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Hidden Last-Gen Gems (Part One)

They're laughing at the people who didn't buy their game. So, statistically speaking, you.
So as I mentioned in my recent article, we are in the midst of the eighth generation of video game consoles. Crazy to think that it was seven years ago I was rabidly excited over playing The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on my shiny new Wii, or busting heads in Virtua Fighter 5 on the PlayStation 3, or "finishing the fight" in Halo 3. Yet here we are, and while it's tempting to make a "best of the last generation list", let's face it, everybody's been doing that since news of the new consoles broke. Instead, it's high time that I take a look back at games nobody gave enough love during the seventh generation. Keep in mind that these are just my picks, and if you have any overlooked gems, be sure to sound off in the comments.

Ready? In no particular order, here's the first part of my picks for the most overlooked seventh-gen games.

Wet (2009)

This can only end well.
Every once in a while, there comes a game that looks poised to be a surefire hit. An all-star cast that includes Eliza Dushku and Malcolm McDowell, gameplay that blends blazing gunplay and brutal swordsmanship, and a pretty solid promotional campaign featuring TV spots on popular cable channels like Spike. So it was without a moments hesitation that I purchased this game, thinking it to be the next "big thing" at the time of its release. Turns out I was pretty alone in that sentiment. Despite the fact that Wet is one of the most gloriously fun homages to grindhouse flicks, with a slick presentation and phenomenal gameplay, the gaming populace seemed to not give two fucks about this game when it was released.

I was left wondering why, when to this day, it's still one of my golden standards when it comes to action games. It's one of the only games that has effectively blended hack n' slash gameplay with third-person shooter mechanics, then throws slow-mo and parkour antics into the blend. The story was incredibly well-done, with protagonist Ruby being one of the most badass female leads in gaming history, and a nice balance of self-aware pastiche and genuine tension. And while it might not have been the most beautiful games on the market, it certainly had some of the most unique set pieces out there, possessing an artistic flare rarely found in this day and age. Add that together with a great soundtrack, and it becomes a mystery how this game was so criminally overlooked.

Who Is It For? People looking for an action game that breaks the mold in terms of presentation and gameplay, and for fans of directors like Quentin Tarantino.

Where Can You Get It? Pretty much anywhere for less than ten bucks.

Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love (2010) 

Yeah, I'm shocked nobody played this either, guys.
Now, I'd heard of the Sakura Wars series years before this game finally released. It wasn't like there was any shortage of its merchandise brought over to the United States, given that the TV series, movie, almost all of the OVA series, most of the manga, and some other stuff got brought over. Yet, for some odd reason, the massively popular series of games that inspired it all never got localized, from the Saturn era all the way up until the original PlayStation 2 release of this entry. Things looked to be turning around for the definitive Sega franchise, though, when NIS announced a localization of this game, which is the fifth entry in the series, but nevertheless a standalone, self-contained story. At least, that's what I thought when the news broke, but reality had other plans in store.

Thanks to terrible marketing (and by that, I mean no marketing) on part of NIS, who seems to have no idea how to promote something that isn't a quirky SRPG or a fan service simulator, Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love sold abysmally. In fact, it sold so poorly that it deterred anybody from touching the PSP ports of 1&2 or any of the other pieces of the series ever since. Which is a shame, because it's one of the best games I've ever played, and probably my favorite title on this entire list. It seamlessly blends social simulator mechanics, tactical mech simulation and real-time battles into one of the best role-playing experiences a player can have. Not to mention the fact that it has a fantastic cast of characters, who have stuck with me ever since I saw the beautiful ending credits of the game. 

If you like role-playing games, and you have a Wii or Wii U (or even a PS2), you owe it to yourself for checking out this game.

Who Is It For? People who enjoy role-playing games, dating sims, and anime fans in general

Where Can You Get It? Almost exclusively online now, for around 15-25 bucks

No More Heroes (2008) 

"Scott Pilgrim Vs The World" definitely didn't ape this at all.
Goichi "Suda51" Suda is a radical video game auteur, giving us a wide variety of games, from the intentionally frustrating adventure game mechanics found in "Flower Sun Rain" to the candy-coated bombast of "Lollipop Chainsaw." But up until recently, none of his mostly awesome games have sold particularly well, and unfortunately, the first outing of deranged yet deeply sympathetic antihero Travis Touchdown falls outside of that span of time. Despite some initial shaky reviews, word of mouth led me into picking this up at launch, and what followed was an unforgettable gaming experience that everybody should have at least once... that is, unless you're easily offended.

No More Heroes follows aforementioned protagonist as he attempts to dispatch some of the top assassins in the world, his only motivating factor to get in the pants of mysterious blond bombshell Sylvia Crystal. Aside from brutally hacking and slashing their way through hundreds of armed thugs, players will go up against an eclectic cast of villains, such as a country singer with a lethal revolver, a homeless lady armed with a deadly laser cannon, and a girl in a pink tutu who cracks the skulls of her BDSM slaves who come whizzing down on a conveyor belt. Yeah, that actually happens. This game was batshit insane, with the best hack n' slash gameplay this side of Devil May Cry and some truly unique visuals that played to the Wii's advantages. 

Ultimately, not very many people bought it, especially in Japan, and in the West, it was doomed to the bargain bin, and eventually in a double pack with the absolutely shitty Red Steel. A real shame, considering it's one of my personal faves. Luckily, the sequel and HD re-release fared a little bit better, but not by much, and in the end, it's still more of a cult gem than anything else.

Who Is It For? People looking for visceral, violent fun, and seriously demented dark humor.

Where Can You Get It? You can pick it up most places for less than ten bucks, for the Wii and PS3. The sequel's a Wii-exclusive, though, and the PS3 version isn't really worth it.

Bayonetta (2010)

She fights like a girl, and she's damn proud of it.
This might be a bit of a controversial choice, considering that Bayonetta 2 is one of the most hotly anticipated Wii U exclusives at the moment. But taking a look at the sales for this game, and a look of general bewilderment to the average bear when it this game gets brought up, it's pretty clear that this game was not paid nearly as much attention to it as it deserved. Despite what Anita Sarkeesian might have you believe, Platinum's beautiful brawler is a glorious subversion of what most gamers expect from women in video games, presenting us with a sexually confident, strong-willed female protagonist that will stop at nothing to uncover the truth to her mysterious past. Even if that means turning her hair, which also happens to comprise her clothing, into a giant high heel in order to stop on foes. Yep.

Played on delivery back on launch day, I became instantly enchanted in the ridiculous world of Bayonetta. A tribute to glorious excess, the pop music-fueled visual feast is a combo-heavy brawler that punishes players who attempt to blindly button-mash, and rewards those who take the time to learn the intricate mechanics required of them. The more you learn, the more fun it becomes to kill angels, fight the titular protagonist's longtime rival, and eventually attempt to kill God. It's a brutally difficult but satisfying experience with breathtaking visuals that constantly surprise, with a zany story that keeps players guessing until the very end and a cast of lovable characters that are unlike anything out there. 

Criminally overlooked by the gaming populace, Bayonetta one of those special games that defined the seventh generation for me.

Who Is It For? People who are incredibly patient and love a nice challenge.

Where Can You Get It? Anywhere for under 10 bucks; there's an excess of unsold copies, really.

Silent Hill: Downpour (2012) 

"Hm, wonder what that creaking is... Probably nothing."
It was hard to choose between this and Shattered Memories for which of the seventh generation Silent Hill games, excluding the fairly tepid Homecoming, to put on this list. Ultimately, though, this one undersold drastic amounts when held in comparison to the other entries, and it was mainly thanks to the fact that Konami, as of late, seems to be run by incompetent apes who can't properly promote their fucking properties worth a damn. Which is a crying shame, because Downpour is a fantastic experience which manages to shock players until one of the eight endings, with a story that's relentlessly dark and dreary, accompanies by visuals and an amazing score to boot. Players are put in the shoes of escaped convict Murphy Pendleton, given weapons that constantly break, and are essentially told to fight for their lives in a town that seems hellbent on killing them.

This bloody saga of revenge and redemption is one of the few games in recent memory that managed to truly terrify me. The developers took everything I expected from the franchise and turned it on its head, with frightening new enemies and a plot that's far murkier and grim than anything since you found out how much of a royal douche James Sunderland was during the climax of Silent Hill 2. Not only that, but the gameplay was pretty solid as well, if somewhat flawed; despite some weird hit detection and an unnecessary combo system, the addiction of breakable weapons made the whole experience feel more urgent than previous entries. Despite being a bit glitchy and unpolished, Downpour was still a great game, and one that more people should have really picked up.

But hey, how could they have, considering Konami barely advertised it worth a shit?

Who Is It For? People who are jaded about modern horror games. 

Where Can You Get It? It's widely available in most retailers and online for under 20 bucks.

What do tank battles, a Chinese fairy tale and putting signposts through peoples' heads have in common? They're all in games featured in the next batch of AFC's Hidden Last-Gen Gems, coming this week! See you then, same opinionated time, same opinionated place!


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