While it’s easy to give Nolan North crap for being in 971 different games the last couple of years, the people at Naughty Dog bring something extra out of him that you simply don’t get in the other games he’s in. His work in Uncharted alone puts him head and shoulders above any other voice actor in the industry.
And lest we forget, the game itself is an absolute blast to play. I’m as tired of the Gears of War meets Tomb Raider analogy as anyone, but it’s hard to get around when it rings so true. Naughty Dog have taken the gameplay elements that make those games so much fun and have made something that stands apart from the both of them.
When paired with ridiculous set pieces that have become a hallmark of the series, it’s easy to see why the game walked away with so many Game of the Year awards, even in a year that included stellar titles such as Batman: Arkham Asylum, Assassin’s Creed II, and Dragon Age: Origins.
While this game sold well enough in Japan, it sold a meager 33,000 copies when it launched in North America in November 2008. If you were one of the people bitching about the lack of RPGs at the time, only to gloss over this gem, we’ll give you a second to hit yourself. Go ahead, we’ll wait. OK, good.
Valkyria Chronicles was a breath of fresh air, not just because of the lack of RPGs on the PS3 at the time, but because of it was so innovative. Putting a third-person shooter twist on the the strategy RPG formula was not only an exciting new way to play, it made the game more accessible to those that might not have tried the game otherwise. This hybrid gameplay meshed perfectly with the game’s faux-WWII setting.
Possibly best of all was the game’s art direction, leading to one of the most visually beautiful games you’ll ever play. As much as we gush about the look of games like Uncharted 2, traditional 3D games have a funny way of seeming aged 10 years later. However, the CANVAS graphics engine did a damn fine job of ensuring that Valkyria Chronicles will always be beautiful, even when we’re streaming PlayStation 6 games directly into our brains in 2032.
So if you haven’t played the game yet, redeem yourself and pick it up.
Super Mario Galaxy
As someone who grew up playing countless hours on the SNES, the core Mario titles all hold a special place in my heart. While I’m annoyed by the ridiculous milking of the plumber in every other dumb party game, I always buy a Nintendo console in anticipation of the pudgy red bastard’s antics.
Following the somewhat disappointing Super Mario Sunshine, Super Mario Galaxy was right there to pick up where Super Mario 64 left off. With the gimmicky FLUDD water cannon out of the way, Mario could get back to hardcore platforming. While there were certainly some easy levels to cater to the more casual Wii market, those looking for a challenge had to look no further than the Prankster Comet levels near the end of the game. Even the most seasoned platforming veterans had some hair-pulling moments trying to collect those damn purple coins with Luigi.