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I’m not a big fan of sequels, and the Final Fantasy games have been no exception. Final Fantasy X-2 had a goofy name, a goofier premise, and the combat, while functional and fun, was easy to break into a million pieces. The Final Fantasy Tactics Advance games were a neat change of pace from the darker tone of the original game, but I unfortunately found them to be boring. Additionally, don’t even get me started on the various sequels and prequels to Final Fantasy 7.

Yet, for some reason, I felt hopeful and excited for Final Fantasy 4: The After Years. Perhaps it’s because I hold the original game on a very high nostalgic pedestal. At the tender age of six, it was the second RPG I ever played (long before I ever thought about approaching games from a critical perspective). It’s easy to see why Final Fantasy 4 holds a special place in my heart. So, I embraced FF4: The After Years with open arms, but with the critical eye that I’ve crafted in the eighteen years since. My verdict? The game is good, but there certainly could have been much more effort put into it.

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Arcade games and early console titles once relied heavily on abstracted graphics  and gameplay that prioritized “twitch” skills and hand-eye coordination. As technology advanced and gaming became a more singular experience, complex systems and narrative depth took the fore.

The rise of downloadable gaming, however, has allowed that design philosophy to once again take prominence, as smaller games offer bite-sized chunks of satisfying old-school gameplay in a “retro revival” of sorts. Bit.Trip Core is one of those games, and does its job very well, all the while incorporating modern design sensibilities to deliver a wholly unique experience.

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July introduced more goodies for Final Fantasy 4: The After Years, including three new quests: one for Yang, the karate master of the kingdom of Fabul: Palom, the arrogant black magic prodigy of the magedom of Mysidia; and Edge: the young king of the ninja kingdom of Eblan.

Each quest costs 300 Wii Points ($3 USD), and is completely optional to the main game; only the main quest (bought for 800 Wii Points) and the final chapter, which will be released in September for 800 Wii Points, are necessary. These quests are here to supplement the story and allow you to get levels and items for the characters before they inevitably meet up and save the world. Since they’re optional, the real question is “Are the quests fun?”

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What would you get if you tried to combine Disney’s Hercules films and Mario Kart? Other than a copyright-infringement lawsuit, the likely result would be Heracles Chariot Racing, a WiiWare and PS2 game from Neko Entertainment.

As may be inferred from the title, the game involves Heracles engaging in a brutal contest of will, strength and skill, driving horseless chariots around whimsically designed courses and lobbing deadly weapons at each other in pursuit of victory. But how does it stack up against its competitors and the rest of the WiiWare crowd?

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Today LucasArts announced that the remake of The Secret of Monkey Island will hit both the PC and Xbox 360 Wednesday, July 15.

Featuring selectable new graphics, full voice acting and a re-orchestrated score, The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition will arrive on the PC via Steam and on the Xbox 360 though Xbox Live Marketplace. As of right now no official price has been announced. Read more… »

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The moment that Wii Sports Resort was an announced reality, industry professionals everywhere knew that this title would sell incredibly well for a very, very long time. It should not be any sort of surprise that so many are enjoying the sunny shores of Wii Sports Resort.

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Rumors were floating abroad that Australia was going to see a delay, but it looks like everyone PAL is getting to wait a bit longer for The Conduit. Sega UK says that there have been multiple localization issues causing the delay.

In North America, the June 23rd date stands. Europe will need to wait until July.

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The 1995 cult action game Comix Zone finally made its debut on the VC and XBLA today, if you haven’t already picked up a copy in a Genesis Collection it’s definitely worth grabbing for some comic book mayhem.

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WiiSports Resort has just been announced, it’s going to include sky diving, archery, basketball, and apparently a bunch more.

The archery will require a lot of skill, and precision. You literally hold it just like you would a real bow. Its not about learning the controls, but doing what comes naturally, it’s meant to become dependent on your own skills.

From what we have seen the basketball controls are simple, you hold the Wii Remote, and shoot the “remote” without letting go. Some people are literally raising from the tip of their toes, and into the hoop. Once you find your pace, you can keep going over and over. Competition is key.

Don’t forget, it launches July 26th!

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In my younger years as a gamer, E3 was not the biggest place to learn about Nintendo. It was their annual Spaceworld event. It was here that they would reveal many of their new consoles, handhelds, and major game releases. It is being rumored that some sort of big event, not exactly Spaceworld is going to happen again.

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This company may not make as big of an impact as it once did, but it still holds a very special place in many an old school gamers heart. With classics like Arkanoid, Bubble Bobble and Rainbow Islands its hard not to love this little company. Shooting rainbows from your face has never been so enjoyable!

Today they announced that they are bringing a renewed focus to WiiWare and also to the Nintendo DS. This focus will bring four to the Wii, and two to the DS. Hit the jump for the press release that details everything.

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The highly praised Truama Center franchise is about to get a major facelift. Although Hospital is not intended as a direct sequel, it is going to be a spiritual-successor for those who enjoy virtual surgery.

This title from Atlus will incorporate those gameplay elements, but add so many more to the table. It will follow the story of six hospital staffers, each with a specific medical specialty. Atlus also revealed that there would be two-player cooperative play. Hit the jump for a breakdown of the six staff members.

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