The COVID-19 pandemic has made a number of people revisit their old gaming consoles to alleviate the boredom of being indoors. As for me, however – my days of console gaming are over. The last gaming console I ever owned was the first PlayStation, back when I was 9 years old. I stopped console gaming when I turned 17 or 18, eventually dropping out when I became 19.
But even though I kept the old PlayStation console in our attic, some games have left an indelible mark in me as a gamer. More than twenty years on, some of these titles would either get a remastered version or serve as a basis for other franchise titles. I’m at that point in my life where even the latest edition of a gaming console is a frivolity for me. But give me a good laptop and an emulator, and I’d gladly play these games again and reminisce!
Here are three games that have left a lasting memory on me.
Ehrgeiz: God Bless The Ring
Way before Dissidia: Final Fantasy where heroes and villains from the franchise fought against each other, there was this fighting game called Ehrgeiz: God Bless The Ring. It notably featured a number of characters from Final Fantasy VIII, and a separate quest mode featuring some elements of the main game. I managed to finish this mode called Brand New Quest, but I found its ending rather short and underwhelming.
FF7 characters available from the start include Cloud Strife, Tifa, and Sephiroth – with Yuffie Kisaragi, Vincent Valentine and Zack Fair unlockable with multiple playthroughs. Brand New Quest main protagonists Koji Masuda and Claire Andrews are also unlockable in the main game. Whichever character you use, the most challenging part here is beating the final boss while the credits roll!
Squaresoft (now Square Enix) and DreamFactory were the ones behind this title. Unfortunately, there has been no news if Ehrgeiz: God Bless The Ring would see a reboot.
Jade Cocoon: Story of the Tamamayu
Jade Cocoon: Story of the Tamamayu is one of the rather underrated role-playing games for the PS1. It featured character designs from Katsuya Kondō, the animator behind KiKi’s Delivery Service. While some of the cutscenes were rather dragging, the surreal forest environment and soundtrack reminiscent of tribal music left a lasting impression.
The game’s capture mechanism is similar to that of Pokémon – enemy minions need to be weakened first before they can be caught. Most of the creatures in Jade Cocoon: Story of the Tamamayu look like insects (as the name implies), but some of them are also modeled after aquatic creatures and other members of the animal kingdom. The turn-based system can be a hassle at times, especially when multiple enemies are involved. I finished this game but didn’t bother to go through the Eternal Corridor after the first playthrough.
Genki and Crave Entertainment brought Jade Cocoon: Story of the Tamamayu to life, but the latter company folded up in 2012. Meanwhile, Genki went on to produce racing games and the Kengo franchise – a spiritual successor to Square Enix’s Bushido Blade series.
Monster Rancher 2
Many gamers cite Monster Rancher 2 as one of the games that left a lasting impression on them – myself included. This early example of a life simulation game was proposed as a more settled version of other monster titles compared to its contemporaries Pokémon and Digimon. Players raise their monsters on a ranch, experience the four seasons, join monster tourneys, and participate in expeditions.
Getting rare monsters is the game’s main challenge – and creating mixed-breed monsters adds to the excitement. Monsters you obtain impart certain attributes (e.g. space / futuristic, desert / Middle Eastern, armored, evil, godly / angelic, etc.) to your existing creature. Despite playing this game many times, I have yet to make a monster reach the so-called Major 4. Most creatures I obtain die within a span of two years at most – but a lot of YouTube videos now have tutorials on how to breed monsters beyond that duration.
Monster Rancher 2 is one of the main titles developed by Tecmo before it merged with game developer Koei (of Dynasty Warriors fame). More than 20 years later, Koei Tecmo released a re-mastered version of the game. Unfortunately, only the Japanese version is available for now – with an English release seemingly in the pipes.
How about you? What particular titles from this console still stay with you until now? What PS1 titles did you rediscover while on lockdown?
That’s it for this throwback post; until the next entry, stay safe!