B1 Intermediate US 204 Folder Collection
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Heya basement dwellers!
I was just getting ready for my upcoming guest spot at Anime Expo
which basically involves doing twice as much work as I normally do
in order to fill out that week of content in advance,
when I noticed that Steam is doing that thing that they do every summer
where they steal all of the money from our wallets
under the guise of giving us awesome deals on video games.
And I noticed that in particular they have quite a lot of anime games on sale.
Maybe too many.
Between all those enticing low rent visual novels and JRPGs
how's a basement dweller supposed to know what's actually good?
By blindly following the advice of a talking head on Youtube, that's how!
Behold, my followers!
These are the Anime Pope's Ten Commandments
for... uh... really good lesser-known anime-style video games
that are currently cheap because it's summer
so I think you should buy them!

Or if the Steam summer sale has ended by the time you watch this:
Just ten anime games that are good anyway
and you should buy them if you can afford them, I guess.
These are roughly ordered from my least to most favourite
although, to be clear I love all of them
and I've tried to provide a wide range of genres
so that everyone can find something that entertains them.
Also, just for the record, none of these recommendations are sponsored
and all are games that I bought with my own money.
Now these deals won't be around forever, so with all of that out of the way,
let's dive into the list.
In 10th place we've got Forgotten Anne,
a recent psuedo-indie game published by the Square Enix Collective.
And I'm recommending it because, I mean, Gosh, just look at it.
The whole game is an absolute feast for the eyes
with intricately detailed backgrounds and gorgeous hand-animated sprites
that flow seamlessly into even more gorgeous cutscenes.
Accompanied by orchestral music that will make your heart soar like a goddamn Ghibli film.
And I think the Ghibli comparison is more apt here than for just about any other game on the store
including that one that Ghibli helped to make.
Its hand-animated world is full of quirky, charming characters
bursting with personality and given some very unique character designs.
Every last one is an anthropomorphised object
brought to life with clever, expressive animations.
See, Forgotten Anne is set in the Forgotten Lands,
a wonderfully realised steampunk parallel world
where lost and forgotten household items - and sometimes humans - go to slowly fade away.
The objects sent there gain minds of their own
and while some continue to fulfil the purpose they had back on Earth
hoping to return there one day,
others seek to make more of themselves with their newfound freedom.
Anne, our protagonist, is a young girl caught in the middle of this debate and left to make a choice.
Well, a lot of choices.
Because this is kind of a fusion between a puzzle-platformer and a Telltale-style choice-driven adventure game.
And while the story of Forgotten Anne doesn't branch out too much
it's so delightful to play through that I don't think you'll mind.
There's no other game out there quite like this
and it got me to smile, laugh, and even tear up a bit
which was a lot more than I expected going into it.
Next up, in 9th place, we've got Tales of Berseria
the newest entry in Namco Bandai's long-running action RPG Tales series.
(It's Bandai Namco Geoff, not Namco Bandai)
And one of the best games in the series to date.
Berseria has a pretty dark story by Tales game standards,
but also one of the best in recent memory.
I don't want to spoil it, and I don't have time to properly summarise it,
but it goes to some pretty dark places and has some of the strongest character writing in the series.
And this is one of the most engaging game worlds that the series has had to explore
since it made the jump to full 3D with Xillia, as well.
There's a lot of places that it improves on the last few games.
But the real draw of the Tales series has always been the combat system,
a frantic, action-heavy affair that blends JRPG party management with fighting game-like battle mechanics.
The system has gotten more and more refined and fun to use with each instalment
and Berseria is easily the meatiest, most nuanced incarnation to date.
If you love mashing buttons and min-maxing characters like I do, this game is a dream come true.
But really, you can consider this a stand-in for all of the Tales games on the store
because Zestiria is quite fun, even if the story and world are kinda weak,
and Tales of Symphonia has an amazing storyline even if the combat and the port are kind of clunky.
So if either of those catches your eye instead, I recommend checking them out as well.
At number 8, I'm recommending an all-time classic.
A game for the truly sophisticated weebs among you:
Huniepop is a visual novel dating-sim that
well, OK, let's be real, you know exactly what kind of game it just from looking at it.
It's the kind of game that was gonna be banned from Steam until Valve recently changed their minds
and the kind of game that I can't really show much on Youtube.
In regards to Huniepop's, uh, main features
I can attest that the CGs are very high quality as are the girls.
Their personalities are a little on the abrasive side
but generally in a pretty funny, endearing way.
And Kyu is best girl.
Kyu: Seriously? You're seriously gonna ask me that? It's fuckin' pink, bitch!
If you want a good 'dating sim' (wink wink) with all that that entails then Huniepop definitely has you covered,
but it also functions as a surprisingly fun and strategic match 3 puzzle game.
See, the game's hook is that instead of just dating girls through dialogue trees,
it uses a Bejeweled puzzle mechanic as a metaphor
for the dance of flirting, giving gifts and showing girls a good time.
You can even use those mechanics to 'seal the deal', as it were (wink wink),
once you get their affection high enough and go on that last date.
This is *not* an all-ages recommendation, though,
so if you have to ask your parents what anything I just said means,
then you should just move onto our 7th place suggestion...
Man, I- I can't do that justice
But this game is a strange one - a cel-shaded roller skating game from the Dreamcast era
that sits somewhere between Tony Hawk and a collect-a-thon platformer in terms of its design.
Though the Xbox exclusive sequel, Jet Set Radio Future, is a lot prettier and tighter overall,
this is still an incredible game that I think everyone should play at least once.
And at just over a buck on sale, you're probably never gonna find it cheaper.
Jet Set Radio is a game all about leaving your mark -
literally, as it has you skating through the streets of Tokyo,
tagging as many buildings as you can with a huge assortment of pre-made graffiti
or with your own custom imported tags.
And you have to do it while doing crazy tricks and fending off rival street gangs
as well as the cops, who take stopping hoodlums like you from marking up the city VERY seriously.
Hilariously so.
The game doesn't really have much in the way of a serious storyline,
but it makes up for it with style and personality,
rewarding gameplay and quite possibly the best soundtrack ever put in a video game.
At least up until the release of that Xbox sequel that I mentioned.
If you've ever wished that Tony Hawk felt a bit more like The World Ends With You,
At number 6, I'm recommending Higurashi When They Cry Hou,
the excellent visual novel that inspired the equally excellent anime of the same name.
Higurashi, if you're not familiar, is basically a cute slice of life moe story set in a quiet mountain town
that goes very wrong, very quickly.
And then, well I, I won't spoil what happens
but this is one of the best horror anime - and horror games - ever made,
and I recommend going in fresh if you can.
If you're unconvinced and you wanna try it out, you can buy the game's first chapter as a stand-alone title for just a buck-fifty.
Trust me, it is more than worth it.
And since I've got a bit of time to spare, I'll let you know that the video game versions
of Steins;Gate, Clannad and Fruit of Grisaia are all also on sale right now.
If the horror-mystery stylings of Higurashi aren't to your taste, those are all fantastic games as well.
Also, there's no anime based on Cho Dengeki Stryker yet,
but there definitely should be, and...
OK, if I keep sneaking in visual novel suggestions we'll be here all day,
so let's move onto number 5:
Skullgirls, with the 2nd Encore Upgrade DLC being a must-have purchase on top of it.
Skullgirls is a 2D tag-team fighting game with a pretty nifty matchup mechanic.
You can fight with a team of between 1 and 3 characters,
but the more characters you bring in, the weaker all of them are.
That means that if you're not into the whole tag fighting gameplay dynamic,
you can use a single character to play a decently balanced match against a friend using a team.
And it adds a lot of variety to the potential matchups available without the need to create a huge roster of characters.
Although with 13 characters, including that DLC, it's no slouch in that regard.
At least, not anymore.
And it's easy to forgive the small-ish roster when you consider that this is an indie release,
and yet it looks, well, like this.
These high-res hand-drawn sprites are gorgeously animated
and can give even the best-looking 2D Japanese fighters a run for their money.
The cast is full of clever, memorable character desgins
that draw from both anime and classic Western animation.
Think Cuphead meets Blazblue.
There is a ton of variety in play styles, the OST is jazz heaven and it just feels great to play.
Taste in fighting games is obviously kinda subjective, but I personally think that Skullgirls
is the best American-developed fighting game ever.
ALSO, Valentine is best girl, and I will fight all of you on both of those points.
Next up, in 4th place, we've got two Steam clichés rolled into one:
an RPG-maker game that's also an indie horror game.
But don't let the cute chibi sprites and character portraits fool you - this game WILL fuck you up.
It's honestly scarier than most 3D horror games that I've played in my lifetime,
and that mostly comes down to the creepy ass writing,
which takes heavy inspiration from J-horror classics like The Ring,
which know that the scariest thing in the world is a little Japanese schoolgirl.
Originally created way back in 1996 with the OG RPG-maker software,
Corpse Party has stood the test of time through several remakes and a few kinda disappointing sequels
and still holds up for its mix of eerie psychological horror and terrifying gore.
The game follows a group of plucky teenagers on the world's worst field trip,
as they find themselves trapped in a dilapidated extradimensional elementary school
haunted by the hateful ghosts of dead children!
The game masterfully builds a creeping sense of existential dread
as you explore the decaying hallways of the school, and when the scares come,
holy shit you will not be ready.
The characters are very likable and well-developed, and with 20 possible endings, almost all of them bad,
you'll have a chance to see your attachment to every single one of them punished in the worst possible ways.
Do not play this game with the lights out or before you go to bed.
Now, if you're more into sad stuff than spooky stuff, you can substitute that recommendation
for the hauntingly beautiful To The Moon,
which is getting an anime adaptation, and gosh dang, am I ever excited about that.
Our 3rd place entry, Valkyria Chronicles, had a much, uh, less exciting anime adaptation
but that does nothing to taint how amazing the actual game is.
*cue epic music*
Valkyria Chronicles is a tactical RPG with third-person shooting elements
that falls somewhere between Fire Emblem and Worms in terms of how it handles.
On your turn you're given essentially free reign to run around the gorgeous watercolour-painted battlefields
within a limited range of motion
and you attack enemies by lining them up in an aiming reticle that gets smaller the higher your accuracy is.
But you can't just take your time moving into position and lining up shots
because enemies will fire at you from cover on your turn
so you need to move carefully and set up defensive perimeters of your own along the way.
Add tanks, sniper rifles and rocket launchers to the mix
as well as a huge roster of unique characters with perks and flaws based on their colourful personalities
including a few guest appearances from the all-time classic Skies of Arcadia
all of whom can permanently die
and you've got yourself a game brimming with strategic possibilities.
...And a little bit of bullshit game balance
that is totally forgivable in light of its brilliant story.
Set in a fictionalised steampunky version of Europe during World War II,
Valkyria Chronicles follows upstart commander Welkin Gunther as he uses unconventional tactics
and the power of love
to save his homeland from an invading empire
on an adventure that is far too grand for me to summarise here.
Despite its colourful looks, the game offers one of the most sombre, authentic takes on the horror of war of just about anything I've ever played
and the story hits some emotional beats that still make me cry to this day,
even 10 years after it first hit PS3.
Another thing that still holds up 10 years later is the presentation.
From the menus to the in-game graphics
everything is made to feel like an illustrated history book come to life.
A full generation on after the jump to PC,
all Valkyria Chronicles needs to still look jaw-dropping is a bit of anti-aliasing
that can be provided by the potatoeist of modern PC hardware.
And, uh, did I say that Jet Set Radio has the best OST ever?
Because I take that back.
This orchestral soundtrack by Hitoshi Sakimoto of Final Fantasy Tactics and lots of other things fame
literally just ruined my pants.
Holy crap.
The 4th game in this series cannot come soon enough
and neither can I.
Speaking of great games and great series, I'm giving 2nd place honours to what is, in my opinion,
the greatest visual novel series *ever* written:
Zero Escape: The Nonary Games.
And specifically the first game - 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors.
Which has a story that's absolutely mind-blowing and which you should avoid spoiling for yourself at all costs.
Written by Kotaro Uchikoshi, the mad genius behind Punchline
who will also be a guest at Anime Expo, by the way,
999 and its sequels tell a Saw-inspired story of strangers trapped in a remote location by a masked psychopath
forced to play a game in order to escape.
That game involves a mix of visual novel-style conversations and escape the room adventure game segments
where you must solve puzzles in order to progress.
Most paths through the game will end with just about everyone dying but it's designed to be replayed,
hunting for the right groupings of characters and the right chain of cause and effect
that will allow almost everyone to escape alive.
Uchikoshi has the best handle on the intricacies of branching continuity
of maybe any writer working in video games today
so the logic of it all plays out exactly as you'd expect,
and what results is a branching narrative that becomes an escape room puzzle unto itself.
It's really incredible.
And the story itself is also good. Really good.
The characters are wonderful, the plot is tense and exciting
and the game raises some fascinating philosophical and pseudo-scientific questions as you wander down its many intertwining roots.
The sequels are pretty much just as strong
but you shouldn't even look at them until you've finished the first game due to heavy spoilers.
However, you will have to buy them together since the first game is only available
in a bundle with its sequel, Virtue's Last Reward, as part of the Nonary Games pack.
And you can get the 3rd game, the Zero Time Dilemma,
either on its own or as part of the trilogy bundle for an even steeper discount.
There's just no better visual novel on Steam than Zero Escape.
I can't even think of anything else that can touch it,
especially not in that niche, death game, puzzle solving sub genre.
Please stand by.
I have no idea what's going on here
Now, last but certainly not least
what else could I possibly dedicate first place to
but me, definitely the real Geoff Thew's favourite JRPG of all time:
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel.
Well, OK, really this spot goes to every Nihon Falcom game on Steam except for maybe Ys VIII
especially the Trails series because in terms of game design, world building and general storytelling,
they knock it out of the park every time.
If action RPGs are more your thing, the Ys series, Gurumin and Tokyo Xanadu are all absolutely incredible
but the Trails series has a really special place in my heart
and Trails of Cold Steel in particular is probably the most visually appealing and accessible jumping-on point of the bunch.
Plus is has the most modern anime-style setting out of any of their games aside from Tokyo Xanadu,
so anime fans will eat it right up.
Although if you're not into the whole high school thing, don't worry.
There is grand socio-political drama at play here,
and the story goes to some crazy places as the world heads toward full-on war.
There are a ton of things that make these games special, especially taken as a collective,
where their gradual world building has created one of the most well defined and rich settings in gaming, period.
They have fun, tactical combat and great music,
but the thing that makes them really stand out is the character writing.
And not just for the protagonists and party members, although they are all great
and you can stock your party with some absolutely premium waifus.
But every NPC in the Trails world has a name, and backstory, and interpersonal relationships
with the other NPCs around them that change and update every time you take a new quest.
This world lives and breathes as you travel through it and go on your own adventures,
and it keeps living and breathing between games through each sequel
and through its sister series, Trails in the Sky.
If you wanna hear more I have a whole video about why I love these games, but, yeah.
You need to buy and play Trails of Cold Steel.
I all but guarantee that you are gonna fall in love with it and be very happy to know
that there are 4 more English games in the series out so far with more coming,
plus a dozen equally great games from the same developer all just waiting to be played after you finish it.
So, I hope you enjoyed this list and I guess I'll see you in, like, a year.
If you wanna find these games and other ones that I've recommended
just click the link in the doogly-doo to go to my Steam Curator page.
And while you're down there, don't forget to hit subscribe
and leave a comment telling me what games you recommend from the Steam summer sale.
I'm sure that I've missed some really great ones.
On that note, if you're gonna be at Anime Expo and you don't wanna miss me,
then make sure that you come to my panel on Sunday the 8th at 12:30pm in live programming room 5,
where I'll be going through a live analysis of an OP that I haven't covered on the channel yet,
doing some Q and A with you guys,
and premiering a upcoming Mother's Basement video exclusively for the people who are there.
It's gonna be a good time. Hopefully I'll see ya there!
I'm Geoff Thew, professional shitbag, signing out from my mother's basement.
*Calm yet grand music that's probably from some JRPG*
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10 Must-Play Anime Games on Steam's Summer Sale

204 Folder Collection
wei published on December 14, 2018
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