Chey’s Top 25 – #5 – Psychonauts

Genre:  Adventure/Platform
Platform:  XBox Original, PC

Psychonauts is the highest console game to make my list.  Everything after this is a PC game.  This game is one of my favorites ever.  Top 5, actually.  It is also the most unique game on this list.  I happened to have found this one day at a GameStop.  I hadn’t heard of it previously, but it looked interesting.  I have since bought the game two more times as I gave away my first two copies to other people because I want everyone to play and enjoy it as much as I have.  I am a Psychonauts evangelist.

You play the game as a character named Rasputin, or Raz.  Raz is just a kid.  A kid with special powers.  His family doesn’t approve of his powers and is in a circus.  Raz runs away to a summer camp for kids with special mental powers hosted by the Psychonauts – a do-gooding organization whose members all have psychic abilities.  At this camp, he makes new friends and quickly shows that he is special indeed.  Then something bad happens and it’s up to you and Raz to return the camp to normal.  Through the game, you learn new powers, which help you defeat many enemies.

The game play is broken into two main areas – the campgrounds itself and the psychic realm.  In the campgrounds, you go from area to area, looking for hidden objects, buying upgrades and progressing the story along.  In the psychic realm, you are helping individuals sort out their mental issues.  This is really where the game shines.  Every psychic level is completely unique.  There is a level where you are basically Godzilla and hated, one where you are essentially in a pinball table, another in a person who thinks he’s Napoleon and so many more!

There are tons of things to collect in this game, which I always enjoy.  The graphics are also unique.  Some people like them, some don’t.  Because they are a bit unusual, I feel the game still stands up today.  What makes this game for me, however, is the writing.  This game is HILARIOUS!  There were a couple of levels where I laughed for a solid 5 minutes.  When you play it, I recommend that you really take your time and listen to the things the other characters have to say.  If you stick around, you’ll hear some really funny stuff.  Read the billboards, too!  The Milkman level is one of my favorites and I have played it over and over because it’s so funny.

This was the first game I had played by developer Double Fine, headed by Tim Schaefer.  I have Psychonauts shirts, pins, a signed poster by Schaefer and Psychonauts figurines.  This game has reached cult status, and I’m definitely there.  I am a big fan of a lot of their other games as well.  They all have that same sense of humor and excellent writing.


My little Psychonauts

I only have one criticism about the game.  The game plays really well, not overly difficult, until the ending.  As many times as I have played this game, I have never finished it.  The ending requires ridiculous precision and is really frustrating.  It’s so disproportionate to the rest of the game.  It’s never made sense to me.

Otherwise, however, if you have not played this, GET IT NOW AND PLAY IT!!!  It’s available for PC on Steam and it’s available in the Microsoft Store for the XBox 360.  I’m not sure if it’s been ported to the XBone yet.

By the way, Psychonauts 2 is in the works.  I will likely disappear for a week or so after it comes out.  I’ll come out a zombie, but a happy zombie.  I’m a bit nervous about it, though, because this is a tough game to follow.

Hidden Gems – Harry Potter + Order of the Phoenix for XBox 360

Genre:  Action-Adventure
Platform:  XBox 360

I am a fan of the Harry Potter books and movies.  I wasn’t too sure about playing the games, though, because video games based on movies are notoriously bad.  I picked this one up, anyway.  It was the first Harry Potter game that I had tried.  I was pleasantly surprised and this makes it a hidden gem.

If you are a fan of the Harry Potter series, you will really enjoy this game.  It follows the story of the movie very well, but it lets you set the pace of the story.  You could finish this game in about 8 hours if you wanted.  However, as a bit of a completionist, I did every side quest, played every mini-game and collected every achievement (except for the one that is bugged).  There are a lot of really fun mini-games and things to collect in this game.  My favorite was marbles.  It could be difficult at times, but was a lot of fun.  It also let you have full run of Hogwarts, which felt like a very large and comprehensive environment.  The colors in the game are a bit drab, but I believe it was intentional.  The graphics are also a bit dated at this point, but it’s still quite playable.

Along your way through the story, you have your fellow Hogwarts crew to help you out.  You will do tasks for them and they will return the favor.  In the end, you will fight “He Who Shall Not Be Named” and hopefully come out victorious.

If you’ve not played this, I would recommend you try it out!  Beware, however, that other platform versions of this game are not the same.  For example, the DS version of the game seems to only have the story portion of this game, which makes it a lot less fun.

Hidden Gems – 999 for the Nintendo DS

Platform:  Nintendo DS
Genre: Adventure/Visual Novel

999: Nine Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors was a surprisingly good game that I picked up at a Gamestop years ago while on the road for work.  I had never heard of it, but the covers looked interesting enough.  I don’t think I slept much the first night I started playing it because it sucked me in.

In this game, you play as a young Japanese man who suddenly awakens to find himself in a room on a ship.  He has no idea how he got there and it’s your job to help him figure out what is going on.  Once you find your way out of your room, you find that there are 8 other people in the same situation.  Your goal is to find a way off the ship.

This game is similar in concept to that of the movie Saw, but it’s not gory or even scary. However, I still wouldn’t let the little ones play it (12 or under maybe?). There are tense moments and it also feels like a whodunnit at times.  This game has EXCELLENT writing and some may call it a visual novel.  This was my intro to such games and I was blown away.

The decisions you make throughout the game greatly affect the ending.  In fact, there are 9 different endings, so replay-ability is very high.  I have discovered 3 of the endings thus far.  Nintendo DS games are starting to get pricey, but if you can find this one on the cheap, check it out!