5. Metal Gear Rising
I so remember first hearing about Metal Gear Rising. I did know of Metal Gear around this time, but to be honest I only knew of the fourth game. Hell, I never even played any of those games after Rising. So, Rising was my first Metal Gear game and I am so glad I did. I felt it was a great way to introduce me to the overall franchise. The story was focused on its own path and did not really spoil anything about the past games either. The amount of humor and political satire was strong and on top of that it has some great action with amazing characters. At times, I will always find that one person saying the characters are not memorable and yet I just cannot see that. Ever since Armstrong was introduced, the internet was full of “Nanomachines son.” Even to this day I love using Monsoons quote about memes. Then Jetstream Sam is possibly tied with Raiden for my favorite Metal Gear character. So, one of the few gripes with this game is that it is quite short compared to other action games. The development of this game had to be quite fast since Platinum was just brought on so late into it. It is amazing how much they got done though and what a polished product it is. The parring system is by far one of the best mechanics in action games, this is up there with Nero’s grappling abilities and Dante’s style changes. It is precise all the time, it can be a bit overused, but enemies and mostly bosses will have attacks where that will not work. Also parrying is just blocking the attack you are going to get nowhere fast if you focus on a defensive stance for too long. Even the engine with how anything can get cut is beyond mind blowing to me and then we have the nice visuals when you cut through those annoying foes. Mostly because you can rip out electronic spines out from them or just make them into mush. The game even has a great challenge mode and the great DLC which is free right now if I am correct. You get to play as two of the bosses from the game and they play incredibly different from Raiden. Then there are even challenges for those two characters and one gets a new boss fight. This is then also by far one of the best soundtracks in an action game as those rock tracks with intense vocals and well written lyrics just give many fights the additional amount of excitement. Metal Gear Rising is a smaller package compared to other games on this list, but it just shines brightly just like the others.
4. Devil May Cry 3
Now we are getting to where Dante has been fully revived after the abysmal second game of the franchise. Dante in the second game barely ever talked and it killed his cool yet goofy persona. Then comes the new game in the franchise where we start at the beginning of Dante’s story and how does it start? With Dante eating pizza like a glutton, breaking jukeboxes, using his foes as a skateboard, breaking ceiling fans, and then finishing things off with billiard balls. I do love the fourth game’s opening sequence more, but this is a close second. Not only was this a change for the better, the series pretty much helped out the genre in general. We had a huge arsenal of weapons that could be switched around, but you could only carry two at a time for both physical weapons and guns. Personally, I like that for a sense of challenge, but in the fourth game just having all the weapons is forgiving. That is a big reason why I do love the third game the most, it is a challenging game and the special edition proves how harder the game could get. This is then the game that got to showcase the beginning of Dante facing off with Vergil which is still my all-time favorite rivalry. Vergil has a character to overcome really meant a lot in both story and how it felt as a gamer. Vergil has always been a tough boss and then you get to play as him in the special edition! There are also ton of other bosses that are incredibly tough to beat if you are going in blind. This was also the introduction of different styles you can use to play leaving tons of freedom for your personal style. I was a trickster user for most of the time as dodging was extremely helpful in that game. Meanwhile I can see a weapon master dominating a boss through aggressive play. Other fun features were the exploration in this game, I felt it did better than the first game with some tricky rooms that will punish you for messing up, but at the same time if you want to risk it, you can farm for orbs there. The overall area felt large, but easy to explore at the same time. With the original game and four it felt a bit too linear which is not bad if you give a great amount of fights, but with the third game I felt like one of the challenges was finding the fastest way through the level. Overall this game is hard and yet so satisfying to defeat. So get yourself a pizza and have a blast.
I got a poster of this in my room!
3. Bayonetta 2
Now we finally get to Bayonetta! Now I will admit that the first game is another one of those fun challenges. At times though it can be out right unforgiving with those quick time events that lead into instant deaths all the time! Some of them even had awkward timing just making that even more of a hassle. Still Bayonetta one is pretty much the eleventh spot on this list. What makes Bayonetta two greater though? Well many things have been changed to be a bit more forgiving, but at the same time it leaves more of a challenge surprisingly. This time however the challenges are a bit more fun to do. What also helps is how the weapons feel in this game. I personally like some of the varied weapons and by that, I mean the ones that act differently than the first two weapons. In the second game, you had the Kafka which was an awesome poisonous bow and arrow. The whips were great for grapples and could lead to some bigger combos. Then there was the giant hammer which could do massive damage. My personal favorite was the Rakasha blades and having them on both hands and feet just made me ecstatic. Having some weapons being for both hands and feet was a strong idea and Bayonetta 1 only had that for the default weapons. There was even the new Climax Mode that replaced the wicked weaves that relies on how you can build meter. Bayonetta 2 also had more to do in terms of gameplay. There were more outfits to have that could have you play as different characters like Jeane (just like Bayo 1), Rodin, and even Rose! Bayonetta 2 also has one of the best boss fights of all time! The fight against the Masked Lumen in chapter four was beyond amazing. It was fast and chaotic and yet I could tell what was going on. What also improved this game from the original was how it spliced in minigame sections, it reminded me of how Wonderful 101 did it where it just felt natural. One of those moments being a fight where you play as Madama Butterfly and even have a Star Fox like shooter section (if you got the Star Fox outfit on, you get to control an Arwing!) The other big factor to me was how Bayonetta was in this game, back then she had no memories and to be honest the amnesia cliché gets annoying at times. With the second game, Bayo had all her memories and with that had all of her attitude and the new design just felt better for her. Bayonetta 2 is easily just one of the best games ever and to be honest is better than what my number two and one on this list. Still this is a personal list and if you know me, you know what I have for my top two.
Still one of the best fights ever!
Before getting to the top two of this list I want to give honor to some other titles that deserve some love.
What an insane game this is! If you want to see how a speed runner plays an action game, then God Hand is that title. God Hand really gets rewarding if you remember the level design and how you use the combat abilities. On top of that it is easy to remember thanks to a fun presentation and crazy boss fights. It may not be special in its story, but this game sure is wacky and fun with it.
This is the game my childhood always wanted and to top it off, it actually has some strong mechanics as well. Metal Gear Rising’s director helped out with this title so there were similar mechanics like parrying and this game even uses a Witch Time like function. Along with that all playable characters felt different and leaves room for freedom of how to play. The different weapons and upgrading them with stats or simply making them into stronger weapons was a great system. There were some great boss battles like the ones with Devastator and Shockwave. I do wish there was a Decepticon version where you get to play as Megatron, Starscream, Soundwave, Shockwave, and maybe someone like Cyclonis or make minigame sections with Soundwave’s little robots or a giant section with Devastator. Either way what we got so far was a strong title and I cannot wait for the sequel.
Even if this title is a bit more of an action RPG, it still counts as an action game none the less. To me this is how a good 3D Castlevannia can be done. It has a great area to explore with multiple levels and nice puzzles that remind me of DMC in some ways. The chain mechanic which could easily be a whip was strong with how it clings to the environment and the monsters’ skin. That with the boss fights were incredible as you have to find their weak points and literally rip their flesh off can be a nice challenge. Along with that there is a time limit that is fair, but none the less does give you a sense of caution all the time. Overall it is a fun and unique title to experience and this was another game saved by Operation Rainfall, so thank you again for that.
2. No More Heroes 2 Desperate Struggle
So, if this is the first time reading any of my articles regarding No More Heroes, this is possibly my favorite franchise. Sure, there are only two games with the first game being ported to the 360 and PS3, but anything that continues is a franchise. There is actually a bit more to No More Heroes as well as there is a short-animated feature for the series and a unique music collection that does continue the story in an odd way and that is saying something. To start off my love for No More Heroes I am going with the sequel and I can admit that the second game has some better mechanics than the original. First is the function of being able to change weapons on the fly and not just dealing with getting a more powerful Beam Katana after the other. This leaves room for a bit of freedom on how to play as there is the standard Blood Berry which is average in all categories. The previously strongest sword gets downgraded for the sequel and is now called the Camellia as it may be weaker than the standard, but the speed of this blade and combo potential is higher, the blade also has a better chance at making people dizzy and lifting them in the air. The Peony is a large and slow weapon that grows bigger as the Ecstasy Meter gets filled, you can go to some insane lengths with that blade. Then we got the Rose Nasty which is the fastest, but it will lose charge quickly, no worries though as it is fast to recharge. Other than that, some of the level design is stronger than the first game with one being this huge mall level where you start out clearing out a gauntlet of men in the parking lot and then climbing up the mall with many people hiding in the isles. Now there are certain things that hold this game back though. The sequel tried to use different playable characters with Shinobu for two levels and Henry Cooldown for one boss fight. Personally, I think Henry should have more to do mostly because playing as Shinobu can get annoying. Also, her boss fights did get some hindrances because of that as well. Then there is the ending of the second game which has one annoying final boss fight with the second form being ungodly evil. The first and third forms are too easy though and really kills the momentum. I will say the build up to the final boss was strong with three of those bosses being some of my favorites for games in general. The mini games got better in the second game by doing 8-bit inspired games, except for the scorpion mini game which got worse in this title. Then getting stronger had a bit more of a challenge with a rhythm styled game which is fun, but those higher levels are brutal, at least the game is forgiving about how many times you can screw up. Then there were Revenge Missions which are okay I guess, just kind of felt flat, especially we were killing the men who killed an important friend to Travis and they just get side content. The music is also stronger in this title with Kill or be Killed and Philistine being songs I just listen to on a daily basis. Then the story is still as silly as ever, but it surprisingly had some dramatic moments which actually worked for what this game was doing over the original. One of the final factors to this title is how it looks. The game looks fantastic considering it is a Wii title and has some lovely areas to look at. It goes for this semi HD look as the character models are strong as well. Overall, No More Heroes 2 is a close second, but the original title to me is stronger.
Still to this day my favorite boss character.
1. No More Heroes
I have gone into the depths of hell for this game. I literally have done a nine-page essay and even extended it for this game. There is no doubt that I love No More Heroes. While the second game has some lovely features to it and looks gorgeous. The original No More Heroes feels better as a complete package. There are less boss fights in this game, but there is only like one that is boring. Then there is even like one or two others ones that do feel easy and yet they are still well designed fights. The second game easily had more flubs with some of their boss fights or just add in some horrible mechanics like the motorcycle fight! The original game did play it a bit safer compared to the sequel and that is only because the first game was a pretty risky title already. No More Heroes 1 or 2 still keeps a strong unique taste to them. Liking one or the other more is quite fine it is up to how you taste the product itself. I enjoy the first title because of how complete this one feels compared to the sequel. First there is the city which you can explore and while not being the best I still prefer exploring that area for some odd reason. I am completely fine that it was gone in the sequel and yet I still love the oddly designed town of Santa Destroy in the first game. The level design in the first title is still strong as this title knew on how to vary things up. The good thing with the variations is that the controls were good and did not function like that terrible motorcycle fight in Desperate Struggle! Sorry, I just really hate that moment. Along with that the story felt more compact and rich thanks to each boss having something to do with a theme, while the second game did have some filler bosses. Then I do love the buildup in the second game more than the first, but the final two battles in the first game and leagues above the final fight in the sequel.
Another aspect I do love in this game is that is a great challenge game. In the first game, you would buy newer and stronger weapons, but you can always go back to the weaker ones. I did a challenge with this game on the hardest difficulty which is only unlockable through new game+ and I went through the game with the fewest upgrades possible. There are some limits to that as you are forced to start and end the game with the strongest beam katana, but with no other equips to it, it will be losing charge a lot so that is still a risky weapon right there considering who is at the end of the game. Still I accomplished that and felt great for it. In the second game, you can literally go no upgrades, but as I said before that final boss is so brutal with that, that it stops being a fun challenge. I did that once for Desperate Struggle and I had some leftover rage to deal with while in the first game, it felt accomplishing. One of those big reasons is how the combat felt in the first one. There is an ability called side step where in the middle of blocking attacks you can slide out and get more hits on any foe. This lead to reading the bosses movements and kind of expose weak points in how they fight. Some bosses will still dodge that though so be careful. While in Desperate Struggle it was harder to do that and when you did it did not have the payoff like it did in the first game. Then with the mini games I personally like them more because of the joke they imply. For some reason just standing around filling gas is just funny to me while I play No More Heroes. Then there were Assassination Missions which were just fights with bigger pay and then there was a challenge mode where you had special levels where you cannot get hit at all. I really did miss those from the sequel and I did all of them even with the challenge I was doing. To this day there is one gold medal I cannot get and that is the Old City mission because you need to kill tons of dudes to get that and the Blood Berry is not designed for that. Overall, No More Heroes as a game felt more complete as it has many modes and still a better ratio of bosses compared to the sequel.
Well this is a huge reason why I split this list because of my love for No More Heroes. Again, both the first and second games are not the greatest and I can admit the likes of Bayonetta and Devil May Cry are better games. Yet I will always put No More Heroes at the top because of the personal value I have with it. To me it is one of the most unique games out there in terms of story and game play. Then for how much I love Bayonetta and Dante, Travis is still my second favorite character of games. Suda 51 is my all-time favorite director and designer for video games because of how unique all his titles feel. Not to say anything terrible about Bayonetta, but it was being the successor to Devil May Cry while the series was on hiatus. Did Bayonetta do many things new, yes. Still that series was mostly created because of Devil May Cry 4, so the uniqueness is a bit lower. Then there are many other action games that just try to be Devil May Cry as well and yet I know of nothing else that feels like No More Heroes, hell even the sequel does not feel like the first game which is because Suda was not the head director of that title, but I still feel that he would have changed it up regardless since that is how he is. So, the unique flair is why I put No More Heroes at the top, but this is also why I love action games. There are many unique action games being made even now. As I said before the new Nier is taking on more of an action game approach and Scalebound is working with the idea of a semi-controllable partner in the middle of real time action. There is even Let It Die coming soon as it takes Dark Souls and makes into the crazy action game genre that I love. Even the reboot game called DmC still feels different from the main series which is why I still like the title and it is not the disaster Devil May Cry 2 was. That is why I love this genre, it still has the most unique titles and there are so many new things being done by the top developers for this genre. Hopefully Devil May Cry 5 will come soon.