could either engage in one on one duels versus war battles were the commands for each are different.

Some might argue that Suikoden was game that was ahead of its time and arguably better some 2D Final Fantasy games from the early 90’s despite not being quite as popular as FF VI-IV. If Suikoden was released for the Super NES back in ’95 some could argue that the game would stood out more than it did for the PS1. However, the Super NES was starting to get old in ’95 and more gamers from Japan and America started to become more interested in the 32-bit PS1 console since it was more superior in quality. Either way, Suikoden is still considered to be a legendary JRPG which has been around for approximately 24 years now and has spawned a series of direct sequels up until 2006.

Retro Gaming 90’s- WCW Nitro: (1998)

As far as pro wrestling is concerned in relation to the 90’s WCW Nitro was one of the most popular television shows of that time period along the likes of Monday Night Raw. As far as ratings were concerned WCW Nitro was many people who were fans of pro wrestling between 1997-1999 were on the edge of their seats during the Monday Night Wars. Between ’97-’99 Monday Nitro was considered to be very popular especially after the formation of the nWo in July 1996 consisting of Hollywood Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. As the nWo stable became more popular ratings started to skyrocket on WCW Monday Nitro which was broadcasted on TNT during late 90’s. As far as viewership is concerned many people would argue that 1997-1998 was the best years that WCW had. For a majority of ’98 WCW Monday Nitro had higher ratings than WWF Raw Is War up until around November of that year.

The WCW Nitro video game was pretty cool despite not being quite as popular as WCW/nWo Revenge for the Nintendo 64. WCW Nitro had a stacked all-star roster with big names such Hollywood Hogan, Ric Flair, Sting, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Bret Hart, Scott Hall, Diamond Dallas Page, Lex Luger, The Giant, Eddy Guerrero and many others. The inclusion of game modes such as single player tournament and a versus mode were features that people liked along with the fact that each character had their own move set. The ability to unlock secret characters by utilizing cheat codes or playing through tournament mode was also added to its replay value despite the not having entrances for any of the wrestlers. The characters rants from the top wrestlers in the game were also quite entertaining possibly even more than the WCW/nWo Thunder game which came out for the PS1 and the N64 in 1999. When it came down to pro-wrestling games in general THQ had produced many memorable titles and some would definitely argue that WCW Nitro was one of them.

Final Fantasy VIII: Remastered announced at E3 2019!!!

At last the world will finally see the JRPG classic from 1999 known Final Fantasy VIII remastered and released for multiple game consoles in the future. As many people know Final Fantasy VIII was released 20 years ago for the PS1 and was the direct sequel to the legendary FFVII game which was released in 1997. While Final Fantasy VIII May not have been quite as popular as its predecessor it still managed to sell at least seven million copies worldwide on the PS1. In fact, Final Fantasy VIII is actually within the top ten in relation to the best selling video games for the PS1. When Square Enix made an announcement about Final Fantasy VIII: Remastered for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and the Switch many people seemed ecstatic by the news at their E3 conference.

As it currently stands we know of a few features that Final Fantasy VIII: Remastered will include. We are aware of the fact that the remastered version of FFVIII will run cutscenes at least three times faster than that if the PS1 version. There is also improved gameplay which allows players to keep their ATB and HP maximum can perform special attacks at anytime. In addition, the option of turning off random battle encounters in the remastered version of FFVIII is also a feature that will make it stand from the original ’99 version of the game. As it currently stands Final Fantasy VIII: Remastered is expected to appear on the PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC sometime later in 2019.

Trials Of Mana Coming to the PS4, Switch and PC in early 2020!!!!

As fas as blockbuster announcements are concerned in relation to Nintendo Switch the reveal trailer for the Trials Of Mana is something that everyone is talking about. The Trials Of Mana is a high definition remake of a JRPG classic known as Seiken Densetsu 3 which appeared exclusively in Japan for the SNES back in 1995. Since its release back in the mid 90’s Seiken Densetsu 3 was never released in America mainly due to how popular 3D gaming was starting to become during that era. Even though, the 2D version of Seiken Densetsu 3 was ported for the Nintendo Switch back in 2017 it was available exclusively in Japan before appearing America in the Collection Of Mana on June 11th this year. Seiken Densetsu 3 is a game that includes multiple characters with their own storylines & endings and is considered to be one of the most underrated Action-RPG’s for the SNES.

There are many people who question how successful Trials Of Mana will be in the future especially after the release Secret Of Mana HD in 2018. The Secret Of Mana HD was a game that was solid but at the same time did not live up to many people’s expectations because it felt somewhat different from the original 16-bit version of the game. Hopefully, Trials Of Mana will not have that same issue especially since Seiken Densetsu 3 was never officially released in American retail stores in the past. As it currently stands Trials Of Mana is expected to appear on the PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC in early 2020 and will be among the few RPG’s that Square Enix will have to offer better the second half of 2019 & 2020.

Will Google Stadia & Apple Arcade dramatically effect the sales of the PlayStation 5?

As far as the gaming world is concerned the Fall of 2019 looks very promising especially considering the fact that competition is starting to grow between different companies. Since the early 00’s Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have been seen as the top entities within the gaming world and that has also been the case during the 10’s decade. However, the changing landscape within the gaming world is likely to create a significant change especially streaming and downloading video games have become more popular throughout the 10’s decade. In fact, services such as Google Stadia along with Apple Arcade is starting to make people reconsider the idea of purchasing a game console altogether since its more expensive in the long run. In fact, the concept of producing physical games in the forms of CD’s or cartridges seems obsolete at this point which makes people wonder how it’s going to effect the sales of consoles like the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and the upcoming PlayStation 5 console which is expected to be released sometime between 2020-2021.

While the PlayStation 5 has been said to be backwards with older generation PS4 games it has been implied following the Game Developers Conference back in March 2019 that the Google Stadia service might be more cost-effective than buying video game consoles. While Google Stadia has been often referred to as the the next Netflix of gaming Apple Arcade is a subscription service that allows people to enjoy hundreds of exclusive video games that will not be available on any other game system. As far as what type of effect both services while have on Sony’s PS5 in relation to its success or lack of is something that remains to be seen. However, considering the fact that Microsoft & Sony have recently formed a partnership for shared activities involving cloud gaming services in response to the emergence Google Stadia is one that interesting. The console wars has definitely taken an interesting turn to say the least especially since things are likely to become more unpredictable within the couple of years.