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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Last Ranker (ラストランカー)

It's been a while since I last played Last Ranker but I still clearly remember how much fun I had with it. This is one of those games that has the classic Imageepoch signature (at least their later games). It has a very unique battle system, fairly simple but fun and addictive mechanics, mediocre story, and impressive PSP graphics.

This was the top result for an in-game screenshot Google search. Go figure.
Back when I first escaped the mainstream hypetrain for the Nintendo DS and got into the PSP like a REAL gamer, Last Ranker was one of the first games I completed because it was just so much darn fun. The basic premise is you go to a city full of fighters all ranked by strength and you start out WAY at the bottom of the heap at rank 95,000.

No, you're not going to fight 95,000 people. If you beat someone of a higher rank, you basically swap rank. I had so much fun climbing up the ranks by fighting various people around the city. I also loved how some NPCs talk to you like you're some common plebian dirt and gradually change their attitude as you climb the ranks, eventually treating you like some sort of celebrity god. Being popular with the ladies is a nice change too.

The order in which you can challenge people to raise your rank is pretty linear and I used a guide a couple times to find the right person to fight. It's not like you can grind hardcore and jump several thousands ranks in one fell swoop. However, there are optional people you may miss that you don't have to fight to progress in the game.

I loved the character models, especially the top 7 ranked fighters. Everybody looked totally badass and I couldn't wait to climb up to their level. There's also a few nice FMV cut-scenes which I'm guessing Capcom had a hand in given the monster hunter-ish style.

If this trailer doesn't make you want to play... I guess we can never be friends.

The real highlight of the game is the battle system. As usual with Imageepoch, all the various mechanics unlock gradually but when it does, it's a really fun system of semi-realtime action with special moves and a stamina meter. It's very similar to Black Rock Shooter but less action and more RPG. You can even switch between different fighting styles such as using a gun or shield but I dunno, the first style was good enough to beat the game and the other styles seemed a bit weak to me. Might be something worth considering in another play-through one day.

The graphics are great, the mechanics are fun, and the music is good. The only thing that was a tad disappointing was the ending but hey, just don't expect a Xenogears or something. There's not much in terms of environments, you have the city, some woods to fight monsters and level up, and a smattering of other areas. Still, Last Ranker is definitely one of the funnest games I've played so far on the PSP and I would recommend it any day to anybody (with taste).

Unfortunately, for non-Jhipsters, you're gonna have to wait for an English patch that will come out... who knows? Or you know, you can join the ranks of the elite Jhipster army... just saying.

Music... pretty DARN good.

Score 3.5 Imageepoch, why did you leave me? WHYYYYYYYYYY!!! out of 5 (34 hours to beat)

0 - Awful
1 - Bad and not worth your time
2 - Has some flaws but still enjoyable
3 - An average enjoyable experience
4 - A great game
5 - Masterpiece of a caliber only found very rarely

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