PushStartPlay’s Gaming Guilty Pleasures
Peer pressure, we’ve all been there. The super cool kids are ripping a piece of electronic entertainment a new one, and all you can do is stand idly by, sheepishly agreeing. But you know, deep inside, whilst their critiques are valid and their scorn is justifiable, you love that stupid game like a brother. Well no more! The PushStartPlay staff are here to stand up for all those video games that we simply can’t get enough of, in spite of their many flaws.
Allan Davison (Editor) – Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale
The JRPG is, at least in my mind, a pretty maligned genre these days, and for good reason. Prone to repeating itself incessantly, the core formula feels somewhat broken. But all that is needed, at least for me, is a change of perspective. Of course, what I’d rather do such a world is… run an item shop?! Yeah, Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale offers what I really want from such a world these days. Essentially Market Trader 101, you buy and sell. And that’s about it. Customers sell you things, customers buy things from you. Prices go up, prices go down. You can do some dungeon crawling if you want, but it’s not where the fun is. Instead, sitting in your quaint, versatile curiosity shop, selling weapons to great warriors and chocolate to little children is the truly addictive part of Recettear, and it tries to be little else. Honestly, I may be missing the guilty part of this genuine pleasure, despite the cloying anime outlook and style held within.
Ben Fox (Editor) – Final Fantasy X
If I was writing this ten years ago, referring to Squaresoft’s swan song as a ‘guilty pleasure’ would have been met with confusion and outrage. Final Fantasy X was, and to a certain extent remains, one of the franchise’s most critically acclaimed titles. Generally, however, retrospection has not been kind to Tidus et al, and these days my love for the game is met with grimaces, disappointment and startlingly well-realised re-enactments of ‘that’ laughter scene. Whilst it is beyond the remit of this passage to vindicate the title comprehensively, I do have a couple of thoughts.
For starters, regardless of what anyone tells you about Cloud and Aeris, X’s love story was more poignantly conceived and written, if – as a result of some pretty terrible voice actors – brutishly executed. Through Tidus’ ‘fish out of water’ perspective, we gained unprecedented and intimate access to the game world and its inhabitants, and through the, admittedly polarising, Sphere Grid, the player was allotted complete freedom of character progression. The battle system remains one of the franchise’s best, relying first and foremost on strategy and not speed of execution, and the score – even Shaun will tell you – stands tall within the pantheon of generally stunning Final Fantasy soundtracks.
Yes, it’s stripped down. Yes, it’s garish. But beneath all that lies a profoundly affecting experience and some of the most fun you can have with a JRPG.
Shaun Greenhaff (Editor) – Zone of the Enders
Choosing a guilty pleasure is no easy task, what with my terrible taste in games and lack of guilt (I openly admit to playing and enjoying Vampire Rain after all), but being forced to choose one I’ve decide to go with Zone of the Enders.
Yes I’m a Metal Gear fanboy, but no I didn’t buy ZoE for the MGS2 demo. If something has mecha I am all up in that stuff, though unfortunately a lot of mech related games tend to edge towards realism a little too much – don’t get me wrong, I still like the slow clunky Gundam games or Mechwarrior etc, but what I always wanted was something a little closer to Evangelion, a game that had giant robots piloted by angst riddled teens that were pulling off crazy melee combat and had a storyline barely followable. Bloody good thing Hideo Kojima likes his giant robots and incoherent plots then. ZoE is a fantastic example of how mech combat can be both weighty but fluid, with the action spinning around the screen in a blaze of colour and glory. Rather than sit on a hill and use heavy weaponry to target far away combatants ZoE gets you airborne with a laser sword to clash against a rival in a fast paced, hectic and frankly exciting one on one duel. So cast away any imaginations that this game was only developed to be a vessel with which to sell a demo of MGS2, and enjoy it as an under-appreciated game that dis mech combat better than anyone at the time (arguably only outdone since by it’s superior sequel). Both ZoE 1 and 2 are currently available in a HD collection for the XBox 360 and Playstation 3, and you really should try them out.
James Steel (Editor in Chief) – Deadly Premonition
Perhaps it was that I’d just watched Twin Peaks for the first time, or that I hadn’t played a Japanese game in years, but there was something quite captivating (if broken) about Deadly Premonition. Polarizing in reviews, this cult hit from overseas was something extraordinarily different, yet had a style that kept me hooked till the end. It’s easy to point at the many gaping holes in regards to the at times shoddy technical aspects of the game, as well as the moment to moment gameplay itself, but if there’s ever been a more perfect case of ‘being more than the sum of its parts’ I certainly haven’t seen it.
From the iconic music themes of Francis York Morgan, to the rather bizarre character development alongside his ‘alter-ego’, I’d often find myself driving the long way to my destination just to hear the conversations that he’d have with himself as you drive through the pretty bland desolate landscape. With the switch into the ‘other world’ reminiscent of Silent Hill (a series I really haven’t played as much as I should have), the combat of a poor man’s Resident Evil 4, and a world inspired from the afore-mentioned TV classic, Deadly Premonition is a game that I often have to defend from people who just see it for what it is on the surface, a pretty shoddy looking game.
Give it a chance, stick with it, and you’ll find a number of great moments, alongside some pretty barmy set piece boss battles and story revelations.
Rhys Evans (Staff Writer) – Godfather II
It was very difficult for me to choose a guilty pleasure. I couldn’t really think of one I should feel guilty about. Then I remembered The Godfather II, one of the first Xbox 360 games I played. Being a big fan of the film series, and after loving the first game on the PlayStation 2, I went out and bought it, despite hearing that it wasn’t a very good game. The rumours were partly true, as the game was damn-near unplayable due to its bugs and glitches. It wasn’t particularly difficult, either. The only time the difficulty really amped up was when you robbed a bank. Despite all this, I loved playing the game. It put an interesting spin on the film’s heavily-acclaimed plot, and its blend between action and strategy gameplay was surprisingly deep for a movie tie-in. The Godfather II may not be able to stand toe-to-toe with the GTA and other similar series, and I don’t actually own a copy of the game anymore, but I wish I still did, because this was a great game that was criminally overlooked by the gaming community.
Ciaran Fallon (Staff Writer) – Driv3r
Back in the summer of 2004, Driv3r (an already pestilent title) exploded on the PS2 and XBOX to an unforgiving array of below-average review scores. Marred with pop-in textures, uninspiring on-foot gameplay and a difficulty spike that could make a Royal Marine breakdown and cry, Driv3r was deemed a pretty massive failure.. And I absolutely loved it.
For everything that wholeheartedly blew about the game, it was undeniably good at making you feel awesome. Tearing around Miami in a ’67 Camaro-alike, pulling off j-turns, smashing into cars and getting into cop chases whilst the series-staple funk music lifted the pace really highlighted what the more-successful GTA, True Crime and The Getaway lacked: feeling like an utter boss.
But the real draw for me was the ‘director mode’. After every mission/free roam session, you could enter a replay editor to direct the cinematography for everything you had done for the past 5-10 minutes. The hours I spent making short films and epic cop chases was enough to fill up an entire PS2 memory card, and the kind of Bullitt-esq brilliance you could create after a few hours work was enough to warrant the RRP of the title.
Mickey Rourke is also in it. (That’s a good thing).
Lauren Gavin (Staff Writer) – Final Fantasy X-2
I’d happily take any arrows, bullets or hate mail for loving this game so much. And that game is Final Fantasy X-2; the first Final Fantasy to get a sequel.
When the game was released I was a happy lady attending university and basically having fun. But it didnt last. I was dumped by my fiancé, lost my home, transferred to a crap uni and had to stay in *shudder* student accommodation. So what got me through on this cold, lonely nights? YRP did! That’s who!
Yuna, Rikku and Paine became close friends when I was feeling down and needed a good old girly pick up. The dress sphere system is one of my favourites and seeing how each costume reflected each girls personality was kickass! Specially Lady Luck and Samurai. Even the soundtrack has become a big fav of mine, JPoP suited the game to a tee.
It was a great RPG for the Yuna and Rikku fanboys, aswell as something cheesy and poppy for the girls. X-2 gave gamers hope that Yuna would be reunited with her true love once again. So this is my guilty pleasure, but one I’m happy to admit.
Agree with us on any of the games we picked, or have ones of your own? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet @PushStartPlay.