Posted by : Starships and Dragons Friday, July 25, 2014

With franchises like the Legend of Zelda, Mass Effect, and Call of Duty making the headlines, there are many games that are ignored or overlooked entirely. So I want to call to attention some fantasy and sci-fi related video games games that weren't seen, but still deserve some recognition.

Keep in mind that this list is in no particular order, and some of them (actually, a lot of them) aren't for everybody, but they are games I've enjoyed, so I am personally biased towards them. This is particularly obvious when you realize the majority of the list are JRPGs. So without further ado, let's begin.

1. Rune Factory Series


Systems: DS, 3DS, Wii, PS3

Play if: You enjoy the Harvest Moon series or want a simulation game where you can also fight monsters.

Rune Factory is a spin-off of the moderately successful Harvest Moon franchise, where you play as a farmer working towards some goal (usually saving the town that you're living in). However, you are instead placed into a fantasy universe, and the usual system of purchasing animals is replaced with taming monsters. There are many colorful characters and races, including a wealthy human girl that speaks in opposites, a Univir (a horned species that resembles elves) elder woman who hates humans, a half-elf boy that that also hates humans, a female butler who tends to fall asleep, and a pair of girls who look like each other with the same name and are sort of vampires.
She actually likes you. Really.

Just like in Harvest Moon, you can farm, interact with the villagers in your town, and eventually marry. All installments feature a male protagonists, but only recently can you play as a female and woo the guy of your dreams (there is a slight exception in Rune Factory 2, but it doesn't really count). You may then have a child, though they tend not to have a big role (Again, there is an exception with Rune Factory 2).

I personally recommend Rune Factory 2 on the DS. It's my favorite installment in the series. However, if you want something a little more recent, you should play Rune Factory 4. The characters are interesting, and the story line is pretty good.

2. Zero Escape Series


Systems: DS, 3DS, PS Vita

Play if: You enjoy somewhat difficult puzzle games, visual novels, plot twists, and being under a form of stress.

The Zero Escape series has been praised wildly for its plot, and it's not hard to see why. In the first installment, 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, you play a college student named Junpei who is kidnapped and placed on a slowly sinking ship with 8 other people, and will have to play the 'Nonary Game' and work with them to find a door labelled 9 in nine hours to escape and live. The second game, Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward, starts similarly, where a college student named Sigma is kidnapped and placed in an elevator with a woman named Phi. They escape and find 7 other people, and they are all forced to play the 'Nonary Game: Ambidex Edition'.

In both games, you are equipped with bracelets. In the first game, they allow you to know which characters can enter which door. In the second, reaching nine 'Bracelet Points' allows you to escape. While both games do not immediately appear to have any unnatural phenomena, it becomes clear, at least near the end, what is really going on. The games are addicting, and both feature different endings based on the player's decision, so they have replayable value. It requires you to think, but you'll feel satisfied when you solve the problems. All in all, it's an enjoyable series that'll make you want to play both of them.

3. Weapon Shop de Omasse


Systems: 3DS

Play if: You want to play a JRPG-referencing, self-aware game, or have a quirky sense of humor and have time to spend.

Depending on who you are, you'll either love Weapon Shop de Omasse or you'll think that it's just not fun. And it's understandable why. You play a blacksmith forging the weapons of the heroic figures who will be taking on the quests to defeat the Evil Lord.

This game was delayed for a long time due to dialogue translation. de Omasse is text heavy, and although it's a rhythm game, there is much more to do than tap your screen to shape metal. You have to familiarize yourself with your customers to make their perfect weapon, and you can check on their progress while they're out adventuring through an in-game version of Twitter.

As Destructoid has described it, de Omasse is 'a niche within a niche'. The game is definitely unusual, in its dialogue and gameplay. Some may find the humor lacking and the work tedious. The music isn't all that great. But it is certainly a game that will charm at least a target group of gamers. If this sounded a little bit intriguing, then you should try it.

4. The Last Remnant


Systems: Xbox 360, PC (retail and Steam)

Play if: you like turn-based battle systems, have generally good luck and a PC, or want to see a new fantasy world.

In all honesty, The Last Remnant isn't terribly good. You control Rush Sykes, who is trying to find his little sister Irina, and meet several characters who decide to help him.

The visual style is very unique and beautiful, and is one of the game's best points. The fantasy world that Last Remnant takes place is extremely distinct from any other, and it's enhanced by a beautiful soundtrack. Battles feature a turn-based system with unions, groups of 3-5 people led by a general. However, much of it is based entirely on luck; even with high levels, you may not survive some encounters due to chance. The PC version is apparently a vast improvement on the Xbox version, although I've never seen the Xbox version.


There are many things wrong with The Last Remnant that can't be overlooked. It's a little clunky, there are slow loading times, and screens are a cluttered mess. The battle system is fun, but after a while it gets repetitive and annoying; who knows how many times I've restarted because of my bad luck. Even so, for its price (it's $10 USD on Steam), The Last Remnant is something you should possibly consider.

5. Eternal Sonata


Systems: Xbox 360, PS3

Play if: You like classical music, want to try a different battle system, or just want to try out a new RPG.

Eternal Sonata is one of those games that is beautifully strange. The game takes place in the mind of Frédéric Chopin, who is lying on his deathbed, where he envisions a fantastical world influenced by his life. In it, he meets a sick young girl named Polka. The two travel together and meet many people and uncover a great conspiracy.

This game legitimately made me cry. It is absolutely beautiful and stunning. Along with an astounding soundtrack (which includes several compositions of Chopin), the voice acting is wonderful and the graphics are quite pretty. The battle system changes every time you go into battle; it is turn-based, including 3 members with each character's turn starting with 'Tactical Time' to decide what to do, and ending with an amount of time for the character to complete their actions.

My only problems with Eternal Sonata lie with its duration. Not only is it short, but the game is extremely linear, even painfully so for a JRPG. Still, this game is still one I highly recommend you check out. It is just beautiful.

6. Contact


Systems: DS

Play if: Like karma systems, games that break the fourth wall, and like weird space dogs (shh, he thinks he's a cat)

Despite few copies being sold, Contact may legitimately touch you, as it did me. In it, a scientist only known as the Professor is fleeing from a mysterious terrorist group known as CosmoNOTS (Cosmic Nihilist Organization for Terror). He lands next to Terry, a young teenage boy sleeping on a bench, skipping school, and has him run quickly inside his spaceship. They land on an unknown planet, losing the ship's 'cells', gem-like objects that act as a power source, and Terry agrees to help the Professor collect them while exploring the planet; the thing is... He isn't helping him. You are.

Most the game's main characters, sans Terry, are aware of your existence. The Professor directly breaks the fourth wall to communicate with the player, understanding you are helping by playing a game. The gameplay is split into two screens; the bottom screen is the player controlling Terry and continuing through the game, while the top screen show the Professor in his lab, who gives advice and funny, offhand comments that sometimes references other video games. The Professor will invent decals that can assist the player in attacking, healing, etc. Costumes can also be found that will give Terry special powers (cooking, lockpicking, etc.). Battle mode can be switched into, and is played real time. Terry has different stats, including some that can determine how NPCs react to him.

This game first came out when I was in the middle of elementary school, and it legitimately put me in awe. The battle system is nice, and I spent hours completely all the sidequests and getting as many weapons as I could. The dialogue was witty, even though there are several grammatical errors. I liked collecting all of the 'girlfriends', meeting new NPCs (My favorite is Nadia), discovering new lands; there's so much to experience. Of course, there are annoyances and flaws. The battle system can be hard and repetitive, and the game sometimes doesn't tell you what to do (I literally spent about two hours beating a boss before the Professor told me how to make it easier, and that's my most recent playthrough). Terry's hair always bothered me, because it's brown in-game while it's really black. I suggest you to play it, even if it's older.

7. Risk of Rain


Systems: PC, PS Vita (Upcoming)

Play if: You work well under pressure, and enjoy side scrolling platformers.

Funded by Kickstarter and created by two university students, Risk of Rain is an action platformer shooter where the player is a survivor of a space train crash on a mysterious planet. The game is unique as the difficulty escalates as time goes on, giving a sense of urgency and pressure.

The game is almost entirely randomized, from the map to the spawn location to even the location of the bosses. Risk of Rain is extremely difficult, and it's impossible not to die several times before you get the hang of it. There are ten characters with different skills and benefits to them to help the player along. Also, there are over 100 items that have different effects, and all of them are beneficial.

This game was originally not on my list, but was suggested by the president of this club. It was, he said, "F***ing hard." And it's true. You will absolutely die. But that does not mean it isn't fun. Its rogue-like elements are great, and its old-school style is charming. It's fun and absolutely worth all the time you may put into it.

8. Costume Quest


Systems: PC, Linux, Xbox Live Arcade, iOS, PS3

Play if: You want something short, easy, and cute

Originally released around Halloween, Costume Quest is a quirky yet simplistic game. You play one of two fraternal twins (it's your choice who you want to play as) on Halloween, saving their sibling when they're kidnapped by a monster while trick-or-treating.

During battle, the character's costume transform into larger versions to fight. The system itself is turn-based. Like in a typical RPG, you can collect more party members and complete quests. However, it's very simplistic and easy, and can be treated like a childish RPG. The characters are nice and the story is interesting enough.

There are a few flaws, obviously. It can get very repetitive, and there's really no difficulty in playing it. Any really serious RPGers can pay it no mind. The music is a bit forgettable. The biggest flaw in Costume Quest is its length; it is extremely short, and the main game can be played in a few hours. Even so, the game is interesting enough. It can be played at all ages, so I especially recommend it to children.

9. Trace Memory/Another Code: Two Memories


Systems: DS

Play if: You want an interesting, old adventure without a lot of thought.

Cing was one of my favorite video game developers for the DS; unfortunately, they filed for bankruptcy a few years back. Trace Memory, as this game was known in North America, was the first game I played that was made by them. In it, you play young Ashley Mizuki Robbins, who goes to Blood Edward Island in search of her father, Richard. He was presumed dead when she was a baby, along with her mother, Sayoko.

Ashley is given a DAS, an obvious spoof of the DS (it even looks like the original DS), which only reacts to her. It acts as the game's menu, and can be used to take pictures. They also read DAS cards, which contain information about the plot and the island, On the island, she meets a ghost named D, who has lost his memories. Trace Memory is a point-and-click adventure game. The camera during movement is kept in an aerial view. The touch screen is mainly used. Puzzles are scattered throughout the game, and must be solved to progress. Most use DS capabilities, like the microphone and touch screen.

Trace Memory was one of the games my older sister would not let me play until 3 years after we got it. At the time, puzzles were quite difficult. However, I have now realized that they are actually quite easy. I can now finish the game in a few hours without much trouble. It has almost become tedious to play, and there is little replay value after you finish playing the game. Even so, it still is a fun experience, and the plot is very interesting with an intriguing vibe. If you don't mind playing something a bit older, I definitely suggest you play this.

Games are an engaging experience that many people experience. I hope you will want to try one of these games, too.

Until another time, Angela

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