Ask the Kliq #7
Every once in a while, you will think about video games and then ask yourself a question that has no rhyme or reason, but that just happened to pop in your head at that exact moment. In some rare instances, not even Google or Wikipedia can provide the answer you need. Sometimes you wouldn’t even need an answer to that question.
This is where we come in.
Our panel of experts is here to take on all of your video games-related questions, no matter how serious or silly they may be. With each new edition, we will submit a question to this elite committee, which will in turn try to provide you, our beloved readers, with the most accurate answer they can come up with.
Do you have a question for us? Shoot us an e-mail at kapoutman AT hotmail.com with the subject line “Ask the Kliq”, or leave a comment below. The best questions will be featured in an upcoming column.
This Week’s Question
After a couple of weeks of questions relating to the news, we now have a practical question. It comes from a man who simply wants to be known as “Dan” (I bet it’s not even his real name). I’ll let him ask his question in his own words:
“I have been trying to build a collection of games that would make my friends jealous as soon as they step into my home and see the shelves filled with memories from another era. I have discovered that Playstation games (the first one) sell for cheap in pawn shops. What are your suggestions for a rare but fun PS game that I absolutely need to add to my collection? I already have all the classics like Metal Gear and Twisted Metal, so I would like something I would be playing for the first time.”
It’s pretty clear cut as a question, but let me say it again so I can underline it and make the format of this column fit with the other ones:
What are your suggestions for classic Playstation games that are fun but rare?
Christopher Bowen: If there’s one thing the Playstation excelled in, it’s having games that have become rare collector’s gems while also being good games.
For most of these titles, this seemed accidental; Sony had to basically beaten into allowing 2D gaming. Strangely enough, a lot of these are 2D based.
I’ll make a short list, as well as an estimate EBay price listing that one can expect, taken by looking at bids today. These are only for NSTC games:
* Grandia, $35. This is a bargain if you like JRPGs.
* Herc’s Adventure, $40 (underrated game, a good addition)
* Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete + Lunar: Eternal Blue Complete (with extras such as Omake boxes, standees, cloth maps, hard-cover book, etc., aboout $60-65, and there’s an $80 Buy It Now for SSSC as of the 26th.
* Suikoden II, $150; Suikoden 1 is a virtual prerequisite to play this, but there’s a $6 downloadable version on the PSN store if you have a PS3 or PSP.
* Persona 1 + 2, $100 each (fair warning, Persona 1 had some serious localization issues)
* Einhander, $65
* Arc the Lad Collection (complete), $80
* Ogre Battle, $75 on a brilliant Buy It Now that I might suck up by the time this goes live; if I or one of the other sneaky bastards I write with get it first, then raise that to about $80.
If you’re a stickler for black label games (instead of Greatest Hits), then there’s also Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Final Fantasy VII, though your mileage with FFVII will vary. There’s also the matter of imports, if you want to get really exotic and have a modded system.
Ashe Collins: While my list may not be rare, it’s what I consider ‘must-have’ for any PS1 owner. Most of these were not hard to get when I did pick them up but I imagine a few of them will be spectacularly hard to grab now.
Vagrant Story – Panned and adored, this was one of the last titles to hit the PlayStation before the PS2 thundered out of the gates. It’s a different type of RPG with no store to buy gear and you have to craft yourself. Set in the same game world as Final Fantasy Tactics, the world feels a bit different than other SquareEnix (Squaresoft at the time) offerings at the time. It’s also very well done visually and really pushed the PlayStation to its limits.
Valkyrie Profile – Arguably one of the better RPGs on the PlayStation, this one will be hard to find and the price hasn’t dropped for it since it got a revamp for the PSP either. It has a unique side-scrolling engine to it and the artwork is still fantastic.
Lunar Silver Star Story – Another one of the greats. My wife and I have both but I prefer the first game. If you can find it with all the swag that came in the box set all the better. It’s a fun 2D rpg that looks fantastic and is a blast to play.
Final Fantasy VII – I’m probably going to catch hell for this one, but it’s one of the innovators on the PlayStation. It moved Square away from the 2D RPG and put them firmly in the 3D world. If you can get around all the extra retcons that have been tacked on since, it does have a decent story and for the time was visually stunning.
Parasite Eve – A horror RPG with customizable weapons and fantastic visuals that still make you go ‘Ew gross!’ to this day? Sign me up! This is one of those one that we played and played. Love it.
Silent Hill – Yes this monster of survival horror got its start on the PlayStation right along with Resident Evil. It’s not nearly as… pretty or polished (do those words even work with Silent Hill?) as the sequels, but it’s got a fantastic story and that siren going off for the first time still gives me chills. Let’s not forget an eerily fantastic soundtrack.
Resident Evil Director’s Cut – Speaking of the big RE, this one is also a must have. Although I prefer Code Veronica, it’s not on the PlayStation and the first game is. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the Director’s Cut had more oomph to me than the original.
Spyro the Dragon – Sure it may seem a bit kiddy, but this game was made when Spyro was actually a decently crafted game. I logged many hours playing as the little dragon and still pull this one out to play on my PS2 from time to time.
Street Fight Alpha 3 – One of the better arcade to game console conversions out there. Visually fantastic and plays great, well for a 2D fighter on the PlayStation anyway. Absolutely loved this one.
Alex Lucard: I have to admit, this question pisses the shit out of me off. Why the hell would you get a game just because it is rare? Why would your friends be jealous because you own a game they don’t? That’s called “Hordecore gaming” where you have titles for name value rather than playing value. There’s no point to owning a game unless you plan on playing it over and over again or have some very special memories attached to it. Owning a game for the sake of owning a game neither makes your dick size bigger nor your overall status appear cooler. If anything, if makes you look like a fucking lame poseur.
“Oh I own the Japanese version of Persona: Be Your True Mind because it has the Snow Queen Quest.”
Well have you played it?
“Do you even know how to read or speak Japanese?”
Then WHAT THE FUCK IS THE POINT.
Every game I have ever imported is because I really wanted to experience the game, not because I thought it would impress people that I owned it. Hell, I’ve imported games that I knew would be bad simply because I had reason to – like Vampire Hunter D or one of several light gun games. I’ve also imported classic jewels that I knew would never be released stateside like Segagaga, Sakura Taisen Perfect Collection and Touken Retsuden 4.
Honestly, rarity of a game shouldn’t enter into it – not for a second. it’s the quality of the game, the enjoyment you get from beating it and the knowledge that you’ll play it for years to come or whenever your system gets out, which ever comes first.
That being said, here’s a list of obscure but amazingly fun games. Gamers may not bow to your feet for owning these games but seriously, why would you want to associate with someone that confers status upon your gaming collection.
1. Azure Dreams. Easily the best Mystery Dungeon type game ever made
2. Board Game Top Shop. What if Monopoly was made by the Japanese while on copious amounts of LSD
3. Clock Tower. There is no excuse not to own this.
4. Echo Night. A hard to find adventure/survival-horror game but when you do it’s only about 3-5 bucks.
5. Grandia. Although the Sega Saturn version is superior (As almost all things are when they are available for both systems like SOTN, or any SNK/Capcom fighter) only the PSX has an NTSC/English language version
6. HELLNIGHT. The best horror game ever made, albeit an ugly one. Import this for about 10 quid
7. Koudelka. The very first game in the Shadow Hearts legacy.
8. Valkyrie Profile. Okay, it’s not cheap, but seriously, it’s the best game for the PSX par none and the best RPG ever made. It’s worth the money.
9. Vanguard Bandits. A nice little tactical RPG with mechs. It’s probably the cheapest of the Working Design titles for the PSX. Well, SilMirage is cheaper but that’s because no idiot would ever buy it.
10. Knight and Baby aka Guardian’s Crusade here in the states. One of the most overlooked and underappreciated games for the PSX yet it drew rave reviews from every Japanese critic when it was released. Go see why.
Again, I want to admonish the idea of owning a game just to have it lying around collecting dust. Every game in your collection should be one you want to play. Don’t be a hordecore gamer. That is about as lame as a gamer can get. Own a game for the right reasons. Get something like Arc the Lad because you loved Working Designs or because it’s three games in one awesome collection. Don’t get it because it’s from an out of print company that you know will only grow in value. That’s what killed the comic book industry in the 90’s and I’ll be damned if I want to see that happen here too.
Guy Desmarais: I’m trying to think of fun little games I used to play over at my friend’s place back in high school (I never owned a Playstation myself. I was an N64 guy) and I’m having shoddy memories right now. Here is a list of games I do remember liking:
– Devil Dice: A nice puzzle game that I used to hog while my friend would listen to Wu-Tang and read magazines. Its mechanic was somewhat hard to understand for me at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s one of the most addictive game of the genre.
– Tomba!: It was only a rental, but as a platformer fan, I have to give it two thumbs up. I might even have to grow a third thumb so I can give it up too. It’s quirky, it’s fun, and the art style is simply amazing. With the mission system, it kinda played like a 2-D Super Mario 64. If you can find it cheap, you have to give it a try.
– Bushido Blade: The one-hit kill system at the time was like a revelation to me and seemed like the greatest thing to happen to fighting games. I haven’t played it in a decade, but if it’s still as good now as it used to be, then it’s a must have.
I also remember trying the Wu-Tang game as well as the Star Wars fighting game, but my memories of these are not as good. I also would have killed to try the Simpsons Wrestling game back then, but from what I’ve read, it’s a good thing I didn’t.
Aileen Coe: Hm…so many choices…
Some off the top of my head that I remember gluing me in front of the PS1 for hours on end:
– Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together: This one’s nigh impossible to find and goes for an arm and a leg these days. While it didn’t have as many classes and abilities as its descendant Final Fantasy Tactics (which is also a great game), it had three different paths and distinct characters for each.
– Elemental Gearbolt: Going through a shooter meant to be played with a light gun should be an exercise in frustration that most would probably quickly give up on. But despite the lack of a light gun, I’d find myself coming back to this one over and over. It was fun switching between the three weapons, though I did tend to favor the lightning weapon a bit more.
– Alundra: It had a bizarre storyline that grew progressively darker as it went on and puzzles that…well, let me put it this way: if you’re masochistic, you’ll love the whippings this game likes to hand out.
– Persona 2: Eternal Punishment: This was one of the only blind purchases I have ever made – and I’ve never regretted it one bit. It also served as my introduction into the Persona/SMT franchise.
– Parasite Eve: I loved the dark and science-heavy plot, even if the plausibility of some of the science put forth is questionable. I started a new game right after beating it so that I could ascend the Chrysler Building and unlock the new ending.
And of course, the Suikodens and the swag-heavy Lunar games are also must-haves, if you can get your hands on them (though with Suikoden I on the PSN, you’ve got one less to worry about on that front). Vanguard Bandits was another one that kept me coming back until I unlocked every ending.
Ian Gorrie: I’d have to go back to PSX since I was in handheld hibernation for most of the xbox/ps2 console era.
I was in airports and hotel rooms playing GBAs, PSPs, my sweet assed Neo Geo Pocket Color, and whatever was playable on a laptop over congested hotel and wifi connections. These were very dark times.
I can’t really think of any rare games that were extra special. I guess I’m not much of a game hipster looking for unpopular and unloved games. I tried to play what was fun on a somewhat timely basis.
Sure. I loved Symphony of the Night. I completely enjoyed FFVII. Everyone did.
Some other less popular notables that I loved to death included:
Tenshu (even though I sucked at it)
I think it might be a little more interesting to list the PSX games that I always intended to get around to playing but have not yet:
Final Fantasy Tactics, though I did play it on PSP
The Persona series
I still smile and think about joyful times when I think about the first time I went through FFVII or cleared some of the difficult boss characters in Symphony of the Night.
I know my list isn’t what you wanted, dear reader, but it’s what I’ve got for you.
A.J. Hess: Dan,
Why not adopt a kitten? With proper care and feeding, a kitten can provide years and years of affectionate, loyal companionship. They can even keep pests away!
Oh, you wanted to impress friends with a gaming collection, and not your cute, fuzzy companion? Well, Okay then. We will take a different route. Instead of just buying up a bunch of games, why don’t you funnel those energies into something else? Why don’t you build a gaming setup that would make your friends envious? Get a pair of LCD lights that move, and set them up so that they gradually approach each other. Then place them below your television, so that you look like you have the main viewscreen of the starship Enterprise. Then find a craftsman (or do it yourself. I don’t know how well you work a plank) and craft a Captain’s Chair and a few Officer’s chairs. Now you have a den that looks at home in the Final Frontier.
Don’t have that much room? Keep the idea going, but make the pilot and co-pilot chairs from the Millenium Falcon. Or, if you have loved ones who won’t let you express what is clearly the best idea for redecoration that you’ve ever had, try to find something that you all can agree on. Many furniture stores have what I can only call a “Sports Couch.” These are three to four seat units that have a step up, a higher than normal viewing level, built-in cup holders, and if you really shell out, they recline. Kind of like theater seating, but without sticky floors. Now you know exactly where everyone is going to get together to game-your awesome basement.
Wait, you want something slightly less opulent? We are gaming in a recession, after all. Dan, here’s my final thought – and it is from the heart. Ignore a classic collection. Why? Do you really need it? How many old PS, Dreamcast, N64, SNES, Gameboy, and TurboGrafx 16 games do you need? Sure, there are some gems in there. And if you want to get the best ones, you should know what they are. You don’t need to stock up on obscurity at the expense of quality. Let’s face it, the Smithsonian isn’t going to contact your great-grandkids and say “We need Dan’s stuff for the Video Game Branch of the Institute. Here’s a million dollars.” We would all like that, but it just isn’t realistic. Also, well, what does everyone play? The new stuff. Believe me, I know. I’ve been to the houses where everything from Atari to Sega is sitting there, waiting to be played, smiling silently, maybe getting ten minutes of face time before the controller gets dropped. Meanwhile, your five best buds are clustered around the new console, two of them playing Soul Calibur or Dead or Alive, and three of them eating pizza and waiting for next. Gaming isn’t about a crazy title that you’ve never seen before. It’s about getting together with your friends and having a blast. Make them jealous of the time spent with you, not what’s on your shelf.
Matt Yaeger: For the original gray box that rocks:
Marvel Super Heroes vs Street Fighter (though the load times sort of blow)
Rising Zan: The Samurai Gunman
Parasite Eve (not sure about the rarity of this one)
Point Blank 2
Adam Powell: For the original PSX: The Misadventures of Tron Bonne.
I lent my copy out and never saw it back. Damnitall!
Mohamed Al-Saadoon: I’ve always liked SkullMonkeys for the PS1. A completely crazy Earthworm Jim style platformer with claymation graphics. It’s definitely rare and will run you around 35$.
Another game that’s extremely obscure is Diver’s Dream (known as Dolphin’s Dream in Japan). It’s a diving game similar to Endless Ocean except instead of a free roam enviroment, there were several levels you could go to to explore and collect artifacts to sell in the game’s town and buy better diving equipment. It was so rare I couldn’t find a FAQ for the game and never made it past the third story mission. I only found one person on ebay selling the japanese version so you might have to dig around for quite a while.
How’s that for answers, Dan? You get both the suggestions you were looking for AND some you were probably not expecting when you first sent us your question. No matter which option you end up choosing (the kitten?), you cannot really go wrong. After all, the original Playstation had such a nice variety of games that you are sure to find something to suit your tastes in the lists we provided, even if your tastes include watching your games on a shelf accumulating dust.
Do you have a question of your own which you want our experts to answer? Take Tony’s example and send an e-mail to kapoutman AT hotmail.com with the subject line “Ask the Kliq”, or leave a comment below. We’ll put our team right on it.