Hey guys. The writing well is running a bit dry at the moment, so it’s time for a list. Here are some games which I consider to be a bit underrated, and which I think have some cool music.
Secret of Evermore
This was the first (only?) game to be made entirely by Squaresoft’s American department. It is, more or less, a Secret of Mana mod, using the same game engine. Everyone hated this because it was released here instead of Seiken Densetsu III. But it is a nifty adventure game starring a kid who watches too many B movies. Fire Eyes is a bespectacled scientist who finds herself chief of a small tribe in Evermore’s jungle. Her theme music has always stuck in my head.
Illusion of Gaia
A Zelda ripoff. You control Will, a kid with telekinetic powers, whose father is missing and who goes on some epic quest to collect the macguffinsblahblahblah. The story is pretty by the books, but there are quite a few inspired incidents and areas along the way. At one point, you get shipwrecked and find yourself floating on a piece of wood in the middle of the sea. And the game makes you feel the boredom and despair by having you do nothing but catch fish for a while. There’s that painter guy, and those vampires…
Everyone loves the music, but in general it’s viewed as a disappointing sequel to Chrono Trigger. It is true that the plot is an incoherent mess which does some annoying damage to the canon (ala Star Trek: Generations), but the El Nido archipelago is one of the most vivid video game settings, and the actual gameplay is – dare I say it? – more interesting and strategic than Trigger’s.
Legend of Mana
File under: why did I ever sell this? In this game you, uh, make the world as you explore it. It makes more sense in context…kinda…
Breath of Fire V: Dragon Quarter
Breath of Fire was Capcom’s so-so Final Fantasy knock off, until Dragon Quarter killed it off by turning it into a crazy Roguelike/Strategy RPG fusion. You need to get to the surface of the earth, and have a limited number of moves to accomplish it. The game is predicated on you not actually being able to finish it – if you die, you restart the game with carry-over experience. It even deletes your save-file during sessions in order to prevent you from simply reloading your last save. So the stakes are always pretty high, and things frequently get intense and suspenseful.
(Thanks for the recommendation, Don)