Portal:Video games/Featured article

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Featured article list[edit]

Alleyway is a video game developed by Nintendo and Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo as a global launch title for the Game Boy. It is a Breakout clone and one of the first four games developed and released for the system. The game was released first in Japan in 1989, in North America later that year, and in Europe in 1990. Alleyway was released with limited advertising, receiving moderate to low scores from reviewers who compared it to games like Arkanoid. The name Alleyway references the in-game gateway that the player's spaceship (represented as a paddle) must pass through. While Alleyway is a portable clone of Breakout, it adds several new features, including alternating stages, bonus rounds, and hazards for the player at later levels. The player's objective in Alleyway is to destroy all breakable bricks in each stage using a ball and paddle while keeping the ball from falling into the pit below, similar to that of Breakout. The paddle's speed can be adjusted by holding either the B or A button on the controller while moving the paddle, which can move only horizontally at a fixed height. At the start of each life, the player can reposition the paddle before releasing the ball and commencing gameplay.

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Turok: Dinosaur Hunter is a first-person shooter video game developed by Iguana Entertainment and published by Acclaim for the Nintendo 64 console and personal computer platforms. It was released in 1997 in North America and Europe. Turok is an adaptation of the Acclaim Comics comic book series of the same name. The player controls a Native American warrior, Turok, who must stop the evil Campaigner from conquering the universe with an ancient and powerful weapon. As Acclaim's first exclusive title for the Nintendo 64, Turok was part of a strategy to develop games internally and license merchandise; Acclaim acquired the rights to Turok when it purchased Acclaim Comics (né Valiant) in 1994. Suffering from cash flow problems and falling sales, Turok became Acclaim's best hope for a financial turnaround. Iguana pushed the Nintendo 64's graphics capabilities to its limits, and were forced to compress or cut elements to fit the game on its 8-megabyte cartridge. Bugs delayed the game's release from holiday 1996 to 1997. Critical reception of Turok was highly positive. Becoming one of the most popular games for the console on release, Turok won praise for its graphics and evolution of the genre. Complaints centered on graphical slowdowns caused by multiple enemies appearing onscreen and occasionally awkward controls. The game sold 1.5 million copies and boosted sales of the Nintendo 64. Turok spawned a video game franchise that includes six sequels.

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Chrono Cross director-producer Hiromichi Tanak

Chrono Cross is a console role-playing game developed and published by Square (now Square Enix) for the Sony PlayStation video game console. It is the sequel to Chrono Trigger, which was released in 1995 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Chrono Cross was developed primarily by director Masato Kato and producer Hiromichi Tanaka (pictured); other designers from Chrono Trigger contributed, including composer Yasunori Mitsuda. The story of Chrono Cross focuses on a teenager named Serge and a theme of parallel worlds. Faced with an alternate reality in which he died as a child, Serge endeavors to discover the truth of the two worlds' divergence. Upon its release in Japan in 1999 and in North America in 2000, Chrono Cross received high ratings and critical acclaim, earning a rare perfect 10.0 score from GameSpot. The game shipped 1.5 million copies worldwide, leading to a Greatest Hits re-release and continued life in Japan as part of the Ultimate Hits series.

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Chrono Trigger is a console role-playing game developed and published by Square for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System video game console. It was released on March 11, 1995 in Japan, and August 22, 1995 in North America. The game's story follows a group of young adventurers who travel through time to prevent a worldwide catastrophe. Chrono Trigger was developed by a group that Square called the "Dream Team", consisting of Hironobu Sakaguchi, Kazuhiko Aoki, and composer Nobuo Uematsu—known for their works on the Final Fantasy series—and Yuuji Horii and artist Akira Toriyama, developers for the Dragon Quest series. Masato Kato wrote most of the plot, while composer Yasunori Mitsuda scored most of the game before falling ill and deferring his duties to Uematsu. Nintendo Power magazine called certain aspects of Chrono Trigger revolutionary, including its multiple endings, plot-related sidequests focusing on character development, unique battle system, and detailed graphics. Square re-released a ported version by TOSE in Japan for the Sony PlayStation in 1999, later repackaged with a Final Fantasy IV port as Final Fantasy Chronicles in 2001. It has never been released in PAL territories.

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Gw donkeykong trans.png

Donkey Kong is an arcade game released by Nintendo in 1981. The game is an early example of the platform genre as the gameplay focuses on maneuvering the main character across a series of platforms while dodging obstacles. The storyline is thin but well developed for its time. In it, Mario (originally called Jumpman) must rescue a damsel in distress from a giant ape named Donkey Kong. The hero and ape would go on to be two of Nintendo's more popular characters. The game was part of a series of attempts by Nintendo to break into the North American market. Nintendo's president, Hiroshi Yamauchi, assigned the project to a first-time game designer named Shigeru Miyamoto. Drawing from a wide range of inspirations, including Popeye and King Kong, Miyamoto developed the scenario and designed the game alongside Nintendo's chief engineer, Gunpei Yokoi. The two men broke new ground by using graphics as a means of characterization, including cut scenes to advance the game's plot, and integrating multiple stages into the gameplay. Despite initial misgivings on the part of Nintendo's American staff, Donkey Kong proved a tremendous success in both North America and Japan. Nintendo licensed the game to Coleco, who developed home console versions for numerous platforms.

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1080° Snowboarding is a multiplayer snowboard racing video game developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64 and first released in Japan on February 22, 1998. The player controls one of five playable snowboarders from a third-person perspective using a combination of buttons to jump and perform tricks over eight levels. 1080° was announced on November 21, 1997 and developed over nine months; it garnered critical acclaim and won an Interactive Achievement Award from the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences. 1080° sold over a million units, and a sequel, 1080° Avalanche, was released for the Nintendo GameCube on November 28, 2003. The player controls a snowboarder in one of six modes. 1080° has two trick modes (trick attack and contest), three race modes (race, time attack, and multiplayer), a training mode, and an options mode. The objective of the game is either to arrive quickly at a level's finish line or to receive maximum points for trick combinations.

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Final Fantasy VI is a console role-playing game developed and published by Square (now Square Enix) in 1994. The game initially appeared on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and has since been ported by TOSE with minor differences to the Sony PlayStation and the Nintendo Game Boy Advance. It was first released in North America as Final Fantasy III, although the original title has been restored in later releases. The game's story focuses on a group of rebels as they seek to overthrow an imperial dictatorship. Final Fantasy VI was the first game in the series to be directed by someone other than producer and series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi; the role was filled instead by Yoshinori Kitase and Hiroyuki Itō. Originally released to significant critical acclaim, it is still regarded as a landmark of the series and of the role-playing genre. It had a significantly greater number of battle customization options than its predecessors and the largest playable cast in the Final Fantasy series to date, excluding spin-off titles. It remains widely praised for its storyline, characters and non-linear style of play.

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The Flood are fictional parasitic alien life forms in Bungie's Halo video game series. They are introduced in Halo: Combat Evolved as a second enemy faction alongside the Covenant, and return in Halo 2 and Halo 3 to fill the same role. The Flood are driven by a desire to infect any sentient life they encounter, and are depicted as such a threat that the ancient Forerunners were forced to kill themselves and all other sentient life nearly 100,000 years before the beginning of Halo in an effort to starve the Flood to death.

The Flood's design and fiction was spearheaded by Bungie artist Robert McLees, who utilized unused concepts from the earlier Bungie game Marathon 2. The ringworld Halo was stripped of many of its large creatures to make the Flood's appearance more startling. Bungie environment artist Vic DeLeon spent six months of pre-production time refining the Flood's fleshy aesthetic and designing the organic interiors of Flood-based space ships for Halo 3.

The player's discovery of the Flood in Halo: Combat Evolved is a major plot twist, and was one of the surprises reviewers noted positively upon release. Also, in Halo: Combat Evolved, Characters of Halo gets turned into one of the flood in the 2nd to last level. The Flood's return in Halo 2 and Halo 3 was less enthusiastically praised. Reaction to the Flood has varied over the years; while publications such as The Dallas Morning News found the Flood too derivative and a cliché element of science fiction, Wizard Magazine and PC World Magazine rated them among the greatest villains of all time. (more...)

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Final Fantasy VIII Fainaru Fantajī Eito (ファイナルファンタジーVIII) is a 1999 role-playing video game developed and published by Square (now Square Enix) for Sony's PlayStation and Microsoft's Windows-based personal computers as a part of the Final Fantasy series. The game's story focuses on a group of young mercenaries who are drawn into an international conflict, and seek to protect the world from a sorceress manipulating the war for her own purposes.

Thirteen weeks after its release, Final Fantasy VIII had earned more than US$50 million in sales, making it the fastest selling Final Fantasy title. Additionally, Final Fantasy VIII was voted the 22nd-best game of all time by readers of the Japanese magazine Famitsu.

Final Fantasy VIII is a departure from many traditional standards of the Final Fantasy series. It is the first game in the series to consistently use realistically proportioned characters, the first to feature a vocal piece as its theme music, and one of the only titles to deviate from the series' traditional means of increasing a character's power. In addition, it does not have a Magic Point-based system for spellcasting. (more...)

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Final Fantasy X Fainaru Fantajī Ten (ファイナルファンタジーX) is a role-playing video game developed and published by Square Enix. It is the tenth installment in the Final Fantasy series and the first game of the series to be released on the Sony PlayStation 2. Introduced in 2001, it was once among the top twenty best-selling video games of all time, and has sold more than 7.93 million copies worldwide. Set in the fantasy world of Spira, the game's story centers around a group of adventurers and their quest to defeat a rampaging force known as "Sin".

The game marks the Final Fantasy series' transition from entirely pre-rendered backdrops to fully three-dimensional areas, achieved with the PlayStation 2’s 294 MHz Emotion Engine processor. Though pre-rendered backgrounds are not entirely absent, their use has been restricted to less vibrant locations, such as building interiors. Final Fantasy X is the first in the series to feature a wide range of realistic facial expressions, as well as other technological developments in graphical effects achieved, such as variance in lighting and shadow from one section of a character's clothing to the next. Final Fantasy X is also the first in the series to feature voice-over actors, as well as the first to spawn a direct sequel, Final Fantasy X-2. (more...)

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Final Fantasy X-2 Fainaru Fantajī Ten-Tsū (ファイナルファンタジーX-2) is a role-playing video game developed and published by Square (now Square Enix) for Sony's PlayStation 2. It was released in 2003 and is the sequel to the best-selling 2001 game Final Fantasy X. The game's story follows the character Yuna from Final Fantasy X as she seeks to resolve political conflicts in the fictional world of Spira before it leads to war.

Final Fantasy X-2 set several precedents in the Final Fantasy series aside from being the first direct sequel in video game form and the second sequel in the franchise, after the anime Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals. It was the first game in the series to feature only three playable characters, an all-female main cast, and early access to most of the game's locations. Additionally, it featured a variation of the character classes system—one of the series' classic gameplay concepts—and is one of the few games in the series to feature multiple endings.

The game was positively received by critics and commercially successful. After nine months of being released in Japan, it sold a million copies in North America, and approximately four million copies worldwide. Final Fantasy X-2 was voted as the 32nd best game of all time by the readers of Famitsu. (more...)

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School Rumble (スクールランブル, Sukūru Ranburu) is a Japanese Shōnen manga series written and illustrated by Jin Kobayashi. First serialized in Weekly Shōnen Magazine from October 22, 2002 to July 23, 2008, all 345 chapters were later collected in 22 tankōbon volumes by Kodansha. Shōnen Magazine Special published a sequel, School Rumble Z, monthly from August 20, 2008 to May 20, 2009. A romance comedy centering on relationships between Japanese high school students, School Rumble focuses on a love triangle involving the series' two protagonists, Kenji Harima and Tenma Tsukamoto, and one of their classmates, Oji Karasuma. The series often discards realism in favor of comedic effect.

School Rumble's popularity has resulted in its adaption into multiple forms of media. TV Tokyo broadcast a 26-episode anime program between October 2004 and April 2005. Three video games have been produced—two for the PlayStation 2 in July 2005 and July 2006, and one for the PlayStation Portable in 2005. Two light novels written by Hiroko Tokita and illustrated by Jin Kobayashi were published in April 2004 and December 2007; four official guidebooks written and illustrated by Jin Kobayashi have also been released. The manga was well received by Japanese-language readers; several volumes have appeared in the top manga sales charts. The North American English translations were less popular, but still ranked several times in the top 100 as well as ranking 145th for overall manga series sales in 2008. Critics of the English-language translation have been positive overall, praising Kobayashi for his art style and overall use of humor. However, the manga has received some criticism, mostly centered around some of the jokes and repetitive plot. (more...)

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Halo: Combat Evolved, or simply Halo, is a science fiction first-person shooter video game developed by Bungie Studios, and first game of the Halo series. It was released on November 15, 2001 as a launch title for the Xbox gaming system, and is considered that platform's "killer application". With more than six million copies sold worldwide, Halo is second only to its sequel, Halo 2, in sales for the Xbox video game console. The game was later ported to Windows and Mac OS.

The titular Halo is an enormous, ring-shaped artificial space habitat, and, according to Bungie Studios, has a diameter of either ten thousand kilometers or miles. Halo sits at a lagrange point between a planet and its moon; this arrangement gives the station rotational gravity. In the game, the player assumes the role of the Master Chief, a cyborg "super-soldier" with battle armor. The Master Chief is accompanied by Cortana, an artificial intelligence who occupies the neural implant between the battle armor and the Master Chief's brain. Players battle various types of aliens on foot or in vehicles as they attempt to uncover the secrets of the Halo. The game has been called "easy to learn," and has been praised for its "engaging story". (more...)

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Katamari Damacy (塊魂, Katamari Damashii) is a third-person puzzle-action video game that is published and developed by Namco for the PlayStation 2 video game console. It was first released in Japan, and then later in South Korea and North America. The game resulted from a school project from the Namco Digital Hollywood Game Laboratory, and was developed for less than $1 million. In designing Katamari Damacy, the development team aimed to maintain four key points: novelty, ease of understanding, enjoyment, and humor.

The game's plot concerns a diminutive prince on a mission to rebuild the stars, constellations and Moon, which his father, the King of All Cosmos, has accidentally destroyed. This is achieved by rolling a magical, highly adhesive ball called a katamari around various locations, collecting increasingly larger objects, ranging from thumbtacks to people to mountains, until the ball has grown large enough to become a star. Katamari Damacy's story, characters, and settings are bizarre and heavily stylized, rarely attempting any semblance of realism, though the brands and items used are based on those current in Japan during the game's production. Overall, Katamari Damacy was well received in Japan and North America. (more...)

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This geometrical symbol is used to represent the Triforce, an important element in the game's narrative.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (ゼルダの伝説: ムジュラの仮面, Zeruda no Densetsu: Majura no Kamen) is an action-adventure video game developed by Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64 video game console. It was released in Japan on April 27, 2000, in North America on October 26, 2000, and in Europe on November 17, 2000. The game sold approximately 314,000 copies during its first week of sales in Japan and went on to sell three million copies total. It is known to be the darkest of the Zelda video game series.

Majora's Mask is the sixth installment in The Legend of Zelda video game series, which began with The Legend of Zelda in 1986. It is the second Legend of Zelda video game with 3D graphics. Majora's Mask features a broader and darker story as well as deeper gameplay than its predecessor, Ocarina of Time. The protagonist of the series, Link, is placed in the land of Termina, rather than Hyrule, where most of the series is set. A mysterious mask-wearing imp known as the Skull Kid has persuaded the moon to abandon its orbit and crash into Termina. Link uses time travel to repeatedly live the three days prior to the crash in an attempt to prevent it. (more...)

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This geometrical symbol is used to represent the Triforce, an important element in the game's narrative.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, known in Japan as Zelda no Densetsu: Kaze no Takt (ゼルダの伝説 風のタクト, Zeruda no Densetsu Kaze no Takuto, lit. "The Legend of Zelda: Baton of Wind"), is an action-adventure game and the tenth installment in The Legend of Zelda series. It was released for the Nintendo GameCube in Japan on December 13, 2002, in North America on March 24, 2003, in Europe on May 3, 2003, and in Australia on May 7, 2003. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass for the Nintendo DS is the direct sequel to The Wind Waker.

The game is set on a group of islands in a vast sea—a first for the series. What lies beneath this sea are the ruins of the kingdom of Hyrule from Ocarina of Time. The player controls Link, the protagonist of the Zelda series. He struggles against his nemesis, Ganondorf, for control of a sacred relic known as the Triforce. Link spends a significant portion of the game sailing, traveling between islands, and traversing through dungeons and temples to gain the power necessary to defeat Ganondorf. He also spends time trying to find his little sister. The Wind Waker follows in the footsteps of Ocarina of Time, retaining the basic gameplay and control system from the Nintendo 64 title. (more...)

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Perfect Dark is a first-person shooter video game for the Nintendo 64 game console. The game was developed by Rare, creators of the multimillion-selling GoldenEye 007, an earlier first-person shooter with which Perfect Dark shares many gameplay features. The game was first released in Canada and the United States in May 2000, where it was greeted with critical acclaim; PAL and NTSC-J releases followed soon afterwards.

The game features a single-player mode consisting of seventeen missions in which the player assumes the role of special agent Joanna Dark, an operative for the fictional Carrington Institute, as she attempts to foil a conspiracy by rival corporation dataDyne. It also includes a range of multiplayer options, including co-operative and "counter-operative" modes in addition to traditional deathmatch settings. Technically, it is one of the most advanced games developed for the N64, with optional high-resolution graphics and Dolby Surround Sound.

In September 2000, a separate game starring agent Joanna Dark, also titled Perfect Dark, was released for the Game Boy Color. Although set in the same universe, it follows a separate storyline. With the use of the Transfer Pak, the Game Boy game allows certain features within the Nintendo 64 version to be unlocked. (more...)

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Shadow of the Colossus, released in Japan as Wander to Kyozō (ワンダと巨像, Wanda to Kyozō, Wander and the Colossus), is a Japanese-developed action-adventure video game developed and published by Sony Computer Entertainment (SCEI) for the PlayStation 2. The game was released in North America and Japan in October 2005 and PAL territories in February 2006. The game was created by SCEI's International Production Studio 1, the same development team responsible for the cult hit Ico.

The game focuses on a young man named Wander who must travel across a vast expanse on horseback and defeat sixteen giants, beings collectively known as colossi, to restore the life of a girl. The game is unusual within the action-adventure genre in that there are no towns or dungeons to explore, no characters with which to interact, and no enemies to defeat, other than the colossi. Shadow of the Colossus has been described as a puzzle game, as each colossus' weakness must be identified and exploited before it can be defeated.

Shadow of the Colossus was well-received by the media and met with strong sales when released. The game's soundtrack was widely praised and referred to as a one of its stronger aspects. It also won several awards for its audio, design, and overall quality. (more...)

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StarCraft is a military science fiction real-time strategy video game developed by Blizzard Entertainment. The first game of the StarCraft series, it was released for Microsoft Windows on 31 March 1998. With more than nine million copies sold worldwide as of 21 May 2007, it is one of the best-selling games for the personal computer. A Mac OS version was released in March 1999, and a Nintendo 64 adaptation co-developed with Mass Media Interactive Entertainment was released on 13 June 2000. With its storyline adapted and expanded through a series of novels, StarCraft has three expansion packs available and a sequel in development.

Set in the 26th century, the game revolves around three species—the Terrans, humans exiled from Earth; the Zerg, a race of insectoids obsessed with assimilating other races in pursuit of genetic perfection; and the Protoss, a humanoid species with advanced technology and psionic abilities attempting to preserve their civilization from the Zerg—fighting for dominance in a distant part of the Milky Way galaxy. The game has been praised for pioneering the use of unique factions in real-time strategy gameplay and for a "compelling" story. Many of the industry's journalists have praised StarCraft as one of the best and most important video games of all time, and for having raised the bar for developing real-time strategy games. (more...)

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Empires: Dawn of the Modern World is a history-based real-time strategy computer game developed by Stainless Steel Studios and released on October 21, 2003. Considered an unofficial sequel to Empire Earth, the game requires players to collect resources to build an empire, train military units, and conquer opposing civilizations.

Based on a slightly compressed version of world history, Empires covers five eras, from the Medieval Age to World War II. The game features seven civilizations: England, the Franks, Korea and China are playable from the Medieval Age to the Imperial Age; and the United States, Russia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom are playable in the World War I and World War II ages. The game attracted positive critical reaction.

A real-time strategy game, Empires requires players to command armies and combat opponents from a complete 3D perspective to achieve victory. Matches end when all but one player have resigned or been defeated; the last player standing is awarded the victory. To win, players must develop and micromanage balanced and organized armies. The game features land, sea and air units, whose availabilities depend on the selected era. These units have strengths and weaknesses in a format similar to Rock, Paper, Scissors; each type of unit affects other units differently. (more...)

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Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None is a 2005 point-and-click adventure game developed by AWE Productions and published by The Adventure Company for the PC. The game is the first in The Adventure Company's Agatha Christie series. The story is focused on a man's journey to the fictional Shipwreck Island, off the coast of Devon, with ten others, and the events that unfold there.

And Then There Were None retains the plot elements of Agatha Christie's novel of the same name, with the sole difference being the conclusion. In order to further the connection between the game and its source material, Christie's novel is included in the North American release of the game. Several reviewers of And Then There Were None have harshly criticized its character designs and graphics as being archaic and outdated, whereas others have praised aspects of the game such as character dialogue and an immersive story. Reactions to the game were mixed, with many reviewers polarized in their opinions of the game, calling it either a good adaptation of the novel, or an extremely poor adventure game. And Then There Were None is followed by a sequel, Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express. (more...)

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Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon (がんばれゴエモン~ネオ桃山幕府のおどり~, Ganbare Goemon ~New Dance of the Peach Mountain Shogunate~) is a video game released by Konami for the Nintendo 64 on August 7, 1997 in Japan and April 16, 1998 in North America. It is the fifth entry in the Ganbare Goemon series and the second Goemon game released in North America, following Legend of the Mystical Ninja. Featuring elements of platform and action-adventure games, Mystical Ninja is a hybrid of Super Mario 64 and the Legend of Zelda series.

The story follows Goemon as he struggles to prevent the Peach Mountain Shoguns gang from turning Japan into a fine arts theatre. The journey takes Goemon through three cinematic musical features and battles between gigantic robots. Like other Ganbare Goemon games, it is peppered with surrealist humor and anachronisms.

Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon was received well, selling nearly 200,000 copies worldwide. Reviewers praised its graphics, gameplay, and humorous plot. Critics considered the soundtrack and musical numbers engaging and memorable. Conversely, Mystical Ninja was criticized for localization issues, unintuitive camera control, and dull stretches of travel through Japan. It was followed by Goemon's Great Adventure in 1999 and Goemon Mononoke Sugoroku in 2000. (more...)

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Halo Wars is a real-time strategy (RTS) video game developed by Ensemble Studios and published by Microsoft Game Studios for the Xbox 360 video game console. It was released in Japan and Australia on February 26, 2009, in PAL territories on February 27, and in North America on March 3. The game is set in the science fictional universe of the Halo series, 20 years before the events of Halo: Combat Evolved. The player leads human soldiers aboard the warship Spirit of Fire in an effort to stop an ancient fleet of ships from falling into the hands of the genocidal alien Covenant.

Halo Wars was officially unveiled at the X06 Xbox show in 2006. Ensemble designed the game specifically for the Xbox 360 controller, in an attempt to circumvent issues present in previous console RTS. Ensemble was closed by Microsoft before the game's release, but Robot Entertainment was quickly founded by many of Ensemble's former employees; this new company continued to support Halo Wars with updates and downloadable content. Halo Wars received generally positive reviews. Reviewers lauded the game's pre-rendered cinematics, attention to detail in replicating the Halo universe, and intuitive control scheme. (more...)

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Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express is a 2006 point-and-click adventure game developed by AWE Productions and published by The Adventure Company for Microsoft Windows. The game is the second installment in The Adventure Company's Agatha Christie series, and is the sequel to Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None. The story follows an amateur sleuth, Antoinette Marceau, and her investigation of a murder with twelve possible suspects aboard the Orient Express, which has been blocked by an avalanche in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia during 1934. She is aided by famous detective Hercule Poirot.

Murder on the Orient Express retains the main plot elements of Agatha Christie's novel of the same name. An additional ending is presented in the game which differs from the conclusion of Christie's novel. As with And Then There Were None, Christie's novel has been bundled with the game. Some reviewers of Murder on the Orient Express criticized the game because of the repetitive nature of tasks the player must complete, and also complained about the inefficient and cumbersome inventory system. Others have praised it for improved graphics compared to And Then There Were None, as well as convincing voice acting and audio effects. (more...)

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Age of Mythology (commonly abbreviated as AoM), is a mythology-based, real-time strategy computer game developed by Ensemble Studios and published by Microsoft Game Studios. It was released on November 1, 2002 in North America and a week later in Europe.

Age of Mythology focuses less on historical accuracy than previous games in the Age of Empires series, but instead centers upon the myths and legends of the Greeks, Egyptians, and Norse. However, many gameplay elements are similar to the Age of Empires series, and thus can be considered a spin-off. Its campaign follows an Atlantean admiral, Arkantos, who is forced to travel through the lands of the three civilizations in the game, hunting for a cyclops who has turned Poseidon against Atlantis.

Age of Mythology was critically successful, and went platinum four months after its release, selling over one million units. The game's critical reception was generally positive; it scored 89% on Game Rankings and Metacritic. Gameplay elements were received positively, though some reviewers were critical of the campaign's length and issues of repetitiveness. Like many other real-time strategy games, Age of Mythology is based on building towns, gathering resources, creating armies, and ultimately destroying enemy units and buildings.(more..)

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Frank Klepacki on an insert photo of his Morphscape album.jpg

Frank Klepacki (born May 25, 1974) is an American musician, video game music composer and sound director best known for his work on the Command & Conquer series. Having learned to play drums as a child, he joined Westwood Studios as a composer when he was only 17 years old. He scored several games there, including the Lands of Lore series, the Dune games, the The Legend of Kyrandia series, Blade Runner, and the Command & Conquer series. His work in Command & Conquer: Red Alert won two awards.

He lives in Las Vegas, where he has shaped a solo career and played and produced for several local bands. His personal and band work touches upon several genres, including orchestral, rock music, hip hop music, soul music, and funk. He has dubbed the style of music he writes as "Rocktronic". His work has appeared in various media, including the Spike TV program The Ultimate Fighter.

Klepacki is currently the audio director of Petroglyph games, where he scored Star Wars: Empire at War. Frank Klepacki was contacted to score Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars, but was too busy with Petroglyph to take the project, and declined to mention the offer. (more...)

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Ninja Gaiden is a side-scrolling platforming video game. It was developed and published by Tecmo for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES); its development and release coincided with the beat 'em up arcade version of the same name. It was released in December 1988 (1988-12) in Japan, in March 1989 in North America, and in September 1991 (1991-09) in Europe. It was ported to the PC Engine in Japan in 1992, to the Super NES as part of the Ninja Gaiden Trilogy compilation. The story follows a ninja named Ryu Hayabusa as he journeys to America to avenge his murdered father. There, he learns that a person named "the Jaquio" plans to take control of the world by unleashing an ancient demon through the power contained in two statues. Featuring platforming gameplay similar to Castlevania and the NES version of Batman, players control Ryu through six "Acts" that comprise 20 levels; they encounter enemies that must be dispatched with Ryu's katana and other secondary weapons.

Ninja Gaiden has been renowned for its elaborate story and usage of anime-like cinematic cutscenes. It received extensive coverage and won several awards from video gaming magazines, while criticism focused on its high and unforgiving difficulty, particularly in the later levels. It has been described as one of the best arcade-style games, and the best ninja-related game, released for the NES. (more...)

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Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (commonly abbreviated to MGS3) is a stealth action video game directed by Hideo Kojima. Snake Eater was developed by Konami Computer Entertainment Japan and published by Konami for the PlayStation 2, and was released on November 17, 2004 in North America; December 16, 2004 in Japan; March 4, 2005 in Europe; and on March 17, 2005 in Australia. The game, which serves as a prequel to the entire Metal Gear series, was followed by a direct sequel titled Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops.

Set in Cold War-era Russia, the story centers on FOX operative Naked Snake as he attempts to rescue a weapons designer and sabotage an experimental superweapon. While previous games were set in a primarily urban environment, Snake Eater adopts a 1960s Soviet jungle setting, with the high tech, near-future trappings of previous Metal Gear Solid games being replaced with the wilderness. While the setting has changed, the game's focus remains stealth and infiltration, while retaining the series' self-referential, fourth wall-breaking sense of humor. Snake Eater's story is told through numerous cut scenes and radio conversations.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater was well-received publicly and critically, selling 3.6 million copies worldwide and scoring an average of 91% on the review aggregate sites Game Rankings and Metacritic. (more..)

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Wii console.png

The Wii (pronounced as the pronoun we, IPA: [wiː]) is the fifth home video game console released by Nintendo. The console was previously known by its code name of Revolution and is the direct successor to the Nintendo GameCube. Nintendo states that its console targets a broader demographic than that of Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3, but it competes with both as part of the seventh generation of gaming systems.

A distinguishing feature of the console is its wireless controller, the Wii Remote, which can be used as a handheld pointing device and can detect motion and rotation in three dimensions. Another is WiiConnect24, which enables it to receive messages and updates over the Internet while in standby mode.

Nintendo first mentioned the console at the 2004 E3 press conference and later unveiled the system at the 2005 E3. Satoru Iwata revealed a prototype of the controller at the September 2005 Tokyo Game Show. In the 2006 E3, the console won the first of several awards. By December 8, 2006, it completed its launch in four key markets. (more...)

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4X games are a genre of strategy video game where players control an empire and "eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate." This term was first used by Alan Emrich in his September 1993 preview of Master of Orion for Computer Gaming World. Since 1993, other game commentators have adopted "4X" to describe any game with similar design.

4X games are noted for their deep, complex gameplay. These games emphasize economic and technological development, as well as a range of non-military routes to supremacy. Managing the details of a large empire can cause 4X games to take longer to complete than other strategy games. Since the amount of micromanagement required to sustain an empire scales as the empire grows, 4X games are sometimes criticized for becoming tedious near the end of the game. As a result, several games have attempted to address these criticisms by reducing micromanagement.

The earliest 4X games borrowed ideas from board games and 1970s text-based computer games. The first 4X games were turn-based, but real-time 4X games have been released. Many 4X games were published in the mid-1990s, but they were outsold by other strategy games by the late 1990s. In the new millennium, several 4X releases have been critically and commercially successful. (more.. )

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GameFAQs is a website that hosts FAQs and walkthroughs for video games. It was created in November 1995 by Jeff "CJayC" Veasey and has been owned by CNET Networks since May 2003. The site has a database of video game information, cheat codes, reviews, game saves, and screenshots, much of which is submitted by volunteer contributors. The systems covered include the 8-bit Atari platform through modern consoles, as well as computer games. Submissions made to the site are reviewed by the site's current editor, Allen "SBAllen" Tyner.

GameFAQs hosts an active message board community, which has a separate discussion board for each game in the site's database, along with a variety of other boards. Since 2003, most of the game-specific boards have been shared between GameFAQs and GameSpot, another CNET website. The site also runs a daily opinion poll and tournament contests. GameFAQs has been positively reviewed by The Guardian and Entertainment Weekly. As of 2008, GameFAQs.com is one of the 300 highest-trafficked English-language websites according to Alexa.

GameFAQs was started as the Video Game FAQ Archive on November 5, 1995. Hosted on America Online, it originally served as a mirror of Andy Eddy's FTP FAQ archive. The initial version of the site had approximately 10 pages and 100 FAQs. (more...)

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Rise and Fall: Civilizations at War is a real-time strategy game developed by both Stainless Steel Studios and Midway Games; it was released on June 12, 2006. The game incorporates segments of third-person shooter gameplay, allowing the player to temporarily control a "hero". Rise and Fall is based in the first millennium BC, and features four playable civilizations: Persia, Greece, Egypt, and Rome. The game includes over eighty unique military units, as well as eight hero units—of which only one may be purchased during a game. In Rise and Fall, there are two campaigns: one following the conquests of Alexander the Great; the other, the liberation of Egypt by Cleopatra.

During the game's development, Stainless Steel Studios closed. They abandoned all their games, including Rise and Fall, which was near finishing. Rick Goodman, founder of Stainless Steel and the lead designer of Rise and Fall, reported that Midway stopped funding the game when its release date was pushed back several months. Midway then decided to finish the game themselves. Reviews of the game were mixed; it won two awards, and was commercially successful in the United Kingdom. (more...)

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F-Zero GX (エフゼロ ジーエックス, Efu Zero Jī Ekkusu, F-ZERO GX) is a futuristic racing video game for the Nintendo GameCube console. Developed by Sega's Amusement Vision department, it was released in Japan, Europe, and North America in 2003. Its arcade counterpart, F-Zero AX, utilizes hardware conceived from a business alliance between Nintendo, Namco, and Sega. F-Zero GX runs on an enhanced version of the engine that powered Super Monkey Ball. The game is considered as one of the best racers of its time and the greatest racer on the GameCube platform.

F-Zero GX is the fifth released installment in the F-Zero series and the successor to F-Zero X. The game continues the series' difficult, high-speed racing style, retaining the basic gameplay and control system from the Nintendo 64 title. A heavy emphasis is placed on track memorization and reflexes, which aids in completing the title. GX introduces a "story mode" element, where the player walks in the footsteps of Captain Falcon through nine chapters while completing various missions. Overall, the game was well-received by critics for its visuals, intense action, high sense of speed and track design. Approximately thirty pilots race on massive circuits inside plasma-powered hovercars in an intergalactic Grand Prix at speeds that can exceed over 2000 km/h. (more...)

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Flower is a PlayStation 3 video game. It was developed by Thatgamecompany, designed by Jenova Chen and Nicholas Clark, and announced at the 2007 Tokyo Game Show. Flower was released on February 12, 2009, via the PlayStation Network. The game was intended as a "spiritual successor" to Flow, a previous title by Chen and Thatgamecompany. In it, the player controls the wind, blowing a flower petal through the air using the movement of the game controller. Flying close to flowers results in the player's petal being followed by other flower petals. Approaching flowers may also have side-effects on the game world, such as bringing vibrant color to previously dead fields or activating stationary windmills. The game features no text or dialogue, forming a narrative arc primarily through visual representation and emotional cues.

Flower was primarily intended to arouse positive emotions in the player, rather than to be a challenging and "fun" game. This focus was sparked by Chen, who felt that the primary purpose of entertainment products like video games was the feelings that they evoked in the audience, and that the emotional range of most games was very limited. The team viewed their efforts as creating a work of art, removing gameplay elements and mechanics that were not provoking the desired response in the players. The music, composed by Vincent Diamante, dynamically responds to the player's actions and corresponds with the emotional cues in the game. Flower was a critical success, to the surprise of the developers. Reviewers praised the game's music, visuals, and gameplay, calling it a unique and compelling emotional experience. It was named the "best independent game of 2009" at the Spike Video Game Awards, and won the "Casual Game of the Year" award by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences. (more...)

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Ōkami (大神, lit. "great god", though also a pun for "wolf") is an action-adventure video game developed by Clover Studio and distributed by Capcom. It was released for the Sony PlayStation 2 video game console in 2006 in Japan and North America, and 2007 in Europe and Australia. Despite the closure of Clover Studios a few months after the 2006 PlayStation 2 release, a port for Nintendo's Wii console was produced by Ready at Dawn and Capcom, which was released in North America on April 15, 2008, and was released in Europe in June 2008.

Set in an unspecified period of classical Japanese history, Ōkami combines several Japanese myths, legends and folklore to tell the story of how the land was saved from darkness by the Shinto sun goddess, named Amaterasu, who has taken the form of a white wolf. It features a distinct sumi-e-inspired cel-shaded visual style and the Celestial Brush, a gesture-system to perform miracles.

Ōkami was one of the last few PlayStation 2 games selected for release prior to the release of the PlayStation 3. Although it suffered from poor sales, Ōkami earned high acclaim from reviewers and earned, among other awards, the title of IGN's 2006 Game of the Year. (more...)

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BioShock is a first-person shooter video game by 2K Boston/2K Australia—previously known as Irrational Games—designed by Ken Levine. The game is available for the Windows operating system, and the Xbox 360 video game console. It was released on August 21, 2007, in North America, and three days later in Europe and Australia. On May 28, 2008, 2K Games confirmed that BioShock is in development for the PlayStation 3 and will be released in October 2008 and is being developed by the newest 2K Games studio, 2K Marin. A version of the game for mobile platforms is currently being developed by IG Fun.

Set in an alternative history 1960, the game places the player in the role of a plane crash survivor named Jack, who must explore the underwater Objectivist-dystopian city of Rapture, and survive attacks by the mutated beings and mechanical drones that populate it. The game incorporates elements found in role-playing video game and survival horror games, and is described by the developers and Levine as a "spiritual successor" to their previous titles in the System Shock series. The game received overwhelmingly positive reviews, and ranks as the thirteenth best video game on Game Rankings based on reviews from critics. (more...)

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Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (キャッスルヴァニア ~暁月の円舞曲~, Kyassuruvania ~Akatsuki no Menuetto~, lit. "Castlevania ~Minuet of Dawn~") is an action-adventure game developed and published by Konami for the Game Boy Advance. It is part of Konami's Castlevania video game series, and the third installment of the series on the Game Boy Advance. It was released in North America on May 6, 2003 and released in Japan on May 8, 2003. Although the game sold poorly in Japan, selling only 27,000 units nearly one month after its release, it was commercially successful in the United States, with more than 158,000 units sold three months following its release.

The storyline of Aria of Sorrow is part of the fictional universe of the Castlevania series, which features the struggle between the vampire hunters of the Belmont clan and the vampire lord Dracula. The game is set in the year 2035, where Dracula has been defeated, and his powers are to be passed onto his reincarnation. The game's plot follows the adventures of Soma Cruz, a high school student who is granted powers as a result of Dracula's death, and his battle against those who wish to acquire Dracula's powers. Aria of Sorrow takes many elements from other Castlevania games, including Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance, which was in production at the same time as Aria of Sorrow. (more...)

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Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow (悪魔城ドラキュラ 蒼月の十字架, Akumajō Dorakyura Sōgetsu no Jūjika, lit. "Demon Castle Dracula: Cross of the Blue Moon") is an action-adventure game developed and published by Konami. It is part of Konami's best-selling Castlevania video game series and the first Castlevania game to be released on the Nintendo DS. It is the sequel to Konami's Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow and incorporates many elements from its predecessor. The game was commercially successful, selling more than 15,000 units in its first week in Japan and 164,000 units in the United States three months after its initial release.

The game takes place in the fictional universe of the Castlevania series, where the vampire hunters of the Belmont clan wage an endless conflict against the immortal vampire Dracula. Dawn of Sorrow continues the storyline found in Aria of Sorrow, in which Dracula has been completely defeated, and his powers assumed by his reincarnation, Soma Cruz. With the help of his allies, Soma avoids becoming the new dark lord. A cult forms to bring forth a new dark lord by killing Soma. Soma and his allies move to ensure that a new dark lord is not created.

Dawn of Sorrow incorporates many features from previous Castlevania games: the combination of elements from platform games and role-playing video games, the "Tactical Soul" system featured in Aria of Sorrow, and a dark, gothic atmosphere. (more...)

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Devil May Cry (frequently abbreviated as DMC) is a hack and slash action game developed by Capcom Production Studio 4 and published by Capcom in 2001 for the PlayStation 2. Although the first game in the Devil May Cry series, the events in the game are second in the series storyline's chronological order, taking place after events in Devil May Cry 3, and before Devil May Cry 4 and Devil May Cry 2.

Set in modern times on the fictional Mallet Island, the story centers on the characters Dante and Trish and their quest to confront the demon lord Mundus. The story is told primarily through a mixture of cutscenes, which use the game's engine and several pre-rendered full motion videos.

Devil May Cry received prominent coverage in the video game media, high overall scores from professional reviewers, and has sold more than two million copies. The gameplay consists of levels called "missions", where players must fight numerous enemies, perform platforming tasks, and occasionally solve puzzles to progress through the story. The player's performance in each mission is given a letter grade of A, B, C, or D, with an additional top grade of S. (more...)

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Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening released in Japan as Devil May Cry 3, is an action game that was developed by Capcom Production Studio 1 and published by Capcom in 2005 for the PlayStation 2 (also ported to PC in 2006). The game is a prequel to the original Devil May Cry, and is the first game in the series storyline's chronological order.

Set in modern times in an enchanted tower named Temen-ni-gru, the story centers on the dysfunctional relationship between Dante and his brother Vergil. The events of the game take place just as Dante has opened up the Devil May Cry agency, and before Dante's demonic heritage has reached its full potential. The story is told primarily through a mixture of cutscenes using the game's engine with several pre-rendered full motion videos.

Upon release, Devil May Cry 3 was widely criticized for its high level of difficulty, but was praised for improvements over its predecessor, and a return to the challenging gameplay of Devil May Cry. A manga prequel to the game was first published in Japan in 2005. (more...)

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Crazy Taxi is a series of score attack racing video games that was developed by Hitmaker and published by Sega. The first game appeared in arcades in 1999 and was very successful, prompting Sega to port the arcade version to their Dreamcast console in 2000. It was the fifth best-selling game on the Dreamcast, selling over a million copies. The game was later ported to the PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, and PC with sequels also appearing on the Xbox, Game Boy Advance, and PlayStation Portable systems.

Each game has the player assume the role of a taxi driver who must accumulate money by delivering passengers to their destinations in the fastest time possible, earning tips by performing "crazy stunts" before the time runs out. The franchise has been recognized for its innovative gameplay design which is easy to learn but difficult to master, its use of in-game advertising, and its soundtrack music provided by the bands The Offspring and Bad Religion. The core gameplay mechanic has been patented by Sega, leading to at least one lawsuit over similar gameplay in The Simpsons: Road Rage, which has since been settled out of court. (more...)

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Final Fantasy (ファイナルファンタジー, Fainaru Fantajī) is a media franchise created by Hironobu Sakaguchi, and is developed and owned by Square Enix (formerly Squaresoft). The franchise centers on a series of role-playing video games, but includes motion pictures, anime, printed media, and other merchandise. The series began in 1987 as an eponymous video game developed to save Square from bankruptcy; the game was a success and spawned sequels. The video game series has since branched into other genres and platforms, such as tactical RPGs, portable games, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, and games for mobile phones.

Although most Final Fantasy installments are independent stories, they feature common elements that define the franchise. Such recurring elements include plot themes, character names, and game mechanics. Plots center on a group of heroes battling a great evil while exploring the characters' internal struggles and relationships. Character names are often derived from the history, languages, and mythologies of cultures worldwide. The series has been commercially and critically successful; it is Square Enix's best selling series, with more than 85 million units sold, and the fifth-best-selling video game franchise. (more...)

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Kingdom Hearts (キングダムハーツ, Kingudamu Hātsu) is a series of action role-playing games developed and published by Square Enix (formerly Square). It is the result of a collaboration between Square and Disney Interactive Studios and is under the direction of Tetsuya Nomura, a longtime Square character designer. Kingdom Hearts is a crossover of various Disney settings based in a universe made specifically for the series. In addition, it has an all-star voice cast which includes many of the Disney characters' official voice actors. Characters from Square Enix's Final Fantasy series make appearances and interact with the player and Disney characters. The series centers around the main character Sora's search for his friends and his encounters with Disney and Final Fantasy characters on their worlds.

The Kingdom Hearts series currently consists of four games across different video game platforms, and future titles are planned. Most of the games in the series have been both critically acclaimed and commercially successful, though each installment has seen varying levels of success. As of September 2007, the Kingdom Hearts series has shipped over eleven million copies worldwide, with 2.0 million copies in PAL regions, 3.0 million copies in Japan, and 5.6 million copies in North America. (more...)

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The Mana series, known in Japan as Seiken Densetsu (聖剣伝説, lit. "Holy Sword Legend"), is a role-playing video game series from Square Enix, created by Koichi Ishii. The series began as a handheld side story to Square's flagship franchise Final Fantasy, although most Final Fantasy-inspired elements were subsequently dropped, starting with the second installment, Secret of Mana. It has since grown to include games of various genres within the fictional world of Mana, with recurring stories involving a world tree, its associated holy sword, and the fight against forces that would steal their power. Several character designs, creatures, and musical themes reappear frequently.

In 2003, the series comprised five games; since 2006, it has experienced a revival through the World of Mana campaign, with five new games released in the span of one year. As of 2008, the Mana series comprises eight console games and two mobile games, in addition to four manga and one novelization. The Mana series reception has been very uneven, with Secret of Mana earning wide acclaim, such as being rated 78th in IGN's yearly "Top 100 Games of All Time", and being highly praised for its musical score, while the games from the World of Mana series have been rated considerably lower. (more...)

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The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, commonly referred to as Morrowind, is a single player role-playing video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios, and published by Bethesda Softworks and Ubisoft. It is the third installment in The Elder Scrolls series of games. It was released in North America in 2002 for Microsoft Windows and the Xbox. Well-received publicly and critically, selling over four million copies and winning more than 60 awards, including Game of the Year> Morrowind holds an average review score of 89% from both Metacritic and Game Rankings. The game spawned two expansion packs for the PC: Tribunal and Bloodmoon. Both were eventually repackaged into a full set containing all three, Morrowind: Game of the Year Edition, which shipped on October 30, 2003 for both PC and Xbox.

The story takes place on Vvardenfell, an island in the Dunmer province of Morrowind, which lies in the empire of Tamriel and is far from the more civilized lands to the west and south that typified Daggerfall and Arena. The central quests concern the deity Dagoth Ur, housed within the volcanic Red Mountain, who seeks to gain power and break Morrowind free from Imperial reign. (more...)

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ToeJam & Earl is an action game developed by Johnson Voorsanger Productions and published by Sega for the Mega Drive. Released in 1991, it centers on the titular ToeJam and Earl—extraterrestrials who have crash-landed on Earth—as they attempt to escape the planet. Players assume the role of either character and collect pieces of their wrecked spacecraft. ToeJam & Earl's design was heavily influenced by the role-playing video game Rogue, and took from it such features as the random generation of levels and items. It references and parodies 1990s urban culture and is set to a funk soundtrack.

The game was positively received by critics, who praised its originality, soundtrack, humor and two-player cooperative mode. It attained sleeper hit status despite low initial sales, and its protagonists were used as mascots by Sega. ToeJam & Earl was followed by two sequels: ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron and ToeJam & Earl III: Mission to Earth, released for the Mega Drive and Xbox, respectively. The sequels' commercial and critical success was mixed; research has suggested that series fans favor the original ToeJam & Earl. The game again received positive reviews in 2006 when re-released for the Wii's Virtual Console, but certain critics believed that it had become dated. (more...)

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Final Fantasy IX (ファイナルファンタジーIX, Fainaru Fantajī Nain) is a role-playing video game developed and published by Square (now Square Enix), and the ninth installment in the Final Fantasy series. It was released in 2000, and is the third and last numbered Final Fantasy game for Sony's PlayStation.

Set in a fantasy world of Gaia, Final Fantasy IX's plot centers on a war between several nations, sparked by an ambitious queen. Players follow a young thief named Zidane Tribal, who joins with several others to defeat the Queen. The plot shifts, however, when the characters realize that the Queen is a puppet for an arms dealer named Kuja.

Final Fantasy IX was developed alongside Final Fantasy VIII, but took a different path to return to the series' roots with a more traditional fantasy setting. Consequently, Final Fantasy IX was influenced heavily by the original Final Fantasy, and features allusions to other Final Fantasy games. Final Fantasy IX introduced new features to the series, such as the Active Time Event, Mognet, and a revamped equipment and skill system. The game has been subject to generally positive reviews and some consider it the best game in the series. (more...)

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Final Fantasy XI (ファイナルファンタジーXI, Fainaru Fantajī Irebun), also known as Final Fantasy XI: Online, is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) developed and published by Square (later Square Enix) as part of the Final Fantasy series. It was released in Japan on Sony's PlayStation 2 on May 16, 2002, and was released for Microsoft's Windows-based personal computers in November 2002. It was localized and released for the North American market on October 28, 2003, and for the European market on September 17, 2004. An Xbox 360 version was released worldwide in April 2006 as the system's first MMORPG and the first cross-platform MMORPG.

The story is set in the fantasy world of Vana'diel, where tasks can be performed to improve a character's powers or to complete quests. Players are able to customize a character that they will guide through the story. There are also hundreds of quests that allow players to gain various rewards, as well as a growing number of player versus player competitions.

In January 2004, Square Enix announced that more than 500,000 users, using more than one million characters, were playing the game. As of 2006, between 200,000 and 300,000 active players logged in per day, and the game remains the dominant MMORPG in Japan. (more...)

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Final Fantasy XII (ファイナルファンタジーXII, Fainaru Fantajī Tuerubu) is a role-playing video game developed and published by Square Enix for Sony's PlayStation 2, and the twelfth installment in the Final Fantasy series. It was released in 2006, and was the first single-player Final Fantasy title of the main series since Final Fantasy X five years earlier. Selling more than two million copies in Japan, it became the fourth best-selling PlayStation 2 game of 2006 worldwide.

The game takes place in the fictional location called Ivalice, where the empires of Archadia and Rozarria are waging an endless war. Dalmasca, a small kingdom, is caught between the warring nations. When Archadia invades and occupies Dalmasca, its princess, Ashe, creates a resistance movement. During the struggle, she meets Vaan, a young adventurer who dreams of commanding an airship. They are quickly joined by a band of allies; together, they rally against the tyranny of the Archadian Empire.

Final Fantasy XII introduced several innovations to the series: battles occur without a transition to a separate screen; a "gambit" system automatically controls the actions of characters; and a "license" system determines which abilities and equipment are used by characters. Final Fantasy XII also includes elements from previous games in the series, such as summoned monsters, Chocobos, and airships. (more...)

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Final Fantasy Tactics (ファイナルファンタジータクティクス, Fainaru Fantajī Takutikusu) is a tactical role-playing game developed and published by Square (now Square Enix) for the Sony PlayStation video game console. It was released in Japan in June 1997 and in the United States in January 1998. The game combines thematic elements of the Final Fantasy video game series with a game engine and battle system unlike those previously seen in the franchise. In contrast to other 32-bit era Final Fantasy titles, Final Fantasy Tactics uses a 3D, isometric, rotatable playing field, with bitmap sprite characters.

The game is set in a fictional kingdom called Ivalice, which has just ended its war with neighboring kingdom of Ordalia. The story follows Ramza Beoulve, a young cadet who finds himself thrust into the middle of a conflict, where two noble factions are coveting the throne of the kingdom. While the war was caused by a conflict of succession, Ramza was exposed to a plot that involved the kingdom's dominant religious organization.

A spin-off was created in 2003, called Final Fantasy Tactics Advance for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance, and a sequel has been announced for it called Final Fantasy Tactics A2, and in 2006, a stand-alone title called Final Fantasy XII was released for the Sony PlayStation 2. (more...)

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Characters of Final Fantasy VIII: Square's 1999 best-selling role-playing video game Final Fantasy VIII deals with an elite group of mercenaries called "SeeD", as well as soldiers, rebels and political leaders of various nations and cities. Thirteen weeks after its release, Final Fantasy VIII had earned more than US$50 million in sales, making it the fastest selling Final Fantasy title. Additionally, Final Fantasy VIII was voted the 22nd-best game of all time by readers of the Japanese magazine Famitsu. The game's characters were created by Tetsuya Nomura, and are the first in the series to be realistically proportioned in a consistent manner. This graphical shift, as well as the cast in general, has received generally positive reviews from gaming magazines and websites.

The six main playable characters in Final Fantasy VIII are Squall Leonhart, a loner who keeps his focus on duty and avoids letting himself care for others to avoid vulnerability; Rinoa Heartilly, a passionate young woman who follows her heart in all situations and does not hesitate to speak her mind; Quistis Trepe, an instructor with a serious, patient attitude; Zell Dincht, a martial artist with a passion for hot dogs and fighting; Selphie Tilmitt, a cheerful girl who loves trains and flies the spacecraft Ragnarok. (more...)

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Characters of Kingdom Hearts: Kingdom Hearts is a series of action role-playing video games developed and published by Square Enix (formerly Square). It is the result of a collaboration between Square and Disney Interactive Studios. Kingdom Hearts is a crossover of various Disney settings based in a universe made specifically for the series. The series features a mixture of familiar Disney and Final Fantasy characters, as well as several new characters designed and created by Tetsuya Nomura. In addition, it has an all-star voice cast which includes many of the Disney characters' official voice actors.

The series centers around the main character Sora's search for his friends and his encounters with Disney and Final Fantasy characters on their worlds. There are few playable characters in the games, though there are numerous characters that are able to join Sora's party as computer controlled members. The majority of the characters were introduced in the first game, Kingdom Hearts. Several new characters were introduced in the sequel, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, which also featured alternate versions of previous characters created from Sora's memories. The third game, Kingdom Hearts II, added more Disney and Final Fantasy characters as well as introduced new antagonists. (more...)

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Cortana is a fictional artificially intelligent (AI) character in Bungie Studios' Halo series of video games. Voiced by Jen Taylor, she appears in Halo: Combat Evolved and its sequels, Halo 2 and Halo 3, as well the novels Halo: The Flood, Halo: The Fall of Reach, Halo: First Strike, and Halo: Ghosts of Onyx. During gameplay, Cortana provides backstory and tactical information to the player, who assumes the role of the Master Chief. In the story, she is instrumental in preventing the activation of the Halo installations, which would have destroyed all sentient life in the galaxy.

Bungie first introduced Cortana—and Halo—through the Cortana Letters, cryptic emails sent during Combat Evolved's production in 1999. Since then, the character has been used extensively to advertise the series. Action figures of the character were sold in conjunction with the latter two games, and she appeared in other forms of marketing for Halo 3. Cortana has been recognized for her sex appeal, believability, and character depth; she was rated as one of the ten most disturbingly sexual game characters by Games.net and one of the fifty greatest female video game characters ever by Tom's Games. (more...)

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Master Chief Petty Officer John-117, commonly called Master Chief and John alternatively, is a fictional character and the main protagonist of the Halo universe, created by Bungie Studios, and is a player character in the trilogy of science fiction first-person shooter video games Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo 4. Outside of video games, the Master Chief appears in the novels Halo: The Fall of Reach, Halo: The Flood, Halo: First Strike, and Halo: Uprising, and has cameos in Halo: Ghosts of Onyx and the Halo Graphic Novel. He is voiced by Chicago disc jockey Steve Downes in the video games in which he appears.

The Master Chief is one of the most visible symbols of the Halo series and the video game universe. Originally designed by Marcus Lehto, Rob McLees, and Shi Kai Wang, the character is a towering and faceless cybernetically enhanced supersoldier; he is never seen without his armor or helmet. The character has been called an icon, a relative newcomer among more established franchise characters, such as Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Lara Croft. Electronic Gaming Monthly named the Master Chief as the eighth greatest video game character ever. Conversely, the Chief's silent nature during gameplay has led to criticisms that the character is one-dimensional and unbelievable. (more...)

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Killer7 (キラー7, Kirāsebun) is an action-adventure video game for the Nintendo GameCube and PlayStation 2. It was developed by Grasshopper Manufacture and published by Capcom. The game was written and directed by Goichi Suda, also known by the nickname Suda51, and produced by Hiroyuki Kobayashi. Killer7 features first-person shooter elements and a unique "on rails" control scheme, but the core adventure-style gameplay has been compared to Myst and Snatcher. The game follows an elite group of assassins called the "killer7". The assassins, physical manifestations of one man Harman Smith, perform hits on behalf of the United States government. Through these missions, the killer7 uncover a deeper conspiracy regarding the role of Japan in US politics and secrets about the nature of their organization.

Killer7 was Suda51's first game released outside Japan. It received polarizing reviews due to its unconventional control scheme and complex noir plot. While some reviewers appreciated the stripped-down controls and stylized "arthouse" approach, others panned it as confusing and restricting. Jack Thompson, an outspoken video game activist, alleged that the game contains "full-blown sex sequences", but his claims were ultimately refuted. Despite these setbacks, Killer7's cult appeal led to remakes of Suda51's older works and the successful launch of No More Heroes. (more...)

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Super Nintendo Entertainment System, North American version

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System or Super NES (also called SNES and Super Nintendo) is a 16-bit video game console that was released by Nintendo in North America, Europe, Australasia (Oceania), and South America between 1990 and 1993. In Japan and Southeast Asia, the system is called the Super Family Computer, Super Famicom (スーパーファミコン, Sūpā Famikon), or SFC for short. In South Korea, it is known as the Super Comboy and was distributed by Hyundai Electronics. Although each version is essentially the same, several forms of regional lockout prevent direct compatibility.

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System was Nintendo's second home console, following the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). The console introduced advanced graphics and sound capabilities that compensated for its relatively slow CPU, compared with other consoles at the time. Additionally, the system's support for numerous enhancement chips (which shipped as part of certain game cartridges) helped to keep it competitive in the marketplace.

The SNES was a global success, becoming the best-selling console of the 16-bit era despite its relatively late start and the fierce competition it faced in North America from Sega's Genesis console. Some consider the SNES to embody the "Golden Age of video games", citing its many groundbreaking games and the perceived focus on gameplay over graphics and technical gimmicks. (more...)

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Giants: Citizen Kabuto is a third-person shooter video game with real-time strategy elements for Microsoft Windows. It was the first project for Planet Moon Studios comprising former Shiny Entertainment employees who had worked on the game MDK. The game went through four years of development before Interplay Entertainment published it on December 6, 2000, and followed up with a PlayStation 2 port in 2001. MacPlay published the Mac OS X port earlier in the same year. The subtitle "Citizen Kabuto" refers to the thundering behemoth who is one of the playable characters in the game. Players can also take on the roles of jet pack-equipped and heavily armed Meccaryns, or amphibious spellcasting Sea Reapers; they challenge each other in multiplayer games. The single-player mode is framed as a sequential story, and puts the player through missions, several of which test the player's reflexes in action game-like puzzles, to teach the abilities of each playable race. Game critics praised the game for its state of the art graphics, humorous story, and success in blending in one genre with another. Criticisms of the game centered on crippling software bugs and lack of an in-game save feature. The critics also rated its console version as technically inferior to its PC versions. The game sold poorly for both Windows and PlayStation 2, although it enjoyed a successful launch for its small Mac OS X market.

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Golden Sun, released in Japan as Ōgon no Taiyō Hirakareshi Fūin (黄金の太陽 開かれし封印, literally "Golden Sun: The Broken Seal"), is the first installment of a series of role-playing video game video games developed by Camelot Software Planning and published by Nintendo. It was released in November 2001 for Nintendo's Game Boy Advance, with a Game Boy Advance sequel, Golden Sun: The Lost Age, in 2003. The game is notable for certain unique game elements, such as the use of special "Djinn" that empower the player and can be used against enemies.

The story follows a band of magic-attuned "adepts" who are sent from their home town into the wide world of Weyard to prevent the destructive power of alchemy from being released as it was in the past. Along the way the adepts gain new abilities, help out the local populations, and learn more about why alchemy was sealed away. Upon its release, the game was highly praised; IGN said that Golden Sun could "arguably be one of the best 2D-based Japanese RPGs created for any system." Golden Sun is a contemporary presentation of the traditional role-playing video game formula, where the player guides a cast of four characters as they journey through a fantasy-themed game world. (more...)

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A "Catrina" sculpture

Grim Fandango is a personal computer game in the graphic adventure genre released by LucasArts in 1998 and primarily written by Tim Schafer. It is the first adventure game by LucasArts to use 3D computer graphics overlaid on pre-rendered 2D backgrounds. As with other LucasArts adventure games, the player must converse with other characters and examine, collect, and use objects correctly to solve puzzles in order to progress. Grim Fandango's world combines elements of Aztec beliefs of afterlife with style aspects of film noir, including The Maltese Falcon, On the Waterfront and Casablanca, to create the Land of the Dead, which recently departed souls, represented in the game as calaca-like figures, must travel through before they reach their final destination, the Ninth Underworld. The story follows travel agent Manuel "Manny" Calavera as he attempts to save Mercedes "Meche" Colomar, a newly arrived but virtuous soul, during her long journey. The game received positive reviews, praising its artistic design and overall game direction in particular. Grim Fandango was selected for several gaming awards at the time of release, and is often listed in publishers' lists of top games of all time. However, the game has been considered a commercial failure, which partially led LucasArts to terminate their adventure game development, contributing to the decline of the adventure game genre.

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Halo 2 is a science fiction first-person shooter video game developed by Bungie Studios. Released for the Xbox game console on November 9, 2004, the game is the sequel to Halo: Combat Evolved. After its initial release, Halo 2 was the most popular video game on Xbox Live, holding that rank until the release of Gears of War for the Xbox 360 nearly two years later. By June 20, 2006, more than 500 million games of Halo 2 had been played and more than 710 million hours have been spent playing it on Xbox Live; by May 9, 2007, this number had risen to more than five million unique players on Xbox Live. As of May 9, 2006, Halo 2 is the best-selling first-generation Xbox game with 8 million copies sold worldwide. As of September 25, 2007, Halo 2 is the fifth best-selling video game in the United States with 6.3 million copies sold in the US alone. The game features a new game engine, as well as using the Havok physics engine; added weapons and vehicles; new multi-player maps; and a continuation of the storyline from Halo: Combat Evolved. (more...)

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Halo 3 is a first-person shooter video game developed by Bungie exclusively for the Xbox 360. The game is the third title in the Halo series and concludes the story arc that began in Halo: Combat Evolved and continued in Halo 2.

The game was released on September 25, 2007 in Australia, Brazil, India, New Zealand, North America, and Singapore; September 26, 2007 in Europe; and September 27, 2007 in Japan. On the day before its official release, 4.2 million units of Halo 3 were in retail outlets. Halo 3 holds the record for the highest grossing opening day in entertainment history, bringing in US$170 million in its first 24 hours, going on to gross US$300 million in its first week. More than one million people played Halo 3 on Xbox Live in the first twenty hours. As of January 3, 2008, Halo 3 has sold 8.1 million copies, and was the best-selling video game of 2007 in the U.S.

Halo 3's story centers on the interstellar war between 26th century humanity, led by the United Nations Space Command, and a collection of alien races known as the Covenant. (more...)

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Iridion 3D is a quasi-3D rail shooter game for the Game Boy Advance developed by Shin'en. A launch title for the Game Boy Advance, it was released in North America on May 29, 2001 and in Europe on September 21, 2001. While praised for beautiful graphics and rich sound, the game was derided by critics and gamers for repetitive gameplay.

Iridion began development as a shooter for the Game Boy Color; when Shin'en decided to drop development and shift their focus to the Game Boy Advance, Iridion was the first game by the developer to appear on the system. Though billed as a 3D game, Shin'en used realtime encoding and resizing to manipulate the size of 2D sprites instead of creating a true 3D environment.

Influenced by the Commodore 64 game Uridium, Iridion features a single starship waging war against the alien Iridion that have attacked Earth. The game spans seven levels from Earth to the alien's home planet, each with a fixed linear path that ends with a boss. Despite lukewarm reception to the title upon release, Iridion 3D influenced future Shin'en shooters such as Iridion II and Nanostray. (more...)

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Defense of the Ancients (often referred to as DotA) is a custom scenario for Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, based on the "Aeon of Strife" map for StarCraft. The objective of the scenario is to destroy the opponents' "Ancient". The two teams' ancients are heavily guarded structures at opposing corners of the map. Players use powerful units known as heroes, and are assisted by allied heroes and AI-controlled fighters called "creeps". As in role-playing games, players level up their hero and use gold to buy equipment during the mission.

The scenario was developed with the "World Editor" of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, and was updated upon the release of the Warcraft expansion The Frozen Throne. There have been many variations of the original concept; currently, the most popular is DotA Allstars, which has been maintained by several authors during development.

Since its release, Allstars has become a feature at several worldwide tournaments, including Blizzard Entertainment's BlizzCon and the Asian World Cyber Games, as well as the Cyberathlete Amateur and CyberEvolution leagues; Gamasutra declared that DotA was perhaps the most popular "free, non-supported game mod in the world". The map has gone on to influence other maps and games, including the upcoming strategy game Demigod. (more...)

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The development of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion began in 2002, immediately after Morrowind's publication. Rumors of a sequel to The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind began circulating in June 2004; the sequel's title was identified on September 10, 2004, the date of Oblivion's official announcement. Oblivion was developed by Bethesda Softworks, and the initial Xbox 360 and Personal computer (PC) releases were co-published by Bethesda and Take-Two Interactive subsidiary 2K Games. According to interviews with Bethesda staff, the publisher-developer relationship—one of the few independent relations in the industry—worked well, and Bethesda was not subject to excessive corporate guidance. Originally scheduled for a November 22, 2005 release, in tandem with the Xbox 360's launch, Oblivion was delayed to a March 21, 2006 release for Windows PCs and the Xbox 360.

Developers working on Oblivion focused on providing a tighter storyline, with fewer filler quests and more developed characters. The developers sought to make information in the game world more accessible to players, making the game easier to pick up and play. Oblivion features improved AI (courtesy of Bethesda's proprietary Radiant AI), improved physics (courtesy of the Havok physics engine), and impressive graphics, taking advantage of advanced lighting and shader routines like high dynamic range rendering (HDR) and specular mapping. (more...)

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ESRB re-rating of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: On May 3, 2006, the North American Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) changed the rating of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, a video game for PCs and the Xbox 360, from Teen (13+) to Mature (17+). The ESRB cited the presence of content not considered in their original review in the published edition of Oblivion. This included detailed depictions of blood and gore and sexually explicit content. The sexually explicit content was an art file, made accessible by a third party modification called the Oblivion Topless Mod, that rendered the game with topless female characters.

In response to the new content, the ESRB conducted a new review of Oblivion, showing to its reviewers the content originally submitted by the game's publisher along with the newly disclosed content. The new review resulted in an M rating. The ESRB reported that Bethesda Softworks, the game's developer and publisher, would promptly notify all retailers of the change, issue stickers for retailers and distributors to affix on the product, display the new rating in all following product shipments and marketing, and create a downloadable patch rendering the topless skin inaccessible. Bethesda complied with the request, but issued a press release declaring their disagreement with the ESRB's rationale. Although certain retailers began to check for ID before selling Oblivion as a result of the change, and the change elicited criticism for the ESRB, the events passed by with little notice from the public at large. Other commentators remarked on the injustice of punishing a company for the actions of its clients, and one called the event a "pseudo-sequel" to the Hot Coffee minigame controversy.

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Halo Graphic Novel is a graphic novel published by Marvel Comics in partnership with Bungie Studios. The Halo series began with the award-winning popular video game Halo: Combat Evolved, which spawned several books as well as video game sequels, and is focused on the story of future humanity fighting against a powerful collective of races called the Covenant. The Halo Graphic Novel is the series' first entry into the sequential art medium, and features aspects of the Halo universe which until then had not been discussed or seen in any medium.

The majority of the book is divided into four short stories by writers and artists from the computer game and comic industries. Each tale focuses on different aspects of the Halo universe, revealing stories that are tangential to the main plot of the game. The book also contains an extensive art gallery compiled of contributions from Bungie, Marvel and independent sources. Released on July 19, 2006, the Halo Graphic Novel was well-received, with reviewers noting the cohesiveness of the work as a whole, as well as the diversity of the individual material. The success of the novel led to Marvel announcing a new limited comic series, which became known as Halo: Uprising. (more...)

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Kingdom Hearts (キングダムハーツ, Kingudamu Hātsu) is an action role-playing game developed and published by Squaresoft (now Square Enix) in 2002 for the PlayStation 2 video game console. It is the result of a collaboration between Square and The Walt Disney Company. The game combines characters, elements, and settings from Disney's animated features with those from Square's Final Fantasy series. The story follows a young boy, Sora, as he is thrown into an epic battle against darkness. He is joined by Donald Duck and Goofy, classic Disney characters, who help him on his quest.

Kingdom Hearts was a departure from Square's standard role-playing games by introducing a substantial action-adventure element to the gameplay. In addition, it has an all-star voice cast which included many of the Disney characters' official voice actors. Kingdom Hearts was longtime Square character designer Tetsuya Nomura's first time in a directorial position.

The game was praised for its unusual combination of action and role-playing, as well as its unexpectedly harmonious mix of Square and Disney elements. It received numerous year-end "Best" video game awards, was a dominating presence in the 2002 holiday season, and went on to achieve Sony "Greatest Hits" status. (more...)

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Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (キングダムハーツ チェインオブメモリーズ, Kingudamu Hātsu Chein obu Memorīzu) is an action role-playing game developed by Japanese studio Jupiter and published by Square Enix in 20042005 for the Game Boy Advance. The game serves as an intermediary between the two larger-scale PlayStation 2 games in the Kingdom Hearts series. It was one of the first GBA games to incorporate full motion video. The game was remade into a PlayStation 2 game titled Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories, which was released in Japan as a second disc packaged with Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix in March 2007.

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories is the direct sequel to Kingdom Hearts, and its ending is set about a year before Kingdom Hearts II. The story centers around the protagonist of the first game, Sora, exploring a mysterious castle in search of his friends. As he ascends the castle, his friend and rival, Riku, explores the basement levels and fights his personal demons. The game introduces new characters and plotlines that further expanded the Kingdom Hearts universe and set up the premise for Kingdom Hearts II. Though not as successful as the other Kingdom Hearts games, it received positive reviews and sales. It was praised for its story, graphics, and FMVs. (more...)

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Kingdom Hearts II (キングダムハーツII, Kingudamu Hātsu Tsū) is an action role-playing game developed by Square Enix and published by Square Enix and Buena Vista Games (now Disney Interactive Studios) in 2005 for the Sony PlayStation 2 video game console. Kingdom Hearts II is the sequel to the 2002 Disney Interactive and Square collaboration, Kingdom Hearts, which combined Disney and Square elements into an action role-playing game. The game's popularity has resulted in a novel and manga series based upon it and an international version called Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, released in March 2007.

Kingdom Hearts II is the third game in the Kingdom Hearts series. It picks up one year after the events of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. Sora, the protagonist of the first two games, returns to search for his lost friends. Like the previous installments, this game features a large cast of characters from Disney films and Final Fantasy games. Organization XIII, a group introduced in Chain of Memories, also reappears to impede Sora's progress. The game was well-received, earning year-end awards from numerous video gaming websites. In Japan, it shipped more than one million copies within a week of its release. (more...)

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This geometrical symbol is used to represent the Triforce, an important element in the game's narrative.

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages are two action-adventure games developed by Flagship and published by Nintendo and the seventh and eighth installments in The Legend of Zelda video game series. They were released on February 27, 2001 in Japan, May 14, 2001 in North America, and October 5, 2001 in Europe for the Nintendo Game Boy Color. A special shop is available when played on a Nintendo Game Boy Advance.

After experimenting with porting the original The Legend of Zelda to the Game Boy Color, Yoshiki Okamoto's Flagship team began developing three interconnected Zelda games that could be played in any order. The complexity of this system led the team to cancel one game; the remaining two were adapted into Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages. The two games, released simultaneously, interact via a Game Link Cable and a password system.

In Seasons, the Triforce transports Link to the land of Holodrum, where he witnesses the kidnapping of Din, the Oracle of Seasons, by Onox. In Ages, the Triforce transports Link to Labrynna, where Nayru is kidnapped by Veran. The main plot is revealed once the player completes both games. (more...)

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Metroid Prime is a video game developed by Retro Studios and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo GameCube, released in North America on November 15, 2002. It is the first 3D game in the Metroid series, and is classified by Nintendo as a first-person adventure rather than a first-person shooter, due to the large exploration component of the game. In North America, it was also the first Metroid installment to be released since Super Metroid in 1994; in all other markets, it was released after Metroid Fusion.

Metroid Prime is the first of the three part Prime storyline, which takes place between the original Metroid and Metroid II: Return of Samus. Like previous games in the series, Metroid Prime has a science fiction setting, in which players control the bounty hunter Samus Aran. The story follows Samus as she battles the Space Pirates and their biological experiments on the planet Tallon IV.

Despite initial backlash from fans due to the first-person perspective, the game was released to both critical and commercial success, selling more than a million units in North America alone and becoming one of the most acclaimed games of all time.

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Populous: The Beginning is the third game in the PC strategy god games of the Populous series, developed by Bullfrog Productions in 1998. The game was the first in the series to use true 3D graphics. Unlike earlier games in the series, which cast the player in the role of a god influencing loyal followers, The Beginning took a radical departure from the earlier games and cast the player instead as a shaman, who directly leads her tribe against opponents.

Throughout the twenty-five missions of the campaign, the player leads their tribe across a solar system, dominating enemy tribes and tapping new sources of magic, with the ultimate goal of the shaman attaining godhood itself. The game, playing very different from earlier titles, was welcomed to mixed reviews, with reviewers noting the excellent graphics; complaints were directed at the artificial intelligence and the inability of the game to decide between being a real time strategy title or god game. The PC version of the game was released November 30, 1998; a PlayStation version was later developed and released on April 2, 1999. The PlayStation version was later emulated on the PlayStation Network in 2007. (more...)

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Diagram showing retention of speed but change of direction.

Portal is a single-player first-person action/puzzle video game developed by the Valve Corporation. The game was released in the bundle package The Orange Box for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360 on October 9, 2007, and for the PlayStation 3 on December 11, 2007. The Windows version of the game is also available for download separately through Valve's content delivery system, Steam and was released as a standalone retail product on April 9, 2008.

The game consists primarily of a series of puzzles that must be solved by teleporting the player's character and other simple objects using the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device ("Portal Gun" for short), a unit that can create an inter-spatial portal between flat planes. The player character is challenged by an AI named "GLaDOS" to complete each puzzle in the "Aperture Science Enrichment Center" using the Portal Gun with the promise of receiving cake when all the puzzles are completed. The unusual physics allowed by the portal gun are the emphasis of this game, and is an extension of a similar portal concept in Narbacular Drop; many of the team from the DigiPen Institute of Technology that worked on Narbacular Drop were hired by Valve for the creation of Portal. (more...)

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Radical Dreamers: Nusumenai Hōseki (ラジカル・ドリーマーズ -盗めない宝石-, Rajikaru Dorīmāzu -Nusumenai Hōseki-, literally Radical Dreamers -The Jewel That Cannot Be Stolen-) is a Japanese video game produced by Squaresoft (now Square Enix) in 1996 for the Satellaview add-on for the Nintendo Super Famicom. It is a text-based adventure game in which the player takes the role of Serge, a young adventurer accompanied by Kid, a teen-aged thief, and Gil, a mysterious masked magician.

The game belongs to the Chrono series and is a gaiden, or side story, to the 1995 game Chrono Trigger, released to complement its predecessor's plot, and later serving as inspiration for Chrono Cross. It features text-based gameplay with minimal graphics and sound effects, and was scored by composer Yasunori Mitsuda.

Radical Dreamers and other Satellaview titles were planned to be released at the Akihabara electronics district of Tokyo. Square also tried to integrate it into the Japanese PlayStation port of Chrono Trigger as an Easter egg. Writer and director Masato Kato halted both releases, unhappy with the quality of his work. Though the game was never officially released abroad, ROM hackers completed an English fan translation in 2003. (more...)

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Silent Hill 4: The Room is the fourth installment in the Konami Silent Hill survival horror series. The game was released in Japan in June 2004 and in North America and Europe in September of that same year. Silent Hill 4 was released for the Sony PlayStation 2 and the Microsoft Xbox consoles as well as the PC. A soundtrack release was also made at the same time.

Unlike the previous installments, which were set primarily in the disturbed town of Silent Hill, this game is set in the fictional town of South Ashfield, and is focused on the character of Henry Townshend attempting to escape from his locked-down apartment. He explores a series of supernatural worlds and finds himself in conflict with an undead serial killer.

Originally intended as a spinoff from the main series, Silent Hill 4 features an altered gameplay style with first-person navigation and plot elements taken from previous installments. Upon its release the game received a mostly positive critical reaction despite mixed opinions to the deviations from the original Silent Hill style. Silent Hill 4: The Room was originally envisioned as a spinoff of the Silent Hill series, rather than a continuation of the main story. (more...)

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Spyro: Year of the Dragon is a platform game developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation. The game was released in North America on October 11, 2000, in the United Kingdom on October 25, and in the rest of Europe on November 10. Year of the Dragon is the third installment in the Spyro series and the last Spyro game to be released for the PlayStation. The game was the last Spyro game Insomniac Games made (their next title was Ratchet & Clank for the PlayStation 2).

Named after the animal of the Chinese zodiac, Year of the Dragon follows the titular purple character Spyro as he travels to the "Forgotten Realms" after 150 magical dragon eggs are stolen from the land of the dragons by an evil sorceress. Players travel across thirty different worlds gathering gems and eggs. Year of the Dragon introduced new characters and minigames to the series, as well as offering improved graphics and music.

Upon release, the game sold more than two million units in the United States, and received positive critical response, with reviewers noting the game built on the successful formula of its predecessors by adding more games and expansive environments. (more...)

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Super Mario 64 (スーパーマリオ64, Sūpā Mario Rokujūyon) is a platformer developed by Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64. It was released in Japan on June 23, 1996, in North America on September 29, 1996, and in Europe on March 1, 1997. Along with Pilotwings 64, it was one of the launch titles for the Nintendo 64. Super Mario 64 has sold over eleven million copies, and as of September 25, 2007, it is the seventh best-selling video game in the United States.

Super Mario 64 was the first 3D platform game in the Mario series, and it established a new archetype for the genre, much as Super Mario Bros. did for 2D sidescrolling platformers. Hailed as "revolutionary", the game left a lasting impression on the 3D game design, particularly notable for its use of a dynamic camera system and the implementation of its analog control.

By going from two to three dimensions, Super Mario 64 replaced the linear obstacle courses of traditional platform games with vast worlds in which the player must complete multiple and diverse missions, with an emphasis on exploration. While doing so, it managed to preserve many gameplay elements and characters of earlier Mario games. (more...)

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Nintendo GameCube

Super Smash Bros. Melee (大乱闘スマッシュブラザーズDX, Dairantō Sumasshu Burazāzu Derakkusu, lit. "Great Melee Smash Brothers Deluxe") is a crossover fighting/action game released for the Nintendo GameCube shortly after its launch in 2001 (2002 in the PAL region). It is the sequel to the 1999 Nintendo 64 game Super Smash Bros., and the predecessor to the 2008 Wii game Super Smash Bros. Brawl. HAL Laboratory developed the game, with Masahiro Sakurai as head of production.

The game is centered on characters from Nintendo's video gaming franchises such as Mario, Pokémon and The Legend of Zelda. The stages and gameplay modes make references to, or take their designs from, popular games released by Nintendo.Melee's gameplay system offers an unorthodox approach to the "fighter" genre as percentage counters measure the level of damage received, rather than the health bar traditionally seen in most fighting games. It builds on the first game's broad appeal by adding new features related to gameplay and playable characters. Following the popularity of its multiplayer gameplay, Melee has featured in several multiplayer gaming tournaments. The game received a generally positive reception from the media, as well as awards and acknowledgements from gaming publications. (more...)

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MissingNo. (けつばん, Ketsuban), or MissingNO, is a Pokémon species found in the video games Pokémon Red and Blue. Standing for "Missing Number", MissingNo. Pokémon are used as error handlers by game developer Game Freak; they appear when the game attempts to access data for a nonexistent Pokémon species. Due to the programming of three in-game events, players can encounter MissingNo. via a glitch. The species was first documented by Nintendo in the May 1999 issue of Nintendo Power.

Encountering MissingNo. causes graphical errors and the mass replication of the sixth item in the player's item menu; the latter effect resulted in the glitch's coverage by strategy guides and game magazines. IGN has noted MissingNo.'s appearance in Pokémon Red and Blue as one of the most famous video game glitches. Fans of the series have attempted to rationalize MissingNo. as canon, which has sparked discussion in sociological studies about the impact of video games upon society.

Developed by Game Freak and published by Nintendo, the Pokémon series began in Japan in 1996. The player assumes the role of a Pokémon Trainer whose goal is to capture and train creatures called Pokémon. Players use the creatures' special abilities to combat other Pokémon. (more...)

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System Shock is an action role-playing game developed by Looking Glass Technologies and published by Origin Systems. Released in 1994, the game is set aboard the fictional Citadel Station in a cyberpunk vision of 2072. Assuming the role of a nameless hacker, the player attempts to hinder the plans of a malevolent artificial intelligence.

Unlike other first-person games of the time, System Shock features true 3D environments, allowing the player to look up and down, climb, duck, jump, and lean to the side. Critics praised System Shock and hailed the game as a major innovation in its genre. It was later placed on multiple hall of fame lists. Despite its technological feats and critical acceptance, System Shock was outsold by its contemporaries. A sequel, System Shock 2, was released by Looking Glass Studios and off-shoot developer Irrational Games in 1999.

Before the beginning of the game, the protagonist — a nameless hacker — is caught attempting to remotely access files concerning Citadel Station, a space station owned by the fictional TriOptimum Corporation. The hacker is taken to Citadel Station and brought before Edward Diego, a TriOptimum executive. Diego offers to drop all charges against the hacker in exchange for a confidential hacking of SHODAN, the artificial intelligence that controls the station. (more...)

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Vagrant Story (ベイグラントストーリー, Beiguranto Sutōrī) is a Japanese-developed role-playing video game developed and published by Square (now Square Enix) for the Sony PlayStation video game console in 2000. The game was released in Japan in February 2000, in the United States in May 2000, and in Canada and Europe later, as part of Square's promotional "Summer of Adventure" game package, and in PAL territories in June 2000. It was largely developed by the team responsible for Final Fantasy Tactics, with Yasumi Matsuno serving as producer and director.

The game takes place in the fictional kingdom of Valendia and the ruined city of Leá Monde. The story centers on Ashley Riot, an elite agent known as a Riskbreaker, who must travel to Leá Monde to investigate the link between a cult leader and a senior Valendian Parliament member, Duke Bardorba. In the prologue, Ashley was blamed for murdering the duke, and the game discloses the events that happened one week before the murder.

Vagrant Story is unique as a console action/adventure role-playing game because it features no shops and no player interaction between other characters; instead, the game focuses on weapon creation and modification, as well as elements of puzzle-solving and strategy. Overall, the game received positive reviews from gaming magazines and websites. (more...)

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Voyage: Inspired by Jules Verne (called Journey to the Moon in the United Kingdom) is a point-and-click adventure game with pre-rendered graphics, developed by Kheops Studio and published by The Adventure Company for the PC in 2005. The game's story focuses on a French adventurer's journey to the moon in the 19th century, and the ancient lunar civilization he finds there.

Voyage is loosely based on the novels From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon by science-fiction author Jules Verne, and the novel The First Men in the Moon by science-fiction author H.G. Wells. Reactions to the game were generally mixed. In particular, some reviewers praised it for immersing the player in the look and feel of the 19th century; others have criticized it for featuring out-of-date graphics and dull textures.

While staying true to most adventure game conventions, Voyage has unique features for its genre. These include two dexterity minigames that take advantage of the lack of gravity in the game's lunar setting, and an "Intelligence Management System", in which a score is assigned to the player for every puzzle the player solves, and for certain actions. The Adventure Company introduced this feature to motivate players to replay the game to increase their cumulative score. (more...)

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Wii Sports is a sports game developed and produced by Nintendo as a launch title for the Wii video game console. It was first released in North America along with the Wii on November 19, 2006, and was released in Japan, Australia, and Europe the following month. The game is included as a pack-in game with the Wii console in all territories except Japan, making it the first game included with the launch of a Nintendo system since Mario's Tennis for the Virtual Boy in 1995. Wii Sports is part of the Touch! Generations brand.

The game is a collection of five sports simulations, designed to demonstrate the motion-sensing capabilities of the Wii Remote to new players. The five sports included are tennis, baseball, bowling, golf, and boxing. Players use the Wii Remote to mimic actions performed in real life sports, such as swinging a tennis racket. The rules for each game are simplified to make them more accessible to new players. The game also features training and fitness modes that monitor player progress in the sports. Overall, Wii Sports has been well received by critics and received awards from the gaming press and entertainment community. (more...)

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Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is a first-person shooter video game developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision for the PlayStation 3, Windows, and the Xbox 360. It is scheduled for release for Mac OS X in the third quarter of 2008. It is the fourth installment of the Call of Duty video game series, excluding expansion packs. The game breaks away from the World War II setting of previous games in the series and is instead set in modern times. The game is the first in the series to be rated Mature in North America. The title and game details were announced on April 25, 2007, and the game was released worldwide between November 6, 2007 and November 9, 2007. It became available on Steam on November 6, 2007 for pre-purchase, and was available to play on November 12, 2007.

The story is centered around a fictional near-future conflict involving the United States, the United Kingdom, and Russia, who are fighting against Russian ultranationalists in civil war torn Russia, and rebels that have staged a coup d'état in a small Middle Eastern country. It is told from the perspectives of a United States Marine and a member of the British SAS. (more...)

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Crackdown is an open-world, third-person shooter video game for the Xbox 360 game console. It was released in North America on February 20, 2007, and worldwide by February 23, 2007. Crackdown was developed by Realtime Worlds, and distributed by Microsoft Game Studios. It was conceived by Realtime Worlds' founder, David Jones, who also created Grand Theft Auto and Lemmings.

Set in the fictional Pacific City, the player controls a cybernetically-enhanced Agent, tasked with defeating three crime lords and their organized crime syndicates. The Agent's abilities improve by defeating both crime lords and their supporters, as well as by completing optional activities, such as street races and scavenger hunts. The gameplay is nonlinear: instead of following a rigid mission sequence, players are free to select the approach to completing their missions and activities. The game features a two-player cooperative play mode via Xbox Live.

Crackdown, initially planned for release on the original Xbox console, was envisioned as a vast world in which players could experiment and explore freely. Even though this concept was implemented for the Xbox 360 version, playtesters were largely critical of the game, leading Microsoft Game Studios to fear that it would not be well received. (more...)

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Age of Empires is a series of computer video games developed by Ensemble Studios and published by Microsoft Game Studios. The first title of the series was Age of Empires, released in 1997. Since then, seven titles and three spin-offs have been released. The titles are historical real-time strategy games, and their gameplay revolves around two main game modes: random map and campaign.

The games are set amidst historical events. The first two games focused on events in Europe and Asia Minor, spanning from the Stone Age to the Classical period; one game explored the formation and expansion of the Roman Empire. The next two games were also set in the Middle Ages and the Spanish conquest of Mexico. The subsequent three games explored the early modern period, when Europe was colonizing the Americas and several Asian nations were on the rise. A spin-off game, Age of Mythology, was set in the same period as the original Age of Empires, but focused on fictional elements of Greek, Egyptian, and Norse mythology.

The Age of Empires series has been a commercial success, selling over 15 million copies. The popularity and quality of the games has earned Ensemble Studios a strong reputation in real-time strategy gaming. (more...)

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The controller that was packaged with the game

Guitar Hero is a music video game developed by Harmonix Music Systems and published by RedOctane for the PlayStation 2 video game console. It is the first entry in the Guitar Hero series. Guitar Hero was released on November 8, 2005 in North America, April 7, 2006 in Europe and June 15, 2006 in Australia. The game's development was a result of collaboration between RedOctane and Harmonix to bring a GuitarFreaks-like game to North America.

The game features a guitar-shaped controller (resembling a miniature Gibson SG) that the player uses to simulate the playing of rock music. The gameplay is similar to GuitarFreaks, in that the player presses buttons on the guitar controller in-time with musical notes that scroll on the game screen. The game features covers of 30 popular rock songs spanning five decades of rock, from the 1960s up through 2005, in addition to bonus tracks from independent artists.

Guitar Hero became a surprise hit, earning critical acclaim and winning many awards from major video game publications. The game's success launched the Guitar Hero franchise that has earned more than one billion dollars in sales, spawning several sequels, expansions, and other game-related products. (more...)

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This geometrical symbol is used to represent the Triforce, an important element in the game's narrative.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (ゼルダの伝説 時のオカリナ, Zeruda no Densetsu Toki no Okarina) is an action-adventure video game developed by Nintendo's Entertainment Analysis and Development division for the Nintendo 64 video game console. It was released in Japan on 21 November 1998, in North America on 23 November 1998, and in Europe on 11 December 1998. Originally developed for the Nintendo 64DD peripheral, the game was instead released on a 32-megabyte cartridge—at the time the largest-capacity cartridge Nintendo had produced. It was re-released on the Nintendo GameCube as part of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Master Quest and The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition compilations, on the iQue Player in 2003, and on the Virtual Console in 2007.

Ocarina of Time is the fifth game in The Legend of Zelda series in terms of release, but is set before the first four games, making it the first or second, possibly after The Minish Cap, in terms of chronology. The player controls the series' trademark protagonist, Link, in the land of Hyrule. Link sets out on a quest to stop Ganondorf, King of the Gerudo, from obtaining the Triforce. (more...)

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Myst is a graphic adventure video game designed and directed by the brothers Robyn and Rand Miller. It was developed by Cyan (now Cyan Worlds), a studio based in Spokane, Washington, and was published by Brøderbund. The Millers began working on Myst in 1991, Cyan's largest project to date, and released it for the Macintosh computer in 1993. Myst puts the player in the role of the "Stranger", who uses a special book to travel to the island of Myst. There, the player uses other special books written by an artisan and explorer named Atrus to travel to worlds known as "Ages". Clues found in each Age help to reveal the back-story of the game's characters. The game has several endings, depending on the player's course of action. On release, Myst was a surprise hit, with critics lauding its ability to immerse the player in a fictional world. The game was the best-selling PC game of all time—until The Sims exceeded its sales in 2002—and helped to drive the adoption of the then-nascent CD-ROM format. Myst's success spawned four direct video-game sequels and several spin-off games and novels.

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Myst III: Exile is the third title in the Myst series of first person adventure video games. Although its predecessors Myst and Riven were produced by the series' creator Cyan Worlds and published by Brøderbund, Exile was developed by Presto Studios and published by Ubisoft. The game was first released on four compact discs for both Macintosh and Windows PCs on May 7, 2001; versions for the Xbox and PlayStation 2 were released in late 2002.

As in previous games, the player assumes the role of the Stranger, a friend of Atrus. A member of the D'ni race, Atrus can create links to other worlds called Ages by writing descriptive books. In Exile, Atrus has written an Age for the D'ni to live on while rebuilding their civilization; it is stolen, however, by a mysterious figure. The Stranger pursues the thief in an attempt to reclaim Atrus' book.

The creators of the Myst franchise gave the task of creating the third Myst game to Presto Studios, known for its adventure game series The Journeyman Project. Presto sought to develop a diverse and logical approach to puzzles and Ages, and worked to make the villain sympathetically multifaceted. (more...)

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Riven is the sequel to the highly successful computer game Myst. Developed by Cyan Worlds, it was initially published by Brøderbund. Riven was distributed on five compact discs and released on October 29, 1997 in North America; it was later released on a single DVD-ROM, with improved graphics and a fourteen-minute "making-of" video. In addition to the PC versions, Riven was ported to several other platforms, including the PlayStation and Sega Saturn.

The story of Riven is set immediately after the events of Myst. Having been rescued from the machinations of his sons, the main non-player protagonist Atrus enlists the help of the player character, to free his wife from his power-hungry father, Gehn. Unlike Myst, which took place on several worlds known as Ages and linked together by special books, Riven takes place almost entirely on the eponymous Age of Riven, a world slowly falling apart due to Gehn's rule.

Development of Riven began soon after Myst became a success, and spanned more than three years. In an effort to create a visual style distinct from that of Myst, director Robyn Miller and his brother, producer Rand Miller recruited former Aladdin production designer Richard Vander Wende as a co-director. (more...)

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Halo: Contact Harvest is a science fiction novel by Joseph Staten, set in the Halo universe. Staten is a longtime employee of Bungie, the developer of the Halo video game series; he directed the cut scenes in the video games and is a major contributor to Halo's storyline. The book was released on October 30, 2007, and is the fifth Halo novel, following 2006's Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, written by Eric Nylund. Staten set out to write a novel that appealed to gamers, as well as those who had never read a Halo novel.

Set in 2524, twenty-eight years before the events of Halo: Combat Evolved, the novel tells the story of the United Nations Space Command's first encounter with the alien collective known as the Covenant on the colony world of Harvest, and the beginning of the long war that follows. The novel is an ensemble piece, with the action being narrated from both human and alien viewpoints. The protagonist is a young Marine, Staff Sergeant Avery Johnson, who also appears in the Halo video games. Upon release, the book was generally well-received and became a New York Times bestseller in its first week. (more...)

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The Halo 3 Original Soundtrack is the official soundtrack to Bungie Studios' first-person shooter video game Halo 3. Most of the original music was composed by Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori, but also includes a bonus track, "LvUrFR3NZ", which was the winning entry in a contest held before the soundtrack's release. The 2-CD set was released on November 20, 2007.

For the final game in the Halo trilogy, O'Donnell added new themes as well as bringing back and expanding old ones, some of which had never been recorded with a full orchestra before. The score made extensive use of the piano, an instrument which O'Donnell used extensively for composition but which had not been featured in previous Halo music. In addition to scoring the game, the music was used for promotional advertisements and trailers preceding Halo 3's release.

Upon release, the soundtrack was generally well-received. The score reached the Billboard 200 chart, and also broke the top twenty best-selling soundtracks and independent albums listings. The score was nominated for X-Play's "Best of 2007" awards, under best original soundtrack. The score for Halo 3 gave O'Donnell and Salvatori a chance to rework and revise existing themes heard in the games, as well as create new ones. (more...)

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This geometrical symbol is used to represent the Smash Ball, a common element in the game's visuals and gameplay.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl is the third installment in the Super Smash Bros. series of crossover fighting games, developed by Sora and published by Nintendo for the Wii video game console. Game development began in October 2005 with a creative team that included collaborations with various second- and third-party Nintendo developers. The number of playable characters that players can control in Brawl has grown from that of Super Smash Bros. Melee; Brawl is the first game in the series to expand past Nintendo characters and allow players to control third-party characters. Like its predecessors, the object of Brawl is to knock an opponent off the screen. It is a departure from traditional fighting games, notably in its simplified move commands and emphasis on ring outs over knockouts. It includes a more extensive single-player mode than its predecessors, known as The Subspace Emissary. Brawl also supports multiplayer battles with up to four combatants, and is the first game of its franchise to feature online battles via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. The game received positive reviews, with critics praising the game's entertainment value, despite issues relating to Brawl's loading times. It has sold a total of 8.43 million copies worldwide as of March 2009, and it is the fifth best-selling Wii game.

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Midtown Madness is a racing video game developed for Windows by Angel Studios and published by Microsoft. A demo version was released via download on May 1, 1999, and the entire game was released on May 27, 1999. A sequel, Midtown Madness 2, was released in 2000. Set in Chicago, Illinois, the goal of Midtown Madness is to win street races and obtain new cars. Unlike many racing games, which restrict the player to a race track, Midtown Madness offers an open world recreation of Chicago. This setting was developed by Microsoft and described as offering "an unprecedented degree of freedom to drive around in a virtual city". Players can explore the city via one of several modes, and can determine the weather and traffic conditions for each race. The game supports multiplayer races over a local area network or the Internet. Overall, the game received positive reviews from gaming websites; reviewers generally praised the gameplay, though some criticized the graphics.

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Wipeout 3, alternatively spelled Wip3out, is a futuristic racing video game developed and published by Psygnosis exclusively for the Sony PlayStation. The title is the third game in the Wipeout series, and was released in Europe and North America in September 1999. The game was rereleased in Europe as Wipeout 3: Special Edition in August 2000. Players control extremely fast hovercraft and use weapons to force enemies out of the race. Developer Psygnosis hired design studio The Designers Republic to create a simple color scheme and design for in-game menus and race courses, to create what a Psygnosis staff member called "a believable future". The game is one of the few PlayStation titles to run in high-resolution mode, offering crisper graphics and visuals. Wipeout 3's soundtrack is comprised of techno and electronica tracks selected by DJ Sasha and features contributions by Orbital and The Chemical Brothers. The game was positively received on release; critics lauded the graphics, music, and minimalist design elements. The high level of difficulty, perceived lack of new content and courses, and lack of new game features were seen as the game's primary faults. Despite generally good press, the game was a financial disappointment.

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Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings (often shortened to The Age of Kings or AoK) is a real-time strategy (RTS) video game developed by Ensemble Studios and published by Microsoft. Released on September 30, 1999 for the Microsoft Windows and Macintosh operating systems, it was the second game in the Age of Empires series. An expansion, The Conquerors, was released in 2000. A PlayStation 2 version was released by Konami in 2001, and a Nintendo DS spinoff, Age of Empires: The Age of Kings was developed by Backbone Entertainment in 2006.

The Age of Kings is set in the Middle Ages and contains thirteen playable civilizations. Players aim to gather resources, which they use to build towns, create armies, and ultimately defeat their enemies. There are five historically-based campaigns, which constrict the player to specialized and story-backed conditions. There are three additional single-player game modes, and multiplayer is supported. Despite using the same game engine and similar code to its predecessor, development of The Age of Kings took a year longer than expected, forcing Ensemble Studios to release Age of Empires: The Rise of Rome in 1998 instead. (more...)

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Crush is a platformer-puzzle video game developed by Kuju Entertainment's Zoë Mode studio and published by Sega in 2007 for the PlayStation Portable. The game's protagonist is Danny, a teenager suffering from insomnia, who uses an experimental device to explore his mind and discover the cause for his sleeplessness. Each level of the game, representing events from Danny's life and inspired by artists such as Tim Burton and M.C. Escher, requires the player to control Danny as he collects his "lost marbles" and other thoughts.

Crush's primary gameplay feature involves manipulating each game level between 3D and 2D views, allowing the player to reach platforms and locations inaccessible from within a different view. This element was noted by critics to be similar to one in Super Paper Mario, also released in 2007, though the Zoë Mode team had envisioned the concept five years prior. Crush received positive reviews upon release, with critics praising Crush's incorporation of this dimension-shifting component alongside other aspects of the game presentation. Though Crush won several gaming awards, including PSP game of the month, it failed to meet the developer's sales expectations. The protagonist of the game, a young man named Danny, suffers from insomnia caused by worry, stress, and repressed memories. (more...

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Space Invaders (スペースインベーダー, Supēsu Inbēdā) is an arcade video game designed by Tomohiro Nishikado, and released in 1978. It was originally manufactured and sold by Taito in Japan, and was later licensed for production in the United States by the Midway division of Bally. Space Invaders is one of the earliest shooting games and features two-dimensional graphics. The aim is to defeat waves of aliens with a laser cannon and earn as many points as possible. In designing the game, Nishikado drew inspiration from popular media: Breakout, The War of the Worlds, and Star Wars. To complete it, he had to design custom hardware and development tools.

Though simplistic by today's standards, it was one of the forerunners of modern video gaming and helped expand the video game industry from a novelty to a global industry. When first released, Space Invaders was very successful and popular. The game has been blamed for causing a temporary shortage of 100-yen coins in Japan following its release, and by 2007 had earned Taito US$500 million in revenue. Guinness World Records ranks it the top arcade game. The game has been the inspiration for other video games, re-released on numerous platforms, and led to several sequels. (more...)

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StarCraft: Ghost is a military science fiction stealth-action video game under suspended development by Blizzard Entertainment. Part of Blizzard's StarCraft series, the game was announced in 2002 and was to be developed by Nihilistic Software for the Nintendo GameCube, Xbox, and PlayStation 2 video game consoles. Several delays in development caused Blizzard to move back the release date and the game has not yet materialized. Nihilistic Software ceded development to Swingin' Ape Studios in 2004 before Blizzard bought the company, and plans for the GameCube version were canceled in 2005. Blizzard announced in March 2006 that the game is on "indefinite hold" while the company investigated seventh generation video game console possibilities. Subsequent public statements from company personnel have been contradictory about whether production will be renewed or planned story elements will be worked into other products. The continued delay of Ghost has caused it to be labeled as vaporware, and it was ranked fifth in Wired News' annual Vaporware Awards in 2005. Although Blizzard Entertainment refuses to list it as such, video game journalism outlets including IGN and GameSpot list Ghost as canceled. Unlike its real-time strategy predecessor StarCraft, Ghost is a third-person shooter, and was intended to give players a closer and more personal view of the StarCraft universe. (more...)

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The World Ends with You, released in Japan as It's a Wonderful World (すばらしきこのせかい, Subarashiki Kono Sekai, literally "This Wonderful World"), is an action role-playing game developed by Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts team and Jupiter for the Nintendo DS handheld console. Set in the modern-day Shibuya shopping district of Tokyo, The World Ends with You features a distinctive art style inspired by the aesthetics of Shibuya and its youth culture. Development was inspired by elements of Jupiter's previous game, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. It was released in Japan in July 2007, and in PAL regions and North America in April 2008.

In the game, Neku Sakuraba and his allies are forced to participate in a game that will determine their fate. The battle system uses many of the unique features of the Nintendo DS, including combat that takes place on both screens, and attacks performed by certain motions on the touchscreen or by shouting into the microphone. Elements of Japanese youth culture, such as fashion, food, and cell phones, are key aspects of the missions. The World Ends with You received positive reviews, which praised the graphics, soundtrack, and integration of gameplay into the Shibuya setting. (more...)

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Myst IV: Revelation is the fourth installment in the Myst computer game series, developed and published by Ubisoft. Revelation was the first game in the series released exclusively on a DVD-ROM format; a multiple CD-ROM version was not produced as it would have taken twelve compact discs to fit all the data. Like Myst III: Exile, Revelation combines pre-rendered graphics with digital video, but also features real-time 3D effects for added realism.

The plot of Revelation ties up loose ends from the original Myst. The player is summoned by Atrus, a man who creates links to other worlds known as Ages by writing special linking books. Nearly twenty years earlier, Atrus' two sons nearly destroyed all of Atrus' linking books and were imprisoned; Atrus wishes to see if his sons' imprisonment has reformed them. The player ends up traveling to each brother's prison, in an effort to recover Atrus' daughter Yeesha from the brothers' plot.

Development of Revelation lasted more than three years; Ubisoft had as many as eighty employees working on the game. Musician Peter Gabriel lent his voice and a song to the game's audio; the original score was written by Exile's composer Jack Wall. (more...)

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Mario Power Tennis, known in Japan as Mario Tennis GC (マリオテニスGC), is a sports game developed by Camelot Software Planning and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo GameCube in 2004. The game is the sequel to the Nintendo 64 title Mario Tennis, and is the fourth game in the Mario Tennis series. Power Tennis was released in Japan on October 28, 2004, in North America on November 8, 2004, and in Europe on February 25, 2005. The game will be re-released for the Wii in 2009 as part of the Enjoy with Wii collection of titles, featuring Nintendo GameCube games with added Wii controls.

Power Tennis incorporates multiple characters, themes, and locations from the Mario series. The game includes standard tennis matches, but contains variants such as different scoring formats and objectives. Other variants include "Gimmick" courts, thematic areas with components and properties that directly affect gameplay. The game features 18 playable characters, each categorised by their style of play and each with a pair of unique moves known as "Power Shots". Power Tennis was developed simultaneously with Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour, and the pair shared similar technology and concepts with each other during production. (more...)

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Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games (マリオ&ソニック AT 北京オリンピック, Mario ando Sonikku atto Pekin Orinpikku, lit. "Mario & Sonic at the Beijing Olympics") is a sports game developed by Sega. It was published by Nintendo for Japan and by Sega for North America, Europe and any remaining region. The game is officially licensed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) through exclusive licensee International Sports Multimedia. The game is the first official crossover title to feature characters from both Mario and Sonic The Hedgehog's respective universes. It was released on the Nintendo Wii in November 2007 and the Nintendo DS handheld in early 2008, and is the first official video game of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.

Mario & Sonic on the Wii and DS is a collection of twenty-four events based on the Olympic Games. Players can assume the role of a Nintendo or Sega character while competing against the others in these events. Players use the Wii Remote to mimic actions performed in real life sports, such as swinging a paddle. The DS version utilize the stylus and button controls. Both games closely follow rules and regulations of the specific sports. Sega adopted the IOC's mission of promoting a sporting spirit and its desire to interest young people in the Olympics by using its characters. (more...)

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Conan is a 2007 action-adventure video game that puts players in control of the titular hero, Conan the Barbarian, from Robert E. Howard's fantasy literature. The game was published by THQ for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 game consoles. Its developer, Nihilistic Software, was inspired by the God of War and Ninja Gaiden video games to create an experience featuring gore and nudity.

In Conan, the hero is on a quest to recover his lost armor and defeat an evil wizard. Conan can fight with sword and shield, two-handed weapons, or a weapon in each hand. Starting with several basic attacks, the barbarian gains experience points by killing enemies. By exchanging these points for additional attacks, players improve the hero's fighting abilities. Magic powers complement Conan's arsenal, including the abilities to turn enemies into stone and conjure firestorms. The game also features context-sensitive action sequences in which players press a sequence of buttons displayed on the screen to complete actions such as killing powerful enemies and interacting with the environment. Critics enjoyed Conan's combat system and gory kills, but said that the game failed to match the experience offered in God of War. (more...)

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Half-Life 2: Episode One is the first in a trilogy of episodes that serve as the sequel for the 2004 first-person shooter video game Half-Life 2. It was developed by Valve Corporation and released on June 1, 2006. Originally called Half-Life 2: Aftermath, the game was later renamed to Episode One after Valve became confident in using an episodic structure for the game. Similar to Half-Life 2, Episode One also uses the Source game engine. The engine received substantial upgrades since the release of Half-Life 2; the artificial intelligence was improved, and computer-controlled characters were given the ability to comment on objects the player manipulated and obstacles they overcame.

The game's events take place immediately after those in Half-Life 2, in and around war-torn City 17. Episode One follows scientist Gordon Freeman and his companion Alyx Vance as they fight in humanity's continuing struggle against the alien race known as the Combine. When the story begins, Gordon wakes up outside the enemy's base of operations, the Citadel, after being left unconscious from the concluding events of Half-Life 2. During the course of the game, Gordon travels with Alyx as they attempt to evacuate the city. (more...)

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Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is a first-person action-adventure game developed by Retro Studios and published by Nintendo for the Wii video game console. It is the tenth game in the Metroid series, and the final entry in the Metroid Prime trilogy—excluding two spin-off titles. It was released in North America and Europe in 2007, and in Japan the following year. The Wii Remote and Nunchuk devices are featured in a new control scheme that took a year to develop and caused the game's release to be delayed several times.

Corruption is set six months after the events of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. The story follows bounty hunter Samus Aran as she assists the Galactic Federation in its fight against the Space Pirates. While fending off a Space Pirate assault, Samus and her fellow bounty hunters are attacked by her doppelgänger, Dark Samus, who incapacitates them with a mutagenic material called Phazon. After Samus loses contact with the other hunters, the Federation sends Samus on a mission to determine what happened to them. During the course of the game, Samus works to prevent the Phazon from spreading from planet to planet while being slowly corrupted by the Phazon herself. The game was first shown to the public at the E3 2005 trade show. (more...)

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Ico (イコ, Iko, /ˈk/) is a 2001 action-adventure video game published by Sony Computer Entertainment and released for the PlayStation 2 video game console. It was designed and directed by Fumito Ueda, who wanted to create a minimalist game around a "boy meets girl" concept. Originally planned for the PlayStation, Ico took approximately four years to develop. The team employed a "subtracting design" approach to reduce elements of gameplay that interfered with the game's setting and story in order to create a high level of immersion.

The titular protagonist is a young boy with horns whom his village considers a bad omen. Warriors lock Ico away in an abandoned fortress. During his explorations of the fortress, Ico encounters Yorda, the daughter of the castle's Queen, who plans to use Yorda's body to extend her own lifespan. Ico seeks to escape the castle with Yorda to prevent this fate from occurring, keeping her safe from the shadow-like creatures that attempt to draw her back. Throughout the game, the player controls Ico as he explores the castle, solves puzzles, and assists the less-agile Yorda across obstacles. Ico introduced several design and technical elements, including a story told with minimal dialog, bloom lighting and key frame animation, that have influenced subsequent games. (more...)

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Myst V: End of Ages is a 2005 adventure video game, and the fifth and final installment in the Myst series. The game was developed by Cyan Worlds, published by Ubisoft, and released for Macintosh and Windows PC platforms on September 20, 2005. As in previous games in the series, End of Ages's gameplay consists of navigating worlds known as "Ages" via the use of special books and items which act as portals. On each Age, the player solves puzzles and discovers story clues hidden in the Ages or written down in diaries and journals. The player's actions in the game decide the fate of the ancient D'ni civilization.

In a departure from previous titles in the Myst series, End of Ages replaces pre-rendered environments with worlds rendered in realtime 3D graphics, allowing players to freely navigate the Ages. The faces of voice actors were digitally mapped onto three-dimensional character models to preserve realism. Cyan paid attention to making the game more accessible to new players by the addition of multiple methods of navigation and an in-game camera. Myst creator Rand Miller decided to give players the ability to decide the fates of the game's characters as a gift to Myst fans. (more...)

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Metroid Prime 2: Echoes is a first-person, action-adventure video game developed by Retro Studios and published by Nintendo for the GameCube video game console. It is the seventh game in the Metroid series, a direct sequel to Metroid Prime, and the first game in the series with a multiplayer feature. Echoes was released in North America, Europe, and Australia in 2004, and in Japan in 2005. The game will be re-released for the Wii in 2009 with updated graphics and added Wii controls as part of the Play on Wii selection.

The events of Echoes are set in an indefinite period of time after Metroid Prime. The story follows bounty hunter Samus Aran after she is sent to rescue Galactic Federation Marines from a ship near Aether, a planet inhabited by a race known as the Luminoth. There, she discovers that the troops were slaughtered by the Ing, an evil race that came from an alternate dimension of Aether. Samus must travel to three temples to ensure the destruction of the Ing, while battling Space Pirates and her mysterious doppelgänger called Dark Samus.

Retro decided to make the game different from its predecessor by adding more focus on storyline and including new gameplay elements. Nintendo launched a viral marketing campaign to promote the game that included several websites written as if taking place in the Metroid universe. Echoes' single player mode and graphics were praised by critics, while its steep difficulty level and multiplayer components were met less positively. Since its release, Echoes has received several video game industry awards, as well as spots on "top games" lists by Nintendo Power and IGN. Over 470,000 copies of the game were sold in North America in 2004. (more...)

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Marble Madness is an arcade video game designed by Mark Cerny, and published by Atari Games in 1984. It is a platform game where the player must guide an onscreen marble through six courses, populated with obstacles and enemies, within a time limit. The player controls the marble by using a trackball. Marble Madness is known for using innovative game technologies. It was one of the first games to use true stereo sound—previous games used either monaural sound or simulated stereo—and it was Atari's first to use the Atari System 1 hardware and to be programmed in the C programming language.

In designing the game, Cerny drew inspiration from miniature golf, racing games, and artwork by M. C. Escher. He aimed to create a game that offered a distinct experience with a unique control system. Cerny applied a minimalist approach in designing the appearance of the game's courses and enemies. Throughout development, he was frequently impeded by limitations in technology and had to forgo several design ideas. Upon its release, Marble Madness was commercially successful, becoming a profitable arcade game. Praise among critics focused on the game's difficulty, unique visual design, and stereo soundtrack. (more...)

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Half-Life 2: Lost Coast is an additional level for the 2004 first-person shooter video game Half-Life 2. Developed by Valve Software, it was released on October 27, 2005 through the Steam content delivery service as a free download to owners of the Microsoft Windows version of Half-Life 2. Lost Coast serves as a technology demonstration, specifically showcasing the high dynamic range rendering implemented in the Source engine. The level was designed with a variety of appropriate environments to emphasize these effects. In addition, Lost Coast was the first video game developed by Valve to allow developers to explain various elements of design as the player progresses through the level.

Lost Coast follows Half-Life protagonist Gordon Freeman as he travels up a coastal cliff to destroy a Combine artillery launcher in a monastery, which is firing on a nearby town. The Lost Coast level was originally created for Half-Life 2, but was ultimately removed from the game. As a result, it has several minor story details that were not included in Half-Life 2. The level received a generally positive reception, and there was consensus among reviewers that the new features included in Lost Coast should be integrated into future games released by Valve. (more...)

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The Simpsons Game is an action/platformer video game based on the animated television series The Simpsons, made for the Wii, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS, and PlayStation Portable. The game was developed, published, and distributed by Electronic Arts; it was released in North America in October 2007 and worldwide in November 2007. It features an original storyline written by Tim Long, Matt Selman, and Matt Warburton. In the self-referential plot, the family discovers that they are forced to participate in another The Simpsons video game. Similar to the show, the game pokes fun at popular culture, other video games, and Electronic Arts, its publisher.

The game follows the five Simpson family members — Homer, Marge (with Maggie), Bart, and Lisa — who learn they are part of a video game and are given superpowers to resolve several situations. Eventually, they must save their 8-bit predecessors from Will Wright, the game's antagonist and the creator of their video game character selves. The Simpson family travels to four scenarios in parodies of other games to collect key cards used to infiltrate their creator's mansion and ultimately to save their predecessors from destruction. Video game critics gave the game a mixed reaction. (more...)

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The Simpsons Hit & Run is an action-adventure video game based on the animated sitcom The Simpsons. It was released for the GameCube, Xbox, PlayStation 2, and Windows in the United States on September 16, 2003 and in Europe on October 31, 2003. The game was developed by Radical Entertainment and published by Vivendi Universal. To make the game more involving, the story and dialogue were crafted by writers from The Simpsons, with all character voices supplied by the actual cast.

The game follows the Simpson family and the citizens of Springfield, who witness several strange incidents that occur in Springfield. When the Simpsons take matters into their own hands, they discover that aliens Kang and Kodos are filming a reality television series about the populace. To make the show more interesting, the aliens release Buzz Cola, a soda drink that makes people go insane, into Springfield's water supply. With help from Professor Frink, however, Homer is able to destroy the aliens' spaceship, and Springfield and its inhabitants are returned to normal. The game received generally favorable reviews from video game critics. Praise focused on the interpretation of the Simpsons television series as a video game and its parodical take on the Grand Theft Auto III video game, while criticism targeted its gameplay and graphics. (more...)

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New Super Mario Bros. is a side-scrolling platform video game published and developed by Nintendo for the Nintendo DS handheld game console. The game was released in North America and Japan in May 2006, in Australia and Europe in June 2006, and in Korea in March 2007. It is the first original side-scrolling platform game starring Mario since Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins in 1992, and it is the first game to be a part of the main Mario series of video games since Super Mario Sunshine in 2002.

The game's story is similar to those of other side-scrolling Mario games. New Super Mario Bros. follows the titular Mario as he fights his way through Bowser's henchmen to rescue Princess Peach. Mario has access to several power-ups that help him complete his quest, including the Super Mushroom, the Fire Flower, and the Starman, each giving him unique abilities. While traveling to eight worlds with ten levels in each, Mario must defeat Bowser Jr. and Bowser before finally saving Princess Peach. Reviews were generally favorable towards the game, which received an aggregated score of 89% from Metacritic. Praise focused on improvements made to the Mario franchise, while criticism targeted the game's simplicity. (more...)

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Danny Ledonne, creator of Super Colmbine Massacre RPG.

Super Columbine Massacre RPG!, abbreviated SCMRPG!, is a role-playing video game created by Danny Ledonne and released in April 2005. The game recreates the 1999 Columbine High School shootings near Littleton, Colorado. Players assume the roles of gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and act out the massacre, with flashbacks relating parts of Harris and Klebold's past experiences. The game begins on the day of the shootings and follows Harris and Klebold after their suicides to fictional adventures in perdition.

Ledonne had spent many years conceptualizing games, but never created one due to his lack of game design and programming knowledge. He was inspired to create a video game about Columbine by his own experience being bullied and the effect the shooting had on his life. The game represents a critique of how traditional media sensationalized the shooting (in particular the role of video games), as well as parodying video games themselves. Super Columbine Massacre was created with ASCII's game development program RPG Maker 2000 and took approximately six months to complete. Ledonne initially published the game anonymously, releasing an artist's statement about the work after his identity was revealed. Super Columbine Massacre was released for free online and attracted little attention until 2006. (more...)

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The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II, abbreviated BFME2, is a real-time strategy video game developed and published by Electronic Arts. It is based on the fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien and its live-action film trilogy adaptation. The game is the sequel to Electronic Art's 2004 title The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth. The Windows version of the game was released on March 2, 2006 and the Xbox 360 version was released on July 5, 2006. Along with the standard edition, a Collector's Edition of the game was released, containing bonus material and a documentary about the game's development.

The story for BFME2 is divided into Good and Evil Campaigns. The Good Campaign focuses on Glorfindel, an Elf, who is alerted to a planned attack on the Elven sanctuary of Rivendell. With help from the Dwarves and other Good forces, the Elves attempt to eliminate Sauron and his army to restore peace in Middle-earth. In the Evil Campaign, Sauron sends the Mouth of Sauron and the Nazgûl to muster wild Goblins. With his army, Sauron moves forward with his plan to destroy the remaining Good forces in the North. (more...)

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Star Wars: Rogue Squadron (known as Star Wars: Rogue Squadron 3D on the PC) is an arcade-style action game co-developed by Factor 5 and LucasArts. It was published by LucasArts and Nintendo and released for the Nintendo 64 and Windows. The first of three games in the Rogue Squadron series, it was released for Windows on December 3, 1998, with a Nintendo 64 version released four days later. Rogue Squadron was one of the first games to take advantage of the Nintendo 64's Expansion Pak, which allows gameplay at a 640 × 480 display resolution, instead of that system's standard 320 × 240 resolution.

Set in the fictional Star Wars galaxy and inspired by the Star Wars: X-wing Rogue Squadron comics, the game takes place primarily between events in the films Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. The player controls Luke Skywalker, commander of the elite X-wing pilots known as Rogue Squadron. As the game progresses, Skywalker and Rogue Squadron fight the Galactic Empire in sixteen missions across various planets. Rogue Squadron received generally positive reviews. Critics praised the game's technical achievements and flight controls, but its use of distance fog and the lack of a multiplayer mode drew criticism. (more...)

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Sam & Max: Freelance Police was a graphic adventure computer game developed by LucasArts from 2002 until its cancellation in 2004. The final game in the company's adventure game era, LucasArts originally intended to release Freelance Police for Windows in early 2004 as a sequel to the 1993 title Sam & Max Hit the Road. The game was based on the characters Sam and Max: an anthropomorphic dog and "hyperkinetic rabbity thing who debuted in a 1987 comic book series created by Steve Purcell. Freelance Police was announced in August 2002, and showcased at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in 2003. Like its predecessor, Freelance Police was designed as a point-and-click adventure game, but used a 3D game engine in place of the SCUMM and GrimE engines used in older LucasArts adventure games. The project's development was led by Michael Stemmle, one of the original designers for Sam & Max Hit the Road, while Steve Purcell assisted in developing the game's plot and providing artistic direction. Although the game's development appeared to be proceeding towards completion without difficulty, LucasArts abruptly canceled production of Freelance Police in March 2004, citing economic and market conditions. The game's cancellation was received poorly by fans of the series, Steve Purcell, and the video game industry media. (more...)

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Uru: Ages Beyond Myst is an adventure video game developed by Cyan Worlds and published by Ubisoft. Released in 2003, the title is the fourth game in the Myst series. Departing from previous games of the franchise, Uru takes place in the modern era and allows players to customize their onscreen avatars. Players use their avatars to explore the abandoned city of an ancient race known as the D'ni, uncover story clues and solve puzzles.

Cyan began developing Uru shortly after completing Riven in 1997, leaving future Myst sequels to be produced by third party developers. Uru required five years and $12 million to complete. Uru was initially conceived as a multiplayer game; the single-player portion was released, but the multiplayer component, Uru Live, was delayed and eventually canceled. The online video game service GameTap released the multiplayer portion of Uru as Myst Online: Uru Live in February 2007, but the service was canceled again the following year due to a lack of subscribers. GameTap passed the rights to Uru Live back to Cyan, who announced their intention to resurrect the game. Uru was not as well received as previous Myst titles. (more...)

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Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, also called Soul Reaver, is a third-person action-adventure video game developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Eidos Interactive. It was released for the PlayStation and Microsoft Windows in 1999 and for the Dreamcast in 2000. As the second game in the Legacy of Kain series, Soul Reaver is the sequel to Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. Soul Reaver was followed by three games, one of which, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2, is a direct sequel.

Taking place 1500 years after the events of Blood Omen, Soul Reaver chronicles the journey of the vampire-turned-wraith Raziel, lieutenant to the vampire lord Kain. Raziel is killed by Kain, but is revived by The Elder God to become his "soul reaver" and to exact revenge. Raziel shares this title with Kain's sword, Soul Reaver, which he acquires during the game.

Crystal Dynamics began development of the game in 1997, but a deteriorating relationship with Silicon Knights, who had developed Blood Omen, created legal problems. This and other delays forced material originally planned for Soul Reaver to be instead released with later games of the series. The game was generally well received by critics and praised for its eerie atmosphere, including graphics, and intriguing gothic story. (more...)

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ShadowTheHedgehogMap vector.svg

Shadow the Hedgehog is a 2005 video game developed by Sega Studio USA, the former United States division of Sega's Sonic Team. Featuring the titular fictional character Shadow the Hedgehog from Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog series, Shadow the Hedgehog is the third game (and the last in the Sonic series) developed by Sega Studio USA. Following the trend of recent Sonic games such as Sonic Adventure and Sonic Heroes, Shadow the Hedgehog is a 3D platform game. Most levels have three possible missions—"Hero", "Dark", or "Normal"—that the player may choose to complete; some levels have only two (which mostly are only "Hero" and "Dark"). The missions completed determine the game's plot, a feature referenced by the game's tagline, "Hero or villain? You decide." The plot centers on the attempt of Shadow, a creation of Doctor Eggman's grandfather Gerald Robotnik, to learn about his past after suffering from amnesia. To defeat enemies encountered, Shadow can use various weapons and special attacks. Shadow the Hedgehog was created for the Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Xbox video game consoles. It received mixed to negative reviews; critics criticized its unwelcome "dark" theme, particularly the addition of guns and other weapons, but praised its replay value.

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The logo for Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss

Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss is a first-person role-playing video game released in March 1992 for IBM PC compatible systems running DOS. Set in the fantasy world of the Ultima series, it was developed by Blue Sky Productions (later Looking Glass Studios). The protagonist has to find and rescue a baron's kidnapped daughter from an underground cave system that contains the remnants of a failed utopian civilization. It introduced many technological innovations and has been hailed as the first first-person perspective role-playing game with 3D computer graphics. Although it was not an immediate commercial success, the effects of critical acclaim and word of mouth caused sales to reach nearly 500,000. The game has been highly influential. It is said to have inspired "all 3D RPG titles from Morrowind to World of Warcraft", and the designers of BioShock, Tomb Raider and other major 3D games have cited it as an inspiration for their own work. It resulted in one sequel, 1993's Ultima Underworld II: Labyrinth of Worlds.

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Chris Avellone, lead designer of Planescape: Torment

Planescape: Torment is a computer role-playing game (RPG) developed for Windows by Black Isle Studios (lead designer Chris Avellone pictured) and released on December 12, 1999, by Interplay Entertainment. It takes place in Planescape, a Dungeons & Dragons fantasy campaign setting. The game is primarily story-driven; combat is given less prominence than in most contemporary RPGs. The protagonist is an immortal who has lost his name, lived many lives, and forgotten them. The game focuses on his journey to reclaim his memories of these previous lives. The game was not a significant commercial success but received widespread critical praise for its immersive dialog, the dark Planescape setting, and the protagonist's unique persona, which shirked many characteristics of traditional RPGs. It was considered by many video game journalists to be the best RPG of 1999, and as a cult classic continues to receive attention long after its release.

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Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy is a multi-platform action-adventure video game developed by Traveller's Tales and published by LucasArts and TT Games. It was released on September 11, 2006. Part of the Lego Star Wars series, it is based on the Star Wars science fiction media franchise and Lego Group's Star Wars-themed toy line. It follows the events of the Star Wars films A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The game allows players to assume the roles of over 50 Lego versions of characters from the film series; customized characters can also be created. Camera movement was improved from its predecessor—Lego Star Wars: The Video Game—and the concept of "vehicle levels" was explored more thoroughly. Lego Star Wars II was highly anticipated because of its predecessor's success, and was revealed at American International Toy Fair 2006. Promotions for the game were set up at chain stores across the United States.

Lego Star Wars II was critically and commercially successful; it became the third-highest selling video game of 2006 and has sold over 8.2 million copies worldwide as of May 2009. Critics praised the game for its comedic and "adorable" portrayal of the film series and for their preference of the original trilogy to the prequel trilogy. However, the game's low difficulty, and its Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS versions in general, were received more poorly. The game received awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and Spike TV, among others. A mobile phone adaptation was later developed by Universomo, published by THQ, and released on December 19, 2006. Lego Star Wars and Lego Star Wars II were compiled in Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga, released on November 6, 2007. (more...)

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The Beatles: Rock Band is a music video game developed by Harmonix Music Systems, published by MTV Games and distributed by Electronic Arts. It is the third major console release in the Rock Band music video game series and, like other games in the series, it allows players to simulate the playing of rock music by using controllers shaped like musical instruments. The game's soundtrack consists of 45 songs by popular British rock group The Beatles and features virtual depictions of the band members performing the songs. Additional songs and albums by The Beatles will be made available for the game as downloadable content.

The game was released internationally on 9 September 2009, coinciding with the release of new, remastered compact disc versions of The Beatles albums. It incorporates many of the gameplay features of the Rock Band series; however, it is not an expansion pack for the Rock Band series, and content for it and other Rock Band titles is not cross-compatible. Harmonix co-founder Alex Rigopulos described the game as "... a new, full game title production built from the ground up." Gameplay mechanics differ slightly from previous Rock Band games, including the addition of a three-part vocal harmony system. (more...)

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Arbiter is a fictional ceremonial, religious and political rank bestowed upon alien Covenant Elites in the Halo science fiction universe. In the 2004 video game Halo 2, the rank is given to a disgraced commander as a way to atone for his failures. Although the Arbiter is intended to die serving the Covenant leadership, the High Prophets, he survives his missions and the Prophets' subsequent betrayal of his kind. When he learns that the Prophets' plans would doom all life in the galaxy to extinction, the Arbiter allies with the Covenant's enemies—humanity—and stops the ringworld Halo from being activated. The Arbiter is a playable character in Halo 2 and its 2007 sequel Halo 3; a different Arbiter appears in the 2009 real-time strategy game Halo Wars, which takes place 20 years before the events of the main trilogy.

The appearance of the Arbiter in Halo 2 and the change in perspective from the main human protagonist Master Chief to a former enemy was a plot twist Halo developer Bungie kept highly secret. The character's name was changed from "Dervish" after concerns that the name reinforced a perceived United States versus Islam allegory in the game's plot. (more...)

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