Wednesday, January 19, 2022

10 games I would replay this year if I let myself replay games

I used to replay games all the time; I rarely allow myself to do it today.

Why? The main reason is I'd rather spend my free time on games I've yet to play than those I've already experienced. Or at least that's how I've felt the last couple of years.

I'm not quite ready to change my tune here, but if I were, I'd start with one or more of the following games, each of which have been bouncing around in my brain, begging to be replayed, in recent weeks and months.

Chulip (PS2)

I've got a huge soft spot for games made by Love-de-Lic and its many offshoots. Of all the ones I've played so far, though, Chulip has proven the least compelling. I think that's because the Chulip is both quite dark and quite slow. Still, I appreciate and respect its odd and off-kilter aesthetic and story, so hopefully those aspects will carry me through my next Chulip playthrough--should one ever happen.

EarthBound (SNES)

It's been eight years since I last played this cult classic. In the meantime, I've finished both its predecessor, Mother, and its sequel, Mother 3. To be honest, a part of me would prefer to replay the first Mother rather than this follow-up, but I'm going to do my best in the next year or two to push those irrational feelings aside and return to EarthBound, aka Mother 2, instead.

Endless Ocean (Wii)

Considering how popular the Wii was during its peak, I never understood how this game failed to reach a wider audience. It certainly deserved one, in my opinion. Exploring Endless Ocean's watery world was equal parts soothing and awe-inspiring the last time I played the game, and I could use a little (OK, a lot) of both in these uncertain times. 

Fantasy Life (3DS)

After Pocket Card Jockey (below), Fantasy Life is the 3DS game that has stuck with me the most over the years. I've wanted to return to it ever since my first--and thus far only--playthrough ended. Although I usually prefer turn-based RPGs to real-time-action ones, Fantasy Life bucks that trend. Why? My guess is it's due to the game's wide and whimsical selection of jobs and weapons, which conspire to make it a joy to play despite its lack of random battles.

Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light (DS)

As much as I enjoyed playing Bravely Default and Bravely Default II, I'm not sure I enjoyed either title more than I enjoyed this 2010 precursor. Which isn't to suggest The 4 Heroes of Light is the best of this JRPG bunch. It's not. It may be the most charming, though, and that goes a long way with me. I also adore this game's soundtrack, which isn't as bombastic as that of the first Bravely Default but holds its own otherwise.

Hotel Dusk: Room 215 (DS)

In a perfect world, I'd play through Hotel Dusk once a year. It offers players such a cozy vibe and such a captivating cast of characters that it's like the video-game equivalent of comfort food for me. This world is far from perfect, though, and so annual replays of this CiNG-made treasure are not an option. But maybe I could get myself to return to it every other year?

Pocket Card Jockey (3DS)

Despite what I said earlier about rarely replaying games these days, me replaying this digital-only curiosity is nothing new. Should I find a way to boot it up again in 2022, it would be the fifth time I've done so, if memory serves. If you're wondering what makes Pocket Card Jockey, developed by Game Freak of Pokémon fame, so seductive, my answer would be that it's a rare example of "the complete package"--cute visuals, curiously captivating gameplay, and cool, jazzy OST.

Raging Loop (Switch)

Why would I choose to replay a visual novel I finished less than two years ago? For starters, I loved my first playthrough of Raging Loop so much I immediately wanted to experience it again. Also, it promises a seemingly aptly titled "Revelation Mode," which promises all kinds of additional content--including the ability to hear side characters' thoughts and witness scenes outside the protagonist's perspective.

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (3DS)

My recently realized desire to play through Theatrhythm Final Fantasy a second time comes as a bit of a shock to me. Although I adored the time I spent with this game back in 2013, I've rarely considered returning to it. Now that it's back in my mind, though, I can't stop thinking about it. Mark my words: should I actually boot up some of the games highlighted here in 2022, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy will be among them.

Void Terrarium (Switch)

I get the distinct impression that most folks don't even know Void Terrarium exists, and yet here I am, desperately wanting to give it a second go. Similarly to the above-mentioned Pocket Card Jockey, Void Terrarium successfully mashes up a pair of gaming genres--roguelike dungeon-crawler and digital pet--that really shouldn't work together. It also boasts a sweet and somber story that makes the experience even more worthwhile.