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Hidden Last-Gen Gems (Part Two)

I've got a real Monkey on my back about people who didn't play this.
You know the drill by now, if you caught the first part of this series. There were a ton of great games released last generation, but some of the best ones didn't get the attention they deserved. As such, I'm taking it upon myself to spread the good word about these awesome games, in hopes that people won't get too lost in the hype of eighth-gen AAA titles and forget to check these out. Without further ado, here's the second part of my top picks for the most unappreciated games of the last generation.

Onechanbara: Bikini Zombie Slayers (2009) 
Steve Tyler after the sex change.
Yep. This game. Statistically speaking, you've never even heard of it, or worse yet, you've heard of the absolute garbage Xbox 360 incarnation, which is one of the most thoroughly unenjoyable games I've ever played. Luckily, this isn't that, but it's still pretty fucking trashy. However, it's trashy in that same way that Peter Jackson's early films, like Dead Alive or Bad Taste, are. As a freshman in high school, this had pretty much everything I wanted in a game, and then some. There was a tasteless amount of blood, purposefully idiotic fan service, and a large amount of replay value. Still, though, it holds up today very well.

The basic premise is very, very scant in terms of substance. You take control of either a girl in lingerie and a cowboy hat, or a school girl, then go out and slice an army of zombies to pieces. Their limbs fly every which way, as blood shoots up in the air in a manner that would put Yellowstone to shame. The more you kill, the more soaked in blood the girls get, which allows them to shed clothes and unleash devastating attacks. Both characters control in entirely different ways, and this variety is aided by even more character unlocks as the game progresses, each with their own unique way of playing.

Having beaten this multiple, multiple times, I can assure you that it's a fun, crass time, with plenty of laughs to be had. Furthermore, it has a pretty killer co-op mode, so you and a buddy or significant other can wile away the afternoon laughing at the bloody debauchery on display. It's not the deepest or best game on this list, but it's still worth a try.

Who Is It For? People with a sense of humor and a strong stomach.

Where Can You Get It? Pretty much anywhere for way under 10 bucks.

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective (2010)
You can prevent the accident, but not being cursed to obscurity, Sissel.
Video game consumers are fucking weird sometimes. The Ace Attorney franchise, one of my personal favorites, has carved out a respectable niche in the gaming world, and most people at least know of its existence. It's a game about collecting evidence, reading, going to court, then doing it all over again. Yet a game by the same dude, where you play as a soul who can possess objects to prevent people from dying in very elaborate, Goldberg-esque ways sells like absolute ass, and most people don't even know it exists. Yep, that's right, I'm talking about Ghost Trick, a fabulous game that I regret not finishing quite yet, yet nonetheless deserves inclusion on this list.

The basic premise is that you're taking control of a dead detective, and in the midst of trying to solve your own murder, you work to unravel a massive conspiracy and prevent the deaths of others. Given that this is by the same folks who brought you Ace Attorney, you can expect a cast of colorful characters and one of the most twisty plots imaginable. While, at the time of this writing, I have not completed this game, I'm well-aware of what occurs later on at the climax, and it is some of the most brilliantly batshit stuff ever put into a video game. Furthermore, it has a brilliant usage of the DS' touch screen, one of the absolute best I've ever experienced, in fact. 

While not being my favorite handheld game on this list, Ghost Trick is still a game very much worth getting, for the sake of how original it is on a conceptual level, and how mind-bending the narrative is. 

Who Is It For? People who like brain-teasing puzzles and clever narratives.

Where Can You Get It? Online, mainly, for somewhere in the range of 15-20 bucks.

House of the Dead: Overkill (2009) 
The sequel to Twins, directed by George Romero.
There are only so many ways the phrase "motherfuck" can be used, and for my money, it has never been done as creatively as in House of the Dead: Overkill. I can recall most of these examples from memory, in fact, because along with my best friend of eight years, I have beaten this game more times than I can even count. To this day, we quote it regularly, and the game sits proudly on my shelf as one that I will never sell. If you're looking for the best arcade shooter experience on the Wii, or on any home console for that matter, look no further than Sega's motherfucking stellar game.

Done in a much more tongue-in-cheek, over-the-top fashion than past entries in the revered House of the Dead franchise, Overkill tells the very B-movie story of Agent G and Isaac Washington, two unlikely partners who team up to take down zombies and stop the nefarious Papa Caeser. However, the narrative is merely an excuse for one of the most profane games to ever be created, as some of the most gut-bustingly hilarious dialogue, which is some of the most unabashedly M-rated in the industry. This is all spliced up with tight, responsive shooting mechanics, and an elaborate upgrade system with plenty of fun weapons to use. It's bloody, it's fun, and it's hilarious.

Also, until Mafia II, it had the most profanity ever used in a video game. So there's that.

Who Is It For? Anybody who isn't easily offended, really; it's a point-and-shoot affair.

Where Can You Get It? Most places have it for around 15-20 bucks.

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (2010)
Just monkeying around.
Look, I'm going to be up front for a second here. I don't like using the word "brilliant" to describe games. Out of all the games on this list, there are only a select few that I would dare to describe as brilliant. To me, something has to push my brain, work in almost every conceivable way, and be all-around unique in order to be even close to being brilliant. That said, Enslaved does all of that, and then some. Easily one of the greatest games I've played, with some of the most endearing characters, pieces of breathtaking scenery, gameplay that managed to fully immerse me, and a narrative that kept me guessing to the very end. It was billed as a AAA title by Namco-Bandai, but without a lot of promotion, most people kind of forgot that it came out.

Which is sad, because this really is an exceptional game in every sense of the word. The narrative, which is a post-apocalyptic, dystopian retelling of the Chinese fable, Journey to the West, is a mind-bending work of art, bolstered by brilliant dialogue, realistic characters, and some of the most jaw-dropping twists and concepts put into any medium. Players will scale overgrown buildings, beat up armies of robots, surf upon water with a hoverboard, and a multitude of other things, and odds are, they'll love every second of it. For all of Ninja Theory's braggadocio as a developer, they almost have a right to it simply because Enslaved is such a wonderful game through-and-through. Not to say that Heavenly Sword and DmC: Devil May Cry aren't great games in their own right, but this one represents everything I love about them as a developer.

If anybody ever asked me to point to games that I thought were "art", Enslaved would be one of the very first.

Who Is It For? People who enjoy good narratives and fun platforming coupled with tight combat.

Where Can You Get It? It's been released twice for the PS3, once for the 360, and Steam for 20 bucks.

Valkyria Chronicles (2008)
I've heard of having a "tank" in an RPG, but this is ridiculous.
If you talk about PS3 exclusives, a lot of titles are going to get brought up. Uncharted, Infamous, Killzone, those David Cage interactive cutscenes... say what you will about Sony's iffy online practices, or the countless firmware updates for the console, but it has one of the greatest collections of exclusives out there. But what most people don't know is that there are far more exclusives than the first-party games. Sadly, most of these games get thrown under the bus due to lack of heavy promotion, as well as distribution that's anything but widespread. A few of these games will get covered in this series, but the first is perhaps the most depressing story of them all. That, ladies and gentleman, is the story of a little game called Valkyria Chronicles.

The story takes place during an alternate world version of WWII, where an oppressive military has begun to take over the entire continent of Europa. Widespread violence and conflict spreads into the neutral nation of Gallia, causing them to take arms against the larger enemy. Taking the role of an inexperienced tank commander, players build a military consisting of a huge cast of unique, diverse characters, and try to win a series of battles without letting any of them die. Because, much like the Fire Emblem series, once a character falls on the battlefield, and cannot be helped by another teammate, they're dead for good. 

With a gameplay system that blends SRPG and real-time action, and a huge chunk of time dedicated to getting to know the unique cast, Valkyria Chronicles is one of the finest tactical role-playing games out there. Sure, some of the characters are a bit cliche, and sometimes the political diatribes can test less patient players, but all-in-all, it's a great experience, especially for those interested in the genre. However, sales for this game were absolute garbage, and the PSP-only sequel didn't help much. In the end, the series has only continued in Japan, with another game, an anime series, and a boatload of other media. Which is a real shame, considering how charming and intricate the game as a whole really is.

Who Is It For? Those who look for a deep, tactical role-playing experience.

Where Can You Get It? You can pick it up at most used game stores, or online vendors, for 20 bucks.

Japanese gangsters, futuristic retellings of Hebrew folk tales, and a noir about a brain in a jar. All this, and more, on Part Three of AFC's Hidden Last-Gen Gems!


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