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What Are the Best New Game Plusses?

Finishing off the final boss doesn't always mean the party's over. Here are some games that put a worthwhile spin on things the second time around.

Article by Bob Mackey, .

Sometimes, when a game ends, we're not quite ready to see it go.

That's why the concept of "new game plus" has made for one of the best innovations in game design since the continue: After watching those credits roll, this mode lets us jump back into the world we previously conquered for some brand-new surprises. And while most modern games let you carry over your character for another round, some go a little further in trying to challenge what you think you know. You'll find the best examples of new game plus below, but if you can think of any we've neglected, please tell us in the comments section!

[Chrono Trigger - Super Nintendo - 1995]

An obvious inclusion, but still, an important one. It's possible other games attempted something similar before this SNES RPG, but Chrono Trigger popularized the idea of new game plus by giving this mechanic the name it's known best by. Oh yeah, and by making it the only way to see all of those glorious endings. While you can fight Lavos at many points during Crono and the gang's journey, odds are, they're not going to be strong enough to survive its wrath until the very end of the game. A return trip through Chrono Trigger carries over all of your character levels, abilities, and equipment, making it possible to finish off the hideous space urchin antagonist much earlier—in fact, one of the strangest (and best) endings requires the player to take on Lavos at the very beginning of the game without that vital third party member.

[Resident Evil 2 - Sony PlayStation - 1998]

Resident Evil's been around for nearly 20 years, but Capcom's never tried anything quite as ambitious as what's found in the second installment. Upon starting Resident Evil 2, you're asked to choose between Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield, though a complete playthrough of the game requires you to take control of this second character once the final curtain closes on the first. Thanks to the oddly named "Zapping System," starting a new game with the alternate protagonist gives this escape from Raccoon City a few new twists, with choices made in the first game directly affecting how the second playthrough unfolds. This new game plus mode also offers a brand new challenge in the form of Mr. X, a hulking, trenchcoat-clad member of the undead who stalks you throughout. Capcom liked this idea so much, they even made it the centerpiece of the following game, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.

[The Legend of Zelda - NES - 1987]

Okay—technically, The Legend of Zelda doesn't offer a new game plus mode. Still, its equivalent offers so much content, it would be a shame to keep Link's first game off this list. So, you probably know that, in Japan, Nintendo created a sequel to Super Mario Bros. that essentially remixed elements of the first game into a collection of incredibly hard levels. They did the same thing with Zelda, but instead of releasing this remix as a separate product, Nintendo included it on the cartridge itself in the form of a "Second Quest." Entering your name as "Zelda" before beginning the game will drop you directly into this new adventure, which changes item and shop locations, enemy placements, and even dungeon layouts. Even though the demands of this Second Quest might be too much for most players, it's still incredible to think that, after finishing The Legend of Zelda's development, Miyamoto and his team added an entirely new spin on their original creation just because they wanted to. (Ah, the days before DLC.)

[999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors - Nintendo DS - 2010]

The visual novel/adventure game 999 actually uses the concept of new game plus to inform its fundamental design. As you make choices through this twist-laden narrative, many pathways inevitably lead to fatal dead ends—but when you jump back into the game, you can use this knowledge to avoid failure your second (or third, or fourth) time through. And, as you see more of 999's endings, the protagonist will begin to remember these past time loops, leading to one of the most satisfying marriages imaginable between gameplay and narrative—but to say anything more would involve dropping some massive spoilers, and no one wants that. 999's sequel, Virtue's Last Reward, would make its predecessor's new game plus feature a lot more intuitive by allowing players to start from any point of the story they've already visited, making it so death no longer required a restart at square one. (And thankfully, the creator has hinted that the long-awaited third game may be coming soon.)

[Um Jammer Lammy - Sony PlayStation - 1999]

Um Jammer Lammy was a massive flop, though it could have fared much better had Sony let consumers know an entire Parappa the Rapper game also existed on that black PlayStation disc. That's right: It wasn't listed on the back of the box, or mentioned at all in preview coverage, but reaching the end of Um Jammer Lammy unlocks Parappa as a playable character, who can rap his way through hip-hop remixes of all but one of Lammy's songs. It's an incredible amount of content that's essentially hidden away, and the addition of these five levels actually makes Lammy twice as big as the relatively brief Parappa the Rapper—again, something Sony should have advertised openly. Sadly, few felt the urge to try this strange-sounding game featuring a rock-and-roll lamb on the cover, though the promise of more Parappa definitely would have definitely brought more people on board.

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Comments 28

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  • Avatar for Suzusiiro #1 Suzusiiro 3 years ago
    Ar Tonelico Qoga had a good one in that its New Game Plus gave you the option of starting over at the beginning or right before either of the two major story branch points.
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  • Avatar for touchofkiel #2 touchofkiel 3 years ago
    I loved the way 999 used its new games. If only...

    the writing...

    wasn't so...

    ..............

    atrocious.
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  • Avatar for jeremy.parish #3 jeremy.parish 3 years ago
    Aw, I would have included the original Metroid (tough to get the best ending without NG+)... Parasite Eve had a pretty interesting NG+, too, giving you a crazy 100-floor super-dungeon to tackle. Oh, and the IGAvanias!
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  • Avatar for bobservo #4 bobservo 3 years ago
  • Avatar for Natabuu #5 Natabuu 3 years ago
    I haven't played it myself, but I've heard Nier has a few rounds of new game + that recontextualize the story. It even requires you to delete your save file to see the final ending.
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  • Avatar for NinjaMic #6 NinjaMic 3 years ago
    Chrono Trigger, Resident Evil 2, NES Zelda > good, good.

    Vagrant Story killed it with New Game+ imo... the grind for perfect gear crafting, difficulty boosts, secret areas, and bonus stat rolling after clearing an area. That's a 90's gem you can play for a very long time. Closest thing Square has to a Souls game when I think about it.

    The whole Disgaea and Diablo series of games are basically "New Game+: The Game" - jogging my memory and remembering Shining Force EXA and Dragon's Crown too.Edited 3 times. Last edited April 2015 by NinjaMic
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  • Avatar for bobservo #7 bobservo 3 years ago
    @Natabuu I was going to mention that in the article, but it seemed possible to avoid spoilers when describing it.
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  • Avatar for Neifirst #8 Neifirst 3 years ago
    Perhaps it didn't do anything revolutionary with the concept, but I found Resident Evil 4's new game plus to be the most satisfying. Some of those enemies and bosses were tough as nails the first time through, but coming back with that XXXL suitcase full of weapons, ammo, and herb mixtures was so much fun. You just can't beat the Chicago Typewriter!
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  • Avatar for link6616 #9 link6616 3 years ago
    @Natabuu It also doesn't allow you to start a new file if you use the same name for your character. Which is a nice extra touch.
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  • Avatar for link6616 #10 link6616 3 years ago
    @touchofkiel The writing is fine... it's just... A little odd when random pseudo science exposition dumps come. Like this is a pretty stressful situation, and this character just spent minutes explaining something about a picture.
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  • Avatar for matthewjohnson31 #11 matthewjohnson31 3 years ago
    Let's see... Devil Survivor 2 had a New Game Plus option where your original levels, skills, demons etc. had to be bought with points you earned while playing the game. It's pretty much impossible to keep everything, and I think it provides a nice middle ground between just starting the game over and a full CT style new game plus.

    Then there's Dragon Quarter, another one that isn't quite New Game Plus but one that I think takes the concept and does something more interesting with it. It's been ten years, so bear with me, but basically if you find yourself in a spot where the game becomes unwinnable (and you're supposed to, it's baked into the design), you can start over from the beginning and use a special pool of xp to level your characters up right off the bat and smooth your way back to the point where you got stuck. The cool thing is that in the process of quitting and reloading, you unlock a lot of stuff that would normally only become available in New Game Plus -- doors unlock, additional story scenes play, stuff like that. I gather that Dragon Quarter was pretty widely reviled upon its release, but it'd be really nice to see someone else develop these concepts further.
    @Suzusiiro One of the things I've wanted from NG+ for a long time is the ability to access major bits of the story like chapters on a DVD, so I don't have to keep extra save files in eg Chrono Trigger when Lavos crashes down to earth. This isn't quite that, but it is a step in the right direction!
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #12 SatelliteOfLove 3 years ago
    To add to VS and BoF:DQ mentioned before, Tales of Graces f had an incredibly beefy NG+ filled with neat new tricks like Narikiri dolls, new bosses, and insta-cast INDIGNATION.

    Lunar: Eternal Blue was great too; a great follow up to the adventure.
    @touchofkiel

    Guess what VLR fixed!

    Yes it's true, Uchikoshi's getting better at these as he goes along!
    @link6616

    Exactly. VNs have some wierd quirks that seem to be adhered to like that which Uchikoshi seems to be unlearning.
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  • Avatar for nilcam #13 nilcam 3 years ago
    Chrono Trigger and Valkyria Chronicles are my favorites.
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  • Avatar for SigurdVolsung #14 SigurdVolsung 3 years ago
    I'd go with Demon Souls/Bloodborne, Mass Effect 1-3, Chrono Trigger, Persona 4 Golden, Final Fantasy X-2, and The Legend of Zelda as my favorite New Game+ examples. Although I always appreciate when they include that in games, I tend to go through games several times, especially the long ones.
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  • Avatar for Mikki-Saturn #15 Mikki-Saturn 3 years ago
    I'm trying to remember if I've ever even actually played through a New Game + mode before. I guess usually by the time I finish a game (if I manage to take the time to finish it at all) I'm generally done with it and ready to move on. Then if I ever come back to it, it's generally years later and I just start a regular game again.Edited April 2015 by Mikki-Saturn
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  • Avatar for Macuelos #16 Macuelos 3 years ago
    I was maybe halfway into it before I lost my save, but Lufia on the NDS has a New Game+ mode that changes a couple of things. The Ancient Cave is accessible right away, you keep the blue gems from your first playthrough...

    ...And even if you don't like the way the game glosses over many things from the SNES version of the game and how many things are changed, even the most cynical player has to feel like they done good after bearing it for a second time, what with the changed ending.
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  • Avatar for siamesegiant #17 siamesegiant 3 years ago
    @Natabuu Yes, Nier's new game plus isn't really just starting over, it's a continuation of the story. It's incredibly clever. It's very hard to get into without spoiling, so it's hard to talk about too much, and I can understand not including it in the article. It is, along with 999 perhaps, the most original and inventive use of NG+ I can think of. More people should play those 2 games.
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  • Avatar for siamesegiant #18 siamesegiant 3 years ago
    Also,@bobservo, no Dark Souls in this article?! You must be going cold turkey or something.
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  • Avatar for ReyVGM #19 ReyVGM 3 years ago
    It's important to note the differences between New Game +, Second Quest, and Second Loop. I know they can be interchangeable, but they do have their own identity.

    Second (and Third, Fourth, etc.) Loop: Popularized by arcade shoot'em ups. Basically, after beating the game, you restart from the 1st stage but the difficulty has increased. You powerups may or may not have carried over. Mostly used in action, shooter, and arcade games. Rarely used anymore due to the decline of those types of games.

    Second Quest: Popularized by Zelda 1. A SQ should be specifically used for games that, after beating the last boss, give you a whole new adventure, either by redesigning the map layouts or changing the item placements. But the difference is you start with default items and experience. Nothing carries over. Mostly used in adventure, point and click, and graphic novel games. Rarely used because it takes a lot of work to design different adventures other than the main one.

    New Game +: Popularized by Chrono Trigger. You start the same quest with the same difficulty as before, but your items/magic/experience carries over to this new game. Due to the ability to start overpowered, the NG+ is usually easier, which is a key difference. Zelda 2 was actually the first one to do this. Mostly used in RPGs. Still somewhat popular.Edited April 2015 by ReyVGM
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  • Avatar for Natabuu #20 Natabuu 3 years ago
    @ReyVGM Another variation is when you don't need to beat the game to start to get the benefits of an NG+. Most of Platinum's action titles let you freely select any unlocked level and difficulty with your built-up character(s).
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  • Avatar for kidgorilla #21 kidgorilla 3 years ago
    I don't really love Nier, but I like its NG+. Everybody else that comments on it will probably tell you more.

    Dragon Quarter, though, is a NG+ for the ages
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  • Avatar for Mad-Mage #22 Mad-Mage 3 years ago
    Interesting that most the games listed here have a NG+ mode that consists of a lot of new content. I would define Um Jammer Lammy, 999, Zelda and RE2 as "having lots of extra content after you beat them" rather than calling them games with a NG+ mode. Of course what that maybe says is that real NG+ isn't that fun. Like Chrono Trigger. I could never make it through NG+ in that game because it's sooooo boring. None of the battles matter, none of the treasure chests matter. Even the plot is 95% the same.
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  • Avatar for bobservo #23 bobservo 3 years ago
    @Mad-Mage That was kind of my angle with the whole thing.
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  • Avatar for InsertTokenz #24 InsertTokenz 3 years ago
    My favorite NG+ modes in games have to be Chrono Trigger (the formal originator of the concept), Resident Evil 4 (with new weapons to try out that you couldn't get in the first playthrough), and most of Platinum Games titles (with new content added, along with added difficulty modes that change up enemy placement as opposed to simply making existing enemies harder to defeat, thus making the added playthrough more engaging).
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  • Avatar for JonScott #25 JonScott 3 years ago
    Are there any Western RPGs that have a New Game+ feature?

    I know most of the Infinity Engine games have the ability to import characters so you could theorhetically play through Baldur's Gate again as your fully leveled character but that's not really the same as New Game+.
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  • Avatar for hal9k #26 hal9k 3 years ago
    Two of my favorites were for the GBA: the Julius Belmont mode in Aria of Sorrow (one of the above-mentioned IGAvanias), and the Hector mode in Fire Emblem (7). Maybe those were more of a 2nd Quest.
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  • Avatar for MainCharacter #27 MainCharacter 3 years ago
    Because of its branching story paths and multiple endings, Chrono Cross is a game that benefits from being played a couple times through. Like its predecessor, carrying your abilities/stats speeds up a lot of the game's combat. But it also featured the genius Time Shifter item that allows the player to double-speed Fast Forward through pretty much everything in the game, reducing a lot of the tedium of a replay.
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  • Avatar for gameroflove #28 gameroflove 2 years ago
    I was maybe halfway into it before I lost my save, but Lufia on the NDS has a New Game+ mode that changes a couple of things. The Ancient Cave is accessible right away, you keep the blue gems lançamentos ps3 2016 from your first playthrough. And even if you don't like the way the game glosses over many things from the SNES version of the game and how many things are changed, even the most cynical player has to jogos ps3 2016 feel like they done good after bearing it for a second time, what with the changed ending. The bonus is being able to play as a single nation throughout all of history (and the games associated with those eras). Start as a small group of squabbling tribesmen in Crusader Kings and lançamentos jogos ps3 2016 create a nation. Grow into an empire during Europa Universalis. Navigate political turmoil and technological progress in Victoria. Then ultimately conquer the world in Hearts of Iron.
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