Crono Maniac's Top 10 Games of 2011
by Crono Maniac

So it's the end of 2011, meaning it's time for all the various critical websites to spout off a fresh round of Top 10 lists to finish off the year. We here at Socks Make People Sexy are no exception, but being a very retro-bent community we don't feel the need to constrict ourselves to what came out recently. Instead, we're all just listing off a bunch of great games − old and new − that we played over the last twelve months. I hope you'll be interested anyway, since I can guarantee you that they each and every one of the next ten titles are worth your time.

10. Bastion (2011)

I didn't play very many games that came out this year. There's thousands of games out there, and many of the ones I'm most interested in came out twenty years ago when I wasn't alive. The only games of 2011 I sank any significant amount of time into were Portal 2 (awesome), Hard Corps Uprising (awesome), The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (bleeeeeh), another (awesome) game we'll get to later, and Bastion.

As a game, Bastion is fairly simple. It's mostly about exploring linear, isometric levels and fighting enemies with a steadily increasing arsenal of weaponry. You gain experience and currency from battling, and you can use the currencies to purchase upgrades for your weapons. Combat is brisk and exciting, and there's none of the overlong tutorials or general clutter that made Skyward Sword such a chore for me to play. Purely as a game, it's impossible to deny that Bastion is fun.

As a story, Bastion is excellent. It avoids most of the common pitfalls of video game storytelling by focusing the narrative on a strong, well-developed core cast of characters. It's introduces some pretty heavy concepts near the end, and it actually made me stop and think over some genuinely intriguing ideas. Still, it's not a complex narrative, and it wouldn't last a minute against some of the this year's better films or novels.

So it's a good story and a good game. On their own, neither of these things make Bastion great. What makes Bastion great, what makes it nearly a masterpiece, what makes it the ur-model for the perfect video game, is the skill with which it integrates both of these identities. Bastion has next to no cutscenes, preferring to convey its narrative through its masterfully-executed narration mechanic. It singlehandedly makes the bond between the story and the gameplay totally inseparable. The whole final act combines the two so beautifully in its last scene that it brought me tears. It's a game I kept playing because it was fun and because I wanted to find out what happens next. Not too many games can boast that.

Bastion ain't perfect. I've never cared much for the Resident Evil 4 kind of upgrade system since it usually seems overcomplicated and often wrecks the difficulty curve near the end, and Bastion doesn't really do anything to fix my gripes with the concept. Nevertheless, it's fun, interesting, and really pretty. It probably isn't better than Portal 2, but I think I like it a little more for all the positive things it represents from a development standpoint.

The studio behind Bastion did an interview on Reddit not too long ago, and one of the seven people on their staff said the following: "I think we [will] continue to try and make games that feel great while having a strong narrative that's directly connected to the play experience."

I've never heard a developer say so succinctly exactly what I want out of the medium. Here's looking at you, Supergiant Games, and any future titles you release.

9. Out of this World (1991)

Speaking of flawlessly integrating gameplay and story, here's a game from 1991 about man struggling to survive in a violently foreign universe that also happens to be incredibly fun. Out of this World (or Another World as it was originally titled) is a "cinematic platformer" in the vein of Prince of Persia, Blackthorne, Flashback, or Oddworld, designed in full by one Frenchman, Eric Chiahi.

Like those games, Out of this World controls "realistically" in the sense that "Lester Chaykin" can't jump more than a couple feet in the air or change direction on a dime. Unlike those games, Out of this World has a really awesome gun. Press the shoot button (which is also used for running, pulling levers, and kicking guards in the crotch) once to fire the gun. Hold it a second to make a shield. Hold it even longer to make a shield-destroying super-shot. You start off killing unarmed guards, then getting into simple one-on-one shooting matches, and then slowly graduate to holding off whole squadrons, making shields on stairs, and fighting enemies from multiple directions. If that sounds really fun, it's because it is.

The puzzles are great. Most adventure game puzzles rely on arcane moon logic that only makes sense in the developer's mind, but Out of this World's puzzles are all built on a firm foundation of common sense. Every solution feels perfectly natural; of course moving left to right like a swing would cause the cage to fall down; of course letting the guards roll down the grenades would make a hole in the floor; of course shooting the base of the pillar would cause it to topple over. The puzzles are all brilliantly conceived and actually fit into the context of the game world, which is rarer than you would think.

It looks amazing. Stories say that Chiahi first hatched the idea for the game when he saw a person playing Dragon's Lair and wondered if he could duplicate the slick, animated look using less storage space. The result is nothing short of flat-out gorgeous. Each screen is different and oozes atmosphere from its every pore. We never learn the location of this other world, but the graphics do a wonderful job impressing just how foreign everything about it is. The game is absolutely suffocating, and the bitter-tasting ending perfectly concludes the whole experience.

Suda51, Fumito Ueda, Shinji Murakami, and Hideo Kojima all cite Out of this World as the greatest game of all time. I think I understand where they're coming from. Simply put, Out of this World is great, and you should play it.

8. Grandia II (2000)

Grandia II feels like the game I've been waiting for since I was an eight year old playing Final Fantasy IV. It's not just because the surface scenario shares (and occasionally outright plagiarizes) certain elements from the renowned 16-bit masterpiece − it's that the entire experience feels like it was developed from the same mindset of Square employees back in 1991.

A lot of it is the phenomenal battle system. It's usually the first thing people talk about when Grandia gets brought up, and for good reason; it's far and away the best combat in any JRPG I've ever played. Imagine if Chrono Trigger had developed its distance variables more thoroughly and ramped up the speed a couple notches and you'll have a vague idea of the experience. It's fast paced and exciting, hampered only by overlong late-game spell animations (though not nearly to the degree of most other games in its era.) I imagine that playing Grandia II after comparatively-sluggish PSX RPGs like Final Fantasy VIII or Chrono Cross would feel like just as significant a jump as from Final Fantasy I to IV.

Then there's the story. Is it silly? Undoubtedly. Predictable? Certainly. During the climax, does the main hero point his sword towards the sky and monologue about how the power of the human spirit will always triumph over evil? Of course. Was I cheering him on the whole time? You know it.

Grandia II is the kind of story that's filled with so much pure joy that its impossible to be cynical in the face of all of its clichés and melodrama. How could I fault it for its comic-booky nature when it seems so gleeful about existing? And besides, putting the plot aside, the characters are all fairly well-developed and undergo interesting narrative arcs, and it clearly had a good amount of thought put into its themes, as basic as they are. That's all this type of story really needs.

JRPGs started moving away from their roots in Saturday-morning cartoons somehow around 1994, where games like Final Fantasy VI, EarthBound, and Chrono Trigger sought to infuse the genre with a higher level of artistic conscience and narrative significance. That's great − I love all of those games from the bottom of my heart − but I do miss the days when developers would sit around the table and say stuff like "You know what would be awesome? If Cecil and the gang flew to the moon on a giant space-boat." Final Fantasy IV is among the few JRPGs I replay for the same reasons I'm constantly booting up Ikaruga; to fight my way through swarms of unique enemies, maneuver my way through cleverly designed levels, battle awesome bosses, listen to amazing music, and just have fun. I imagine I'll be loading up Grandia II many times in the future to do just that.

7. Super Mario 3D Land (2011)

3D Mario and I have an interesting relationship. I've always liked and respected the games, Super Mario Galaxy 2 in particular, but I've never developed the same attachment to them I have for Super Mario World or Yoshi's Island. I always figured it was just me, that my nostalgia for the Mario games of my youth colored my views on the franchise. But after playing Super Mario 3D Land, I'm firmly convinced my feelings were right; this was what Mario was always meant to be in 3D. Super Mario 3D Land is amazingly, surprisingly, mind-blowingly good, to the point that I can't believe it took Nintendo this long to discover how wrong their approach was on all previous 3D Mario games.

Here is the 3D Mario with the same level of focus as Super Mario Bros. 3. Stages are short, linear, and dense. The only goal is always just to get to the flag at the end of the stage. The lone collectibles are the three star coins in every level, and they're always in easily spotted locations that require little searching. There are no star comets, no purple coins, no hub worlds, and there's next to nothing in the way of story. If Super Mario 64 is about exploring wide open sandboxes, finding secrets, and gathering stars, Super Mario 3D Land is about going that way.

There's a lot going that way to do as well. There are ninety-six levels, counting both the eight regular worlds and the eight special worlds (the latter are unlocked after the game's completion.) That's twenty-something more than Super Mario World. And the quality doesn't suffer at all from the quantity of stages − these are easily some of the most interesting, consistently fun pieces of design in the series. Some say the game is too easy. These people are lying fools who haven't gotten to Special World 8 and had the pleasure of tearing their hair out and burning through a hundred lives.

It's a shame Super Mario 3D Land got released on such a crappy system (it's probably the only title on the 3DS worth owning at the moment,) as that means its probably going to be ignored by mainstream audiences. My advice is to find someone who bought one of the two-hundred-fifty dollar paperweights (like me) and say you'll buy them the new Mario if they let you borrow their 3DS for a week. I assure you you'll be getting your money's worth out of the purchase. Game of the Year 2011, no contest.

6. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2002)

I'm a little late to the party on this one (and the next five entries for that matter,) but I recently played Zelda Wind Waker. "Play" probably isn't the best word; "devoured" might be the better choice. I tore this game to bits in less than a week − and I certainly wasn't rushing. I wasn't content to go fight Ganon until I'd explored every inch of the Hylian seas.

It's weird that I liked it so much since, in many respects, Wind Waker is pretty weak gameplay-wise. There's only six real dungeons, the stealth levels suck, the whole Triforce gathering quest near the end is blatant padding, and it's really easy. And yet, for some reason, I can't bring myself to care. Maybe it's because Zelda, to me, has always been more about the experience of being on an adventure than anything else, and Wind Waker feels more adventurous than any of the 3D Zeldas that preceded or followed it.

This game is huge. Ocarina of Time may have had better gameplay, but once you get the horse Hyrule Field takes thirty seconds to traverse and the whole game feels like it takes place in somebody's backyard. Skyward Sword's world map is just a glorified hub level with one town, several hundred featureless rocks, and portals to the three (largely linear) main gameplay areas. Wind Waker's overworld is gigantic, continuous, and densely packed with reasons to explore every tile. Yeah, it takes a while sail from place to place − that's the whole point. Frodo didn't walk across Middle Earth in an afternoon, and Zelda Wind Waker is the only 3D game in the series to feel like the kind of epic tale that deserves the word "legend" in the title.

The fact that it's also the prettiest game I've ever played helps. The cell-shaded graphics are gorgeous, but the best thing about it is the lengths it goes to avoid the 3D graphical glitches that have plagued every commercial release since 1997. When Link stands on a hill, his feet and legs slant. Games like Fallout or Elder Scrolls have graphics that approach photo-realism, but that means diddly-squat when half of my character's left leg vanishes into the side of a mountain. That the soundtrack is far and away the best in the series is just icing on the cake; the first time I played it, I booted up the intro three times before starting the game proper.

The story is also surprisingly thoughtful and well-conceived. It's definitely the best realized versions of each of the main characters, the newly tragic villain Ganondorf in particular. Depending on your mindset, the climax might even manage to top Ocarina of Time's. Zelda Wind Waker may not be perfect, but its perfectly realized story and aesthetics count for something − enough to be at number six on my list.

"The wind... it is blowing..."

5. Cave Story (2004)

If aliens descended from the skies and asked for one video game to take back to their people, I'd probably freak out because HOLY SHIT ALIENS. After I'd calmed down a bit, and seen that nobody with a calmer disposition had already fulfilled their demands, I'd give them a copy of Cave Story without a second thought. More than any other game I can think of, Cave Story is the perfect encapsulation of everything that has ever made the medium worthwhile.

What is there to say about Cave Story? It's a 2D platforming shooter where you run through mostly-linear levels, collecting power-ups, fighting bosses, and watching the occasional brisk cutscene. All of its virtues are simply the culmination of a couple dozen years of gaming history. The level design is peerless. The core mechanics are easy to learn and hard to master. The story has the same timeless and joyful narrative qualities of a top-tier old-school JRPG. The sprite work is extremely pretty, and the soundtrack is video-gamey in the best kind of way.

My favorite part of the game is the climb up the outside of the island. There's nothing particularly special about the area; all it does is introduce a couple new enemies and a gimmick where the powerups fall to the side instead of down. It's just a combination of the lovely scrolling background, the semi-melancholy BGM, and the quick, well-paced progression of the level. It just feels so perfect. It's what video games were always meant to be.

The fact that Cave Story was made by one Japanese salary man in his free time just makes it all the more incredible. God bless you Daisuke Amaya. Your brilliance probably would have been better spent trying to cure cancer or something, but making Cave Story is pretty great too.

4. EarthBound/Mother 2 (1994)

I can't believe how long it took me to get to this one. Seriously, half of my favorite games are Super Nintendo JRPGs. Obviously I'd like one of the most beloved games in one of my favorite genres. If I'd played EarthBound when I was eight years old I probably would have spent as much time over at as I did at the Chrono Compendium, and I might have a better username.

What is EarthBound? Hell if I know. It's one of those totally inscrutable yet sublimely enjoyable pieces of entertainment like Revolutionary Girl Utena or No More Heroes that only the Japanese seem capable of producing. I certainly don't envy Pat the task of correlating the pieces of its fractured identity, although I relish the opportunity to have my affection for one of my new favorite games put into words.

So what is EarthBound? Well, it's a parody of old-school JRPGs, an absurdist comedy that produces more befuddled looks then genuine laughs, and yet is still somehow incredibly funny. It's also a heartwarming coming-of-age story with moments of genuine emotional breadth. Does that mean that EarthBound is to the JRPG as The Simpsons is to the cliché American sitcom? No, because it's also the darkest, most mature RPG on the SNES. Yes, it's a game where you capture zombies with giant flypaper and beat up hippies, but it's also horrifying on a very real, very visceral level.

What are its good qualities? Well, the soundtrack is one of the best and most varied in video game history. It jumps schizophrenically from bluesy rock to jazz to 8-bit chiptunes to death metal, sometimes in the same song. It may not have quite the same technical and artistic prowess on a song-by-song basis as, say, Final Fantasy VI, but the total experience is nothing short of magnificent. It's kind of like Cowboy Bebop in that sense, a show that has the best soundtrack in Japanese animation even if I would never listen to it in my car.

EarthBound's original Japanese name is derived from a John Lennon song about parental abandonment.

EarthBound's graphics are very basic and minimalist in contrast to games like Chrono Trigger. The main character's two-frame walking animation is simply his sprite being flipped back and forth. And yet, it has a unique charm to it all that underscores and magnifies the art's starkness in a very positive way. The graphics simply ... work.

Why do I love EarthBound so much? Well, because it's literary, in the sense that it is "a work of deep, invested storyline significance which, in a climax, evokes a powerful catharsis that calls to mind all events that preceded the climactic one."

EarthBound has a better ending than Super Metroid and Zelda Wind Waker combined.

Gameplay-wise, EarthBound is basically a Dragon Quest clone. And yet it's also a work of startling originality; there is absolutely nothing else in the entire world − with one exception − like EarthBound.

What is EarthBound? It's a prayer answered by people you love. It's a prayer absorbed by the darkness.

What is EarthBound? I don't have a clue.

Wait, I think I do. I know what it is.

EarthBound is a really fun video game.

3. Half-Life 2 (2004)

First person shooters and I have a limited relationship. I love BioShock, I love Deus Ex, I love Portal, and I really love the first Half-Life. Aside from that, I never cared for Call of Duty, I never finished Metroid Prime, and I never got into the whole online gaming scene on account of its disproportionate population of bigoted pricks. Basically, I've never been able to enjoy anything in the genre except for the absolute best it has to offer. That's the main reason I waited until 2011 to finally experience Valve's magnum opus, whereas most other people were avidly anticipating it years in advance.

It's no wonder that the game took five years to come out; after all, Valve had the unenviable task of making a sequel to Half-Life, a genre-changing event nearly as significant as (and much better than) Halo. Succeeding would mean either transcending their indomitable debut or forever living in its shadow.

And boy did they succeed. Half-Life 2 is something special. It's way more than just my favorite first person shooter − it's one of new favorite games, period. Once I finally gave it the chance it deserved, I couldn't put it down until I'd finished it. Did it have an awesome beginning that drew me into the world with suffocating atmosphere and brisk character-building? Did the game keep the roller-coaster pacing steady throughout the middle act? Did it have an amazing climax that built upon everything else in the game and perfectly ended the whole experience? Yes, yes, and hell yes.

The whole game is a journey from one brilliant set piece to another. City 17. Legitimately fun vehicle sections. That chopper that drops two dozen mines on your head. All those awesome little fights on the highway. Ravenholm. Nova Prospect. The Citadel − good God the Citadel.

When most developers make a sequel to a great game, they're usually content to copy their first formula without giving it a critical look to see what they can improve. I played Half-Life for the first time the summer before last, and I loved every second of it − except for Xen. Half-Life was about outwitting huge foes and using intelligence over brute force. It was about frying giants with rockets, air strikes, and nuclear capacitors. Xen was about pumping a hundred bullets into a giant testicle, hoping the blood-loss would kill it before the boredom killed you.

The Citadel is the perfect conclusion to Half-Life 2 because it takes the central mechanic the game spent so much time teaching you how to use (i.e. the gravity gun) and makes it the focal point of the whole experience. The ending is thrilling and fun and all sorts of other positive adjectives because it feels like the logical culmination of all of the game's previous events.

I'm not looking to rag on Half-Life. I just love it when developers actively seek to improve on already well-regarded formulas (see Resident Evil 4, Silent Hill 2, Super Mario 3D Land, and Zelda Wind Waker.) That's really what Half-Life 2 is about to me; going beyond the call of duty (ha.) In making Half-Life 2, Valve went further than anyone ever wanted them too. They turned what could have been a by-the-numbers sequel into a masterpiece. And I love them for it.

2. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (1993)

In the eight month span I owned my 3DS, I used it for precisely two purposes: 1) playing Super Mario 3D Land until I'd gotten every Star Coin in every level, and 2) replaying my new favorite Zelda game.

The original Legend of Zelda was an attempt to replicate a child's sense of adventure in an unknown world. Link to the Past was a gargantuan, ambitious masterpiece. Ocarina of Time was even larger, the result of Miyamoto throwing all of his creative talents and technology to the task of making the broadest, most epic game of all time. After mostly succeeding, he turned around, found everything he did wrong, and then fixed it in Wind Waker (while breaking a couple other things in the process.) Zelda has always been about gigantic adventures across sprawling landscapes, always upping the ante, always getting bigger.

In total contrast is Link's Awakening. It's a humble game. It was released on the Gameboy, a system even tinier than the NES. There's no Ganondorf, no Hyrule to save, no Master Sword, no Triforce. Just a hero, a princess who's greatest wish in the whole world is to become a seagull, an owl, and an egg.

It's humble. It's clean. It's confident. It's damn near perfect.

From a gameplay standpoint at least, Zelda was pretty much perfected in Link to the Past. None of the other games in the series balanced combat, puzzle-solving, and the all-important exploration as well as the legendary SNES title − none except for Link's Awakening. It plays identically to Link to the Past except for a few quirky items like the Roc's Feather and a much pared down item roster. The only other significant difference is a general "loosening" of level design. In Link to the Past, you'll never carry more than one key at a time until the Dark World, where the puzzles and architecture got more labyrinthine and intricate. This is also where the dungeons start getting really good. Link's Awakening starts off right at the Dark World level of "looseness" − you can easily have three keys at once during the very first dungeon. I'd say this is an improvement, and would go as far as to call the game's last dungeon the best in the series.

But where Link's Awakening truly surpasses its predecessor is in the narrative. Link to the Past sharpened the ingenious gameplay concepts of the first game to a razor's edge, but Link's Awakening was when Zelda started having wonderful stories to go along with their brilliant games. Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, and Wind Waker are all built off of the simple tale in Link's Awakening about growing up and facing the real world.

Part of it are the little virtuouso moments of direction that convey simple, profound emotions using all the retro-developer's emotive shortcuts. When Link first enters the world of Koholint, the background music is strange and lacking in a central melody; when he gets his sword a short while later, the uprising of the classic theme puts the player in the same empowered mindset of the Hero of Time reclaiming his lost weapon. My favorite is the scene with Link and Marin on the beach. 8-bit pixelized set pieces don't have any right to be so touching.

It's a very mature game in general, really. Like EarthBound, Shadow of the Colossus, Bastion, or Silent Hill 2, the whole climax is founded on a profound sense of uneasiness that underlines the whole experience and keeps building right up until the end. Link to the Past ended with Link killing Ganon and fixing absolutely everything that had gone wrong ever. Link's Awakening ends with the player asking "did I do the right thing?"

In the end, the answer is yes. Koholint isn't real. Neither is Marin. They're both figments of a forgotten god's imagination. Growing older means letting go of fantasies and facing the real world, even if it means being stranded in the unknown; it's a simple theme, but a beautiful, if sorrowful one. Wind Waker built off of this message and ended with something broader and slightly more optimistic, but Link's Awakening's stark melancholy sticks with me like few other games have ever managed.

I'm actually watering up a little writing this. Not what one would expect from a monochromatic Game Boy game that came out a month before I was born.

1. Mother 3 (2006)

And here we are at last. My true Game of the Year 2011, my Game of the Year 2006, my Game of the Year 2021, my Game of the Decade, my Game of a Lifetime. If you have any experience with the series, you probably knew this one would show up after I put EarthBound at spot number four. After all, who could finish EarthBound and not move immediately onto the sequel, knowing it exists?

I don't know what to say about Mother 3. I honestly don't believe I'm a good enough writer yet to adequately describe my feelings towards it.

Well, let's start with the gameplay. The original Mother was an unabashed Dragon Quest clone that would have totally succeeded if not for its unnecessary difficulty. Mother 2 went too far in the other direction and ended up a little on the easy side. Mother 3 finally hits the perfect medium with its difficulty curve, along with making the overly familiar Dragon Quest combat model genuinely interesting with its brilliant rhythm battle system and its slower-paced HP counter. The boss fights are nearly as tense and exciting as in Final Fantasy IV, and the random encounters never feel tedious. It's a JRPG that is legitimately enthralling to play, even devoid of the context and storytelling.

It also has some of the best sprite art I've ever seen. The minimal aesthetic is unchanged from EarthBound, but it's the fluidity of the animation that makes the look so exceptional. Sequences that only appear once in the game often have more than fifteen frames. When characters turn around during cutscenes, it actually shows them fully rotating around rather than just teleporting from facing one direction to another. It's as gorgeous a game as Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy VI, just in a very different way.

My favorite piece of animation in the game is Flint's breakdown near the end of Act 1 (SPOILERS). The subtle character reactions, Flint's emotive gestures, it all speaks of raw, unflinching fury. It's genuinely real and emotional, and the most artful use of sprites I've ever encountered.

Since the battle system is heavily based on rhythm, there's naturally a heavy emphasis on sound. Mother 3 takes up 32 megabytes in size. I'd wager most of that is music. There are a lot of songs in the game; battle themes number in the double digits. The moment I heard a chiptune cover of Eric Satie's Gymnopedie − probably my favorite piece of piano literature ever written − was when I realized I would be replaying this game until the day I died.

If Mother 2 was Itoi acting out a Kojima-esque desire to screw with the player's head on a fundamental, almost post-modern level, Mother 3 is where he buckled down and decided to add a genuinely heart-wrenching story to it all. The narrative is densely packed into the game's twenty-something short hours, but like Mother 1 and 2, it all truly comes together during the ending.

Compared to most developers, Itoi is pretty unfamiliar with video games as a medium. He's a writer first, a designer second. But if he did draw from any other game in particular outside of Dragon Quest in making Mother 2 and 3, I'd bet it would be Final Fantasy IV. The former has its version of the final encounter with Zeromus, only made exponentially more gut-destroying. It takes the player's desire to destroy Giygas and manifests it, in the process turning its nightmarish villain into something almost pitiable.

In Mother 3 I believe he set his sights on Golbez. His version of the character is different in that he more thoroughly parallels the main character. They're both silent. They wield similar weapons. They even dress identically. If Final Fantasy IV had had literary aspirations, Golbez would have been introduced at the start of the game, and he also would have been the final boss.

Mother 3 continually raises the stakes throughout its penultimate act. By the end of the game, the fates of all of Lucas's friends hang in the balance. He thinks he's doing the right thing, but he's not sure. Neither is the player. By the conclusion, the two central foils are fast approaching the final MacGuffin. They're neck and neck in the race to the end of the world.

Thus come the final moments of the game. The actual main villain has locked himself away from humanity forever − like Giygas, he is transformed from a monster into an object of pity. There's only one person left standing between Lucas and either the world's salvation or its destruction. At this point, I was sitting in my room, alone in the darkness, completely immersed in the experience. As I walked through that haunting final corridor, Lucas was me, and Claus was ....

I finished the game. I was crying. After a few minutes, I called up my brother. He's a couple years younger then me, and we've been good friends our whole lives. I love him very much. I told him so. Somewhat perplexed, he told me he loved me too and hung up.

From what I've heard, Shigesato Itoi is uninterested in making more Mother games. This is probably for the best. Sometimes it's good to just leave well enough alone. As it stands, the Mother franchise is untarnished and nearly perfect; it doesn't need another sequel. But I do hope Itoi makes more games. I really do.

Strange. Funny. Heartrending. That's Mother as a whole, really. Just remember: no crying until the end.

Thanks for reading. Happy New Year.

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