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This is part of our ongoing series about games and trends of one of the most longest-lived eras in gaming’s history — the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 generation.

When I was a poor college student, I sold my Nintendo DS at GameStop so I could pay my bills. That was a huge mistake. Giving up the chance to play awesome DS games wasn’t worth the $50 I got in return.

After that, I vowed to never sell any of my consoles again.

Hopefully, you feel the same way and didn’t give up your PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 to grab brand-new PlayStation 4s and Xbox Ones. While our consoles are nearly old enough to sign up for AARP, we found five good reasons why you should still keep them. With the exception of a few games also heading to PC, you can only play these on PS3 or Xbox 360. (Anything that’s coming out on both generations, like Watch Dogs or Titanfall, were not included on this list.)

To revel in these dark fantasy settings

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 

Lords of Shadow 2 - The Library

Above: Dracula’s castle would look more cozy and inviting without these overgrown lava lamps.

Image Credit: Konami

Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Release date: Feb. 25

What is it?

Lords of Shadow 2 brings the tragic tale of the Belmont family and their centuries-old clash with Dracula into modern times. You play as the legendary vampire himself, who has to fight the only other being more evil than he is: Satan. Expect flashy weapon combos (with thematically appropriate names like Blood Whip and Void Sword) and a lot of blood-sucking in this open-world action game.

It has some serious fantasy cred

If Dracula’s son, Alucard, sounds familiar (you can hear him in this trailer), it’s because the voice belongs to actor Richard Madden, who’s best known for his three-year stint as Robb Stark in HBO’s hit TV show, Game of Thrones. Somehow, Madden ended up playing a key role in another story about brutal violence and complicated family politics.

Dark Souls II

Dark Souls II Surrounded

Above: Something tells me that this giant knight isn’t happy to see you.

Image Credit: Namco Bandai

Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Release date: March 11

What is it?

It’s easy to get turned off by Dark Souls’s learning curve and punishing enemies. You’ll die a lot before you start getting the hang of it, and you’ll die some more just trying to beat it (if you ever do). But those who survive the role-playing game’s harsh difficulty level seem to love it. Dark Souls II promises more unforgiving battles: At last year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, a spokesperson for publisher Namco Bandai (soon to be called Bandai Namco) told GamesBeat that Dark Souls II will “… ruthlessly beat the crap out of everyone.”

Still hungry for more?

Then go back to the beginning with Dark Souls’s 2009 predecessor, the PS3-exclusive Demon’s Souls. While not as popular as Dark Souls, Demon’s Souls has plenty of maddening boss fights and rare loot to keep you busy until March. 

For the onslaught of Japanese role-playing games

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

Above: We sure hope so, Lightning. We sure hope so.

Image Credit: Square-Enix

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Release date: Feb. 11

What is it?

The world is coming to an end, and only Lightning can stop it. The last game in the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy ditches the traditional party system in favor of playing just its pink-haired heroine. She can run around the wide-open levels and climb or jump over platforms. Combat relies on outfits called schemata, which you can customize with different weapons, abilities, and colors.

Unraveling the Fabula Nova Crystallis mythology

The FFXIII trilogy is part of a larger offshoot of the franchise called “Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy.” It covers six games in all — for consoles, handheld systems, and smartphones — and each of them draw from a shared mythology about gods and goddesses creating the universe. Developer Square Enix even has a book (for internal use only) written by long-time Final Fantasy writer Kazushige Nojima that goes into further detail about these stories.

Tales of Xillia 2

Tales of Xillia 2

Above: Ludger and Elle in Tales of Xillia 2.

Image Credit: Bandai Namco

Platform: PlayStation 3
Release date: TBA 2014

What is it?

In the sequel to last year’s Tales of Xillia, you take control of Ludger, a chef who turns into a blade-wielding warrior after trying to save a little girl during a terrorist attack. Tales of Xillia 2 emphasizes the importance of choice, and the decisions you make can affect the story’s outcome. Like other games in the long-running JRPG series, Tales of Xillia 2 has a real-time combat system, and Ludger can switch between his other weapons (including pistols and hammers) on-the-fly.

Would you like some more Tales with that?

Developer Namco Bandai recently announced that the next entry, Tales of Zestiria, will head exclusively to the PS3. Also coming out this year for Sony’s older console is Tales of Symphonia Chronicles (Feb. 25), which has two HD remakes of Tales games that were only available on the Nintendo GameCube in the U.S.: Tales of Symphonia and Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World.

Persona 5

Persona 5 teaser

Above: A teaser image from the first Persona 5 trailer.

Image Credit: Atlus

Platform: PlayStation 3
Release date: Winter 2014 in Japan, U.S. TBA

What is it?

We don’t know much about Persona 5 other than those five chairs and the cryptic text accompanying them. But that’s OK, because that Persona 5 exists is enough for fans to get excited about it. Past games followed a group of high school students and their ability to summon Personas — supernatural manifestations of themselves — to fight against their otherworldly foes. Many reviewers (including our own) loved the last game, Persona 4 Golden.

How come it isn’t on PS4?

Although developer Atlus hasn’t provided a specific reason, it does have a long history of releasing its Persona games toward the end of a console generation. Persona 2: Eternal Punishment and Persona 2: Innocent Sin came out for the original PlayStation after the U.S. launch of the PS2, and the PS2 games Persona 3 and Persona 4 arrived well after the PS3’s debut.

For these promising adaptations

South Park: The Stick of Truth

South Park: The Stick of Truth

Above: In The Stick of Truth, the children imagine themselves as wizards, rogues, and other classes.

Image Credit: Ubisoft

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Release date: March 4

What is it?

The 16-year old TV show has a spotty history when it comes to video games based on its foul-mouthed cast of fourth graders. That’s why The Stick of Truth looks so exciting. It has a proven developer (Obsidian Entertainment), riffs on well-known role-playing game tropes, and, at least from the trailers we’ve seen, maintains the show’s abrasive humor.

Can’t wait?

Then watch “Black Friday,” “A Song of Ass and Fire,” and “Titties and Dragons” for a preview of The Stick of Truth. Together, these three episodes tell a hilarious story that combines the madness of Black Friday, the PS4 and Xbox One launches, and elements from Game of Thrones. In addition to the shared fantasy setting, they also feature many of the same outfits that the characters wear in the game.

The Walking Dead: Season Two and The Wolf Among Us

Clementine from The Walking Dead is now the star in Season Two.

Above: Clementine from The Walking Dead is now the star in Season Two.

Image Credit: Telltale Games

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Release dates: Future episodes TBA

What are they?

Developer Telltale Games keeps doing what it does best: episodic games. The Walking Dead: Season Two, based on the wildly popular zombie comic books by Robert Kirkman, continues the story of Clementine, the young girl players took care of in Season One. And The Wolf Among Us serves as a prequel to Bill Willingham’s Fables, a comic book series about the adventures of fairy tale characters living in New York City. Right now, each game only has one episode; both will eventually have five.

Stick with your save files

Telltale hasn’t said yet if The Walking Dead or The Wolf Among Us will make the jump to PS4 and Xbox One. So in the meantime, it’s best to stick with the old consoles, especially if you already started playing these games. They use save data from previous episodes and seasons to determine what outcomes or scenes you see in future updates. For instance, in the first season of The Walking Dead, the decisions you made affected both small details (like who you became friends with) and big ones (like deciding which characters lived or died).

If you’re looking for something new …


Harold turbo boost

Above: You have to lower the bridge for Harold before he crosses it.

Image Credit: Moonspider Studio

Platforms: Xbox 360, PC
Release date: First quarter of 2014

What is it?

Even though Harold missed its Spring 2013 release window by a long shot, that doesn’t change the fact how much I loved it back when I saw it in 2012. In this 2D running game, you play as a guardian angel who must help Harold via special powers — like thunderbolts and a pair of magical scissors — to win races against other angels and their runners. Winning is not just a matter of who can run the fastest. The version I saw had tons of moving platforms, switches, and deadly animals to watch for as well as places where you can slow down the competition by using those obstacles against them.

The developer has a top-notch animation team 

The reason Harold looks and moves so well is because of the animators behind it. Some of them once worked for big movie studios like Disney, Studio Ghibli, and Dreamworks.

Murdered: Soul Suspect

Murdered Soul Suspect

Above: Ronan O’ Connor examines his own crime scene.

Image Credit: Square-Enix

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Release date: TBA 2014

What is it?

“Murdered” isn’t in the name just because it sounds cool: The main character, detective Ronan O’ Connor, actually dies in the opening scene. But before he can move on in the afterlife, he has to figure out who killed him and why. As a ghost, O’Connor can walk through walls and doors, possess people, fight demons, and talk to other ghosts who might help him.

O’Connor is a blend of John McClane and Han Solo

The premise of Murdered came from publisher Square Enix’s creative director Yosuke Shiokawa, who wondered what would happen if John McClane, the action hero that actor Bruce Willis played in Die Hard, died before he could save his wife. He thought that, even as a ghost, McClane would still find a way to stop the bad guys and save the day. Shiokawa wanted O’Connor to have the sort of “bad boy” personality found in characters like McClane or Han Solo from Star Wars.

To save some money

Games with Gold and PlayStation Plus

PlayStation Plus in Jan. 2014

Above: For now, the PS3’s Instant Game Collection is bigger than the PS4’s.

Image Credit: Sony

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Release dates: Free games come out every month

What are they?

You have to pay for these premium services on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Xbox 360 — $50 a year for PS Plus, $60 a year for Xbox Live Gold — if you want to play multiplayer games. It’s not required for multiplayer on PS3, but it does give you neat features like cloud saves. More important, both Plus and Gold offer free games every month.

What’s the difference?

For PlayStation users, that means a digital library flush with old and recent hits for PS3 (and the PlayStation Vita handheld) that is larger than its collection on PS4. The catch is that you can only download and play these while you’re a member. If you decide to cancel PS Plus, you’ll lose access to the free games.

For Xbox 360 players, the Games with Gold program offers two free games each month. So far, they’ve been older than the games you get with PS Plus: Past freebies were Assassin’s Creed II and the first Gears of War. But unlike PS Plus, you can keep these games forever, even if you stop paying for Xbox Live Gold.


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