T. J.’s Ten, Part 2

This is the second instalment of my top 10 list – 7 through 5. These games are from the deepest realms of my heart. I hope you enjoy.

7. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is the Nintendo GameCube’s reincarnation of the series with a slight variation on the traditional recipe. This 2003 release introduced the concept of real-time fighting and also had Game Boy Advance capabilities enabling co-op play. The graphics were beautiful, and the multiplayer design was innovative. Since the release of this game, there have been five more releases under the same title with two sequels, one distant prequel, and two other titles. Exploration is one of the main focuses of the title, which is standard for RPGs, and is done primarily via the lead characters’ caravan.

As with most modern day RPGs, the player may put some degree of personality into their character from the get-go. You are not given a set character to play with and get to choose which race they come from. But to minimise the overall impact this has on the game, the developers made it so every race could use the same physical and magical abilities.

The game takes place in an unnamed land covered in a toxic gas known as Miasma to which direct contact can be costly or even fatal. Towns and settlements are protected from the gas due to their crystals, which generate an impenetrable barrier for the Miasma. The barrier that the crystal provides is not everlasting, and once every year it needs to be restored, which leads to the main premise of the game: yearly brave individuals from each settlement have to go out in search of Myrrh, a liquid substance that powers the crystals.

This is an amazing game within the Final Fantasy series and should be played by all who either love the series or have been looking for the right game to gain their passage into the series. This game holds a special place with me. While it wasn’t the first game in the series, it opened it up to a gameplay style that was right up my street and boosted my love for it. I give this game a rating of 7/10.

6. Pokémon: Fire Red

I chose Fire Red as opposed to traditional Red due to the alterations made from the original. One of the more notable and welcome changes was the feature of running shoes, which made traversing the land of Kanto a more fluid and enjoyable experience. The most notable and obvious change from the original is the graphical upgrade that brought the Kanto we all know and love to a newer generation, making the whole world more vibrant and inviting.

The original was released in Japan for the Game Boy back in 1996, and the re-release came to the Game Boy Advance in 2004. The Fire Red edition of the game introduces a post-game feature so that once you have achieved Pokémon champion status you can continue your progression and find new challenges in another, distant region. This new post-game content is a nod to the Ruby and Sapphire games as the mission you are given is to collect components that make cross-region Pokémon sharing a reality.

This and the original game are dear to me because Red was one of the key games that got me into gaming at the young age of six. At such an impressionable age this game was a game changer. All the subsequent Pokémon games have leap-frogged off Red and Blue‘s success and have set the platform for more sequels and more regions around the Pokémon world. The series has become a gaming staple over the years and many eager gamers await each and every release. I rate this game 9/10.

5. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Wind Waker was a break from the traditional portrayal of Zelda and received mixed reviews upon release. The hardcore fans of the game did not like the graphical style; some people thought it was childish and too cartoon-ish. Some gave it the benefit of the doubt and reserved their critique of the game until after they had played it.

The Wind Waker is set in a world covered mostly by a great ocean. Link’s companion through this game is his boat, the King of Red Lions, who finds Link washed up in the sea not too long into the adventure.

The premise is that Link is in search of his sister who, mistaken as Princess Zelda, was kidnapped by a great bird. Along the way Link gathers his usual array of weaponry, some of which are familiar and some of which are new, but all of which will be of great use during the journey.

You’ll come across new friends, new challenges and an array of new and puzzling dungeons to explore as you rid the land of the evil forces that disrupt a long-held peace.

While at first I agreed with the critics who disliked the changes Wind Waker made to the classic Zelda recipe, I grew to love it and it became one of my top three favorite Zelda titles.

It was later remade for the Wii U with new HD graphics and slightly altered gameplay. The game has held up against the test of time and is still as relevant in today’s world as it was when it first released in 2002. I rate this game 9/10.

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