Well, folks, it’s been a good while, hasn’t it? The good news is, I’ve beaten a game recently (believe it or not), and it just so happened to make the cut for a WCG. On this dreary Sunday morning, I felt compelled to sit down at my newly beloved desk, and pour my heart out, as to why this game has made it into my top five games of all time. Ladies and gentleman, this…is Shadow Of The Colossus.
Before we jump in, I bought this game years ago. Well, a year or two ago. Either way, it’s been in my backlog for quite some time now, and after abandoning a game I wasn’t a huge fan of, I felt it was finally time to try SOTC out, once and for all. SOTC has been a very well received game for many, many years now. Originally a PS2 title, and then a remastered PS3 title, followed by the final remake by BluePoint Games. The Gods of remakes and remasters. Game reinstalled, I fired it up to see what all the fuss was about.
I normally don’t write one of these until I have completed a game, however, with God Of War, it was simply too irresistible to ignore. Folks, I am in love with this game, and I must tell you all about it as soon as possible. Most of you may know by now, a game really has to pack a punch and grab me in a way that will hold my attention long enough to play more than thirty minutes and then shelve it. Let’s just say I’ve played a lot more than thirty minutes of this masterful game. Well, without further ado, I am going to try and express why God Of War is shaping up to be one, cool game.
Hoo-Boy. The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. One of my most beloved games of all time. How do I honor this masterful title with a measly Will’s Cool Game article? I honestly don’t think I’m going to be able to capture, in this short write up, why this game is not only one of the coolest games around, but also why it could be my favorite game of all time. There, I said it! I said could be. Calm yourselves. Folks, let’s find out why I’ve spent a good portion of my life roaming the lands of Skyrim with sheer joy and wonder, and why I will continue to do so as long as I’m a gamer. Without further a-do, I have one thing to shout. FUS-DOH-RAH!!
Folks, where do I begin with this one. The one and only, Metal Gear Solid. Arguably, this very special title is regarded as one of the greatest video games of all time, and for good reason! In so many ways, this classic shaped the way we play games today, and certainly the way stealth is implemented in game design. From the polygonal visuals, the blurry faces, the outstanding and remarkable soundtrack, the revolutionary game design, the insanely robust characters, to one of the best stories ever told, Metal Gear Solid gets my stamp of approval for a cool game. Let’s dive in and find out why this experience holds such a special place in most gamers lives. This, is Metal Gear Solid.
I grew up watching plenty of anime. Classics such as Akira, Ninja Scroll, Dragon Ball Z, Wicked City, etc. Animations were fluid, story lines were compelling and outlandish, and they all oozed style beyond your wildest imaginations. I suppose I never imagined video games to look and play like an anime. Well folks, I’ve discovered a game that has taken everything that made those animes so special, and wrapped it all up in a little package. Once unwrapped, you will be rewarded with a magical game called Gravity Rush 2. Welcome to another edition of Will’s Cool Games.
Where to start? Gravity Rush 2 is truly a unique gameplay experience to say the least. Released on the PS4 in January of 2017, players control Kat, who at first, at least with the games opening sequence, is an expert miner, mining shiny green orb things known as Gravity Ore. After a turn of events, your mining suit is stripped away and you find yourself escaping the mine with a friend named Syd. What’s going on? Why am I so nimble, who am I following, really? Questions arise as you escape the mine and find yourself on a floating world known as Banga Village. Things unravel quickly as you run into prominent characters and get your bearings. As the prologue unfolds, you discover the abilities that quickly turn into staple navigation methods. Here’s where controlling Kat gets really cool.
There’s a reason why this game earned the title of Gravity Rush 2. Kat’s “superpower”, if you will, is manipulation of gravity. With the tap of a button, players can launch Kat into the air at any time and can “missle” her into enemies and objects, as well as travel to what you thought was an unreachable area. Is it a rush though? Absolutely! Kat’s hair blows in the wind as you experience the thrill only Superman and Iron Man can endure. Yes ladies and gentlemen, your dreams of flying through the air as a female anime character and owner of a black cat have come true, finally. Ok, so maybe your dreams of launching through the air to escape traffic have come true. Sort of. Tell me more about the cat, Will! Kat’s cat, heh heh, is named Dusty, and is a cat shaped “Guardian” who grants Kat the ability to shift gravity. There are three gravity styles in Gravity Rush 2. An original style introduced in the first game, Lunar, and Jupiter. Lunar is a lighter mode that has Kat’s jumping and speed ability cranked up to suit the situation. Jupiter is a heavier setting better suited for attacks with impact in mind. You switch between these with the PS4’s touchpad. In a lot of instances, you look and feel like a massive wind tunnel is blowing you away and you cannot do anything about ending this experience. Sounds horrible, right? Wrong. Not when you’re Kat.
I’ve got a cat companion that has galaxy fur, and I can shift gravity because of Dusty the cat, but why? What’s the motive, here? Well, without revealing too much of the plot, you’re on this floating township of Banga, you befriend a girl named Cecie, and you work to mine gravity ore, traveling around gathering supplies for trader’s and so on. The plot is fairly involved, and truthfully I have not finished the game (no surprise here), but honestly, the plot isn’t the selling point here. It’s the rest of the package. I shouldn’t say rest, as this game really is made up of it’s gorgeous, fluid, anime-come-to-life visuals, engaging soundtrack, and the outrageously fun gameplay. Gravity Rush 2 is truly breathtaking, and the soundtrack that encompasses what you’re experiencing on screen is nothing short of marvelous.
Speaking of soundtrack, the main menu opens with trumpets commanding your attention, upbeat orchestral power punches ensue, followed by sweeping melodies of violins and Spanish sounding horns that leave you inspired to do laundry, and do it with passion. What a jam packed introduction you’re blessed with at the title menu! One minute I’m at a orchestral concert on a hot summer’s night in Barcelona, the next minute I’m being swept away by John William’s. Man, what an intro. Arriving in Banga, you’re treated with pan flutes, a shakuhachi perhaps, some kind of Japanese flute, damnit! An acoustic guitar (I think) lightly strumming away, all kinds of neat sounds that fills your ears as you traverse this floating village. Pause the game and you witness a series of Kill Bill-esque silhouettes of Kat’s signature moves. Shadows of Kat dance around behind the game’s menu options as you suddenly realize you’re playing the coolest game you’ve ever played. Well, certainly one of them! This game truly oozes style and finesse that often isn’t this prevalent and unique. From a presentation perspective, I give this game, on a scale of 1 to 10, an 11. Yep, an 11.
Let’s circle back to the gameplay here for a moment. You’re probably wondering about combat perhaps. Are there weapons of any sort, are you fighting anything? If your guess was gravity enhanced attacks, you’re mostly right. However, Kat has some pretty cool ground combat arts too. Let’s dive in, shall we? Let’s talk ground, or arena style combat, first. Kat has a series of kicks up her sleeve that would make the likes of Van Damme and Hwoarang a tad bit jealous. Outside of kicking, rolling, and a few jump attacks, Kat’s main source of dealing damage is with her gravitational blows. Once in the air, Kat chooses to sort of charge up, and hurl herself legs first at the enemy ahead, dealing a gravity infused drop kick, if you will. It’s pretty clever, and is a simple concept when viewed for what it is. It’s satisfying, and fits the game’s main mechanical vision, perfectly. Kat also wields the ability to use her inner Jedi powers to manipulate objects in the world such as crates and heavy objects to hurl at her foes. This can be a ton of fun when you think your enemy has seen it all. Raven, another gravity shifter like Kat, is an ally you’ll tag team with frequently, primarily when battling bosses. There’s just so much to cover, so I suggest just buying the game. Now. Right now. Then thank me later.
There’s a lot to do in the world of Gravity Rush 2. People to meet and interact with, missions to complete, bosses to fight, upgrades to find, etc. There’s an active pulse while running through villages filled with characters galore, from vendors to jugglers, to birds in the street and noises of dogs and geese strolling around. The world is beautiful most of the time, and at times quite grim, given the situation. Cutscenes are engaging and the way the conversations are handled is like a comic book that you can control by playing around with the dualshocks motion engine. For example, when in the midst of one of the comic book style conversations, you can tilt your controller to “move” the pages. Subtle, touch, but still super cool. The infamous speaker on the controller is used here, too, and sounds bleed through it when you least expect it. But at the end of the day, it’s not so much about the details, even though they certainly don’t go overlooked, it’s about the gameplay and the presentation that’s injected into the whole package. I’m really looking forward to playing more of it, and hopefully completing it in a respectable time frame. Yeah, I know, good luck, Will. I can hear it already! But on a serious note, this game was over shadowed and perhaps ignored by most, but I strongly encourage you to at least try it. I also hope this examination of the game gives you just a hint of the coolness that’s present with this title.
2014. At this point, you were probably thinking, “What game should I play next?”. Or maybe, just maybe, you were playing a little game called Transistor. The PS4 has a speaker built into it in case you didn’t know. A handful of game developers utilized this speaker in some pretty cool ways. The devs at SuperGiant Games incorporated the speaker for this game, and they did that speaker justice. So much so, that it’s my favorite feature of the game. Folks, this is Transistor.
Players take control of a female character named Red. Red is a famous singer located in a city called Cloudbank, who gets ambushed by a robotic force known as “The Process”. You eventually escape and you come across a big glowing sword buried in the chest of dead man. This sword is known as “The Transistor”. Red’s voice, as well as the man’s voice and consciousness, seem to have been absorbed by sword you now possess. How cool is this plot, so far?!
Now, as I always highlight in a WCG article, what makes this game so cool? Everything. Well, perhaps not absolutely everything, but darn close! The game takes place in a futuristic steampunk universe, where neon colors bleed off the screen, and the sword you wield talks to you. If you have this setting on, the Transistor will speak to you throughout the entire game through your dual shock 4, and it is the coolest thing, ever. Not only does it talk to you with a running commentary similar to Bastion, but the light bar flickers in tune with the sword’s manly voice. If you don’t have this setup in options, I’m convinced you don’t want a memorable experience unlike anything else. The best part about this feature is the fact that the voice sounds like it’s in the room with you. I would assume this is due to the speaker being directly underneath your chin, but also due to the geniuses over at SuperGiant Games. They want you to feel like the voice is in the room with you, and they succeeded in every sense of the way. Bravo!
While battling enemies through many locations in Cloudbank, you use a system known as “Turn”. Turn allows you to plan to your attack while time is frozen. You could compare it to Witch Time in Bayonetta, or any turn based combat for that matter, but what makes Turn so unique in Transistor is the sheer coolness of it. When Turn is activated, the world becomes a green colored bullet journal grid, allowing you to “draw” your plan of attack, while being entranced by Red’s ethereal hum. It’s bloody fantastic. Your precise attack then unfolds before your eyes in pure artistic fashion. The Process bot is swiftly defeated, and you continue your journey dragging your talking sword across the ground, leaving behind a trail of Platinum Games sparks created by the Transistor’s computer chip-like appearance.
At any point in the game, well, once unlocked per se, you can hum your way to a state of pure bliss. Hit a button, and Red pauses to hum her way to peace. A god-ray falls down upon Red like a faded spotlight, as she hums beautifully. Is there any real purpose to this feature? No. But does there need to be? It’s a reminder to the player that Red is an incredible singer, and has a stunning voice. If you play this gem of a game, make sure you don’t miss this fine example of artistic detail. With Red’s vocals sealed in a sword, her hum is the only thing left to keep her pressing forward. That’s my interpretation, at least.
“Flourish” is another example of a hidden talent of sorts that Red and The Transistor possess. Tap a button and Red tossing the Transistor like a baton in front of her and she gracefully leaps through the air towards it, as she catches it like a Cirque Du Soleil performer. This game is pure art coming to life, folks.
“We can stop this. He disappeared. He’s not hiding. He’s hunting.” The Transistor will motivate you. It will alert you. It’s voice is a guiding light in a robotic universe you once knew. A valuable, necessary side kick for you to bring with you as you tackle The Process and discover why this all happened. Four slots at the bottom of the screen allow you to see your equipped Transistor techniques, also known as “Functions.” These functions can be stacked, essentially, to create a more powerful effect. You can also collect “Limiters”, allowing Red to obtain optional debuffs during combat, and in turn, increase experience gained. All of these functions animations are simply incredible to behold.
Cutscenes are displayed in water color fashion, with subtle animations through-out. Think of a water color comic book with animations lifting off the page. Pretty surreal, right? Music is played throughout your journey during boss battles, business as usual navigation, and during cutscenes. It’s a terrific soundtrack that jumps from synth-y loops to heart wrenching ballads such as “Paper Boats”. If you don’t play the game, listen to the soundtrack at the least!
Transistor takes Red on an unforgettable journey uncovering memories of her singing career. You traverse on your sweet motorcycle as you uncover why you found yourself pulling a memory card sword out of a man’s chest. You fight The Process and enemies called “Haircut” and “Man”, and you do it in precisely planned stylistic fashion. What’s not cool about that?
THIS IS X-MEN VERSUS STREET FIGHTER! Yells the caffeine infused announcer for this glorious title. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is one of my all-time favorite games. It’s also a very cool game, that happened to more or less start the versus series that we see today. X-Men Vs. Street Fighter accomplished so much in what it delivered, and was one of the hottest arcade cabs of all time in the fighting game world. Let’s find out why, shall we?
1996. The good old arcade days. The 90’s. A time period we may never get back again, I’m afraid. Super soakers, remote control RC cars, and whistling Nerf footballs ran rampant. Ahh, the memories. Will, focus! Visit your local Barcade or some hipster run, arcade-with-a-bar kind of place, and you may stumble across this legendary cabinet in today’s world. All I can say is this is, and has been, a difficult game to come across. Originally released as your traditional coin operated arcade cabinet in ’96, X-Men Vs. Street Fighter is a pretty straight forward, self explanatory concept. Let’s mash up the best characters from the worlds of X-Men and Street Fighter, throw in a psychotic announcer, some of the best art and animation in a game you’ve ever seen, tag team functionality, some of the coolest move sets around, and this is what you get. It’s injected with bright colors, cool sounds, and just pure energy. Is this a perfect game? Well, no, not exactly. Maybe the arcade version, but there were some low moments for this versus title. Let’s dive a little deeper.
How cool would it be to play as a lightning infused, katana-wielding cyborg, that has the ability to run faster than Usain Bolt, along with the power to crush an artificial spine with your bare hand? Well, I may have a game suggestion for you. Developed my one of my favorite game developers Platinum Games, this, is Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. One can only dream that was a real word.
Let’s take things back to February 19th, 2013, when this cool game was released. For the Metal Gear fans out there, you may have heard of a fellow by the name of Raiden. Yes, yes, I know, Metal Gear Solid 2. We won’t go there. I happen to love that game, but that’s another article! In Metal Gear Rising, you take control of Raiden’s cyborg infused self, wielding perhaps the most satisfying katana you’ve ever used in a video game. The story is set four years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots, quite possibly my favorite game of the series, and you are confronting a private military company, “Desperado Enforcement.” The story is not what makes this game so cool though, it’s the sheer gameplay. Let’s talk about why this game was cool enough to almost have me pre-order an electric infused lamp..thing..with a sword in it. Picture to follow..
Have you ever played a game so memorable, so meaningful, and perhaps, so cool, that you would be brave enough to etch the game’s art onto your forearm? Well, if you have, bravo. If you haven’t, I’m here to tell you why Asura earned a permanent home on my left arm. Welcome back, to another edition of Will’s Cool Games.
Asura’s Wrath lets you take control of a demigod named Asura, who seeks revenge of the demigods who betrayed him. Fairly simple premise here, but man, is it executed in a cool fashion. Fans of anime will feel right at home with its episodic, tv show, interactive-anime format. There are plenty of quicktime events to be aware of, and if thats not in your wheel house, it may take some time to get used to. But what other game allows you to perfectly time smashing the X button, while watching Asura punch through an entire planet in outer space? Asura’s Wrath. Why? Because punching through a planet with your fist while screaming is cool. That’s why.
Sekiro. Sekeero. Sekeroh. I’m still trying to figure out how to properly pronounce the title of this game. Welcome back to another Will’s Cool Games editorial! Today I will be covering why this game could be the coolest game for me yet, and why and I can’t seem to play it without the fear of me destroying it, and feeling like an absolute failure. Sekeero. I’m going to stick with that for now..
What does Sekiro mean, anyway? The direct Japanese translation is “one-armed wolf”, and Sekiro is the main protagonist. You are the one armed wolf, and a deadly one at that. You have a prosthetic arm, and a sharp, sometimes shiny sword. Channel your memories of Tenchu for a moment, and envision your character traversing rooftops via grappling hook, and swooping down on enemies while impaling them with your sword. Sekiro does a bang up job rekindling this, but in a much cooler way. Your mission is to attempt revenge on a samurai clan who kidnapped him and his lord. So, with a small glimpse into what this game is all about, let’s find out how it made the cut for a Will’s Cool Game, shall we?