Time for some Sunday gaming goodness, getting this list down to 21. As usual, check out the Top 300 Games tag to look at older posts. Let’s go!
30: Soul Calibur 2 (GameCube) – We used to play endless matches in SC2 and this is my favorite beat ‘em up of all time. What we did, usually we were four or five people playing together, was that we played a team game where we chose eight characters on each “side” and then we took turns playing until all eight on one side were defeated. I also plowed through the single player part of the game, which was more of a series of different challenges that you had to go through. Looking at the stats, I played about 1200 games with the character Yunsung. Link was a bit overpowered because he was the only one with long distance weapons, but if you just sidestepped, that was all taken care of. The extremely buxom girls in the game were… well, they had extremely large and bouncy boobs, so much so that it just became comical more than anything else. They’ve only gotten bigger in every sequel since then.
29: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (PC) – Whenever I think about this game, I think about atmosphere and a beautiful world to play in. The story is okay and the side quests are really good at times, but what kept me playing was the world I was playing in. It got me hooked from minute one with the beautiful music and the beautiful setting. Beautiful is really getting a lot of mileage here, but the game is truly beautiful in almost every single way. The only not-so-great part of it is the dialogue. The people look weird and there is a huge shortage of voice actors, so most of the people sound the same. It’s also a bit silly that in order to level up your athletics skill, you go around jumping constantly whenever you walk from one town to another. But all in all this is one of the best RPGs out there and I had so much fun with it.
28: Halo 2 (Xbox) – The game that got FPS multiplayer going on consoles. I played this two years ago or something on my Xbox 360, so I missed out on its release, but I really like the story part of the game and the time I’ve spent with it in local multiplayer has been a lot of fun too. The narrative in the single player story is interesting in how you switch between playing Master Chief and the Arbiter, giving you a better understanding of the enemy from the first game. I co-oped my way through it a couple of times and I think it’s interesting that they included a song by Breaking Benjamin at the end of the game. That felt like a gamble that, if it had paid off, we would see a lot of popular music in more games today, as opposed to just being the soundtrack in sports titles.
27: NHL 94 (SNES) – There was one pretty essential feature missing in this game that was added in later versions and that’s the season function. I promptly started playing my own season where I drew up a schedule on paper and counted goals and assists for all of my players. Most of the times I’ve played a season in the NHL games, I’ve played with the Detroit Red Wings since that’s my favorite team. Same thing here. Steve Yzerman ended up with something like 268 goals and 480 points in 84 games. As a reference for you normal people who aren’t complete hockey nuts like me, the most a player has ever scored in the real NHL is 215 points by the best player ever, Wayne Gretzky. In later years, me and my best friend have taken to playing Detroit vs Pittsburgh (his favorite team) in an endless stream of games. We’re so even and it’s a blast in every game. The games usually end up something like 9-8 to one of us.
26: Super Mario All Stars (SNES) – You can call this my cop out pick of the list because it’s a collection and I’ve been really really torn on where it should end up. We’ve pretty much all of us spent considerable amount of time with the Mario games, especially 1 and 3, but I don’t know… to me there’s something missing. I always preferred Mega Man to Super Mario back in the day if I could have my pick. Regardless, this is a collection of games that is almost second to none. SMB1 is THE video game, in my eyes the one that started it all (or restarted it all, if you started with Pong and those oldies). SMB2 is the black sheep of the family, but it’s still fun. SMB3 is one of the most impressive evolutions of a game series ever and then you have SMB The Lost Levels, which I’ve never actually finished. I will probably go back to it just to finish it one day, probably as both Mario and Luigi, but until then, it’ll have to remain that “too damn hard!” game I never managed to beat.
25: Resident Evil Remake (GameCube) – As good as RE4 and 5 are, they don’t hold a candle to the original game. It was the first game I got for the GameCube and today it’s the only one I haven’t wanted to sell. It is beautiful and sooooo damn creepy with atmosphere so thick you can slice through it with a knife. It’s a testament to some games really benefitting from remakes and it makes you think about how other games could be remade.
24: NHL 10 (Xbox 360) – At the time of writing this, it is four days until NHL 11 is released here in Sweden. I’m getting it on release and I’m trading in this sucker. Since I got it, I’ve played countless games, most of them online. It is THE hockey game to play and I hope that the next one takes it a step further. My friends and I have had endless fun playing together in the couch against random people on Xbox Live. The Be a Pro feature was fun at first but it didn’t hold up for long, especially when you started playing online. The center Thomas Johansson with the jersey number 36 was drafted by the Washington Capitals and quickly rose through the ranks, won the rookie of the year trophy and all that jazz. Then I stopped playing and forgot about that feature as soon as online matches caught my eye and I never looked back. At the end of summer my nephew was trashtalking about how he could beat me and I told him that he had no chance whatsoever. Finally we sat down and 12 straight wins (with a combined score of 80-23 or something like that) for me later, he wasn’t so cocky anymore. That was fun.
23: Half-Life 2 (PC) – I feel that this game is insanely overrated, much like Portal. Yeah, both are part of The Orange Box, but I felt there was such a difference between them, so I kept them as separate picks. I include in this pick, however, the “Episodes”. Writing this now, we are still waiting for Episode 3, so the story is not entirely finished, but it’s been years since Episode 2 was released, so fuck it. This game kept the narrative style from the first game and used more engaging supporting characters to tell a deeper story in HL2, for better or worse. Sure, Alyx Vance is a good female game character, but all too often I felt that she was leading me by the hand every step of the way. The pacing is one of the best things about this game and that’s an underrated thing. But the real star of the show is a weapon, just like in Portal. The Gravity Gun made this game what it is. Along with a solid set of vehicles and intriguing set pieces, the story has gotten deeper and deeper for every part, ending with a heartwrenching loss at the end of Episode 2. How it all ends in Episode 3 will be very interesting.
22: The Legend of Zelda (NES) – Link’s first adventure was awesome and it was also responsible for me looking up a word in the dictionary for the first time in my then short life. There’s a cave where an old man says something about a secret and a peninsula. I was seven or eight years old English wasn’t my first language, so peninsula was pure gibberish for me. Getting it translated didn’t help in making sense of the damn clue, but I finished the game anyway. One of the all-time classics. Not a lot more to say here, actually. Just give it a go if you haven’t already.
21: Mario Kart Double Dash (GameCube) – Another couch multiplayer favorite for the GameCube. We never tried connecting several GameCubes, although with hindsight I think we should’ve given it a shot. Then again, hindsight is always 20/20 and we still had loads of fun with this game. I never fell in love with the SNES or N64 versions and the Wii and DS versions are lackluster in comparison IMO. This is it when it comes to kart action. All the tracks are a lot of fun and the side games are also a really entertaining and that’s what this is supposed to be about. Pure goddamn fun.
Now I’m down to the top 20. From now on it’s nothing but slam dunks all the way to the top.
It’s been a few days since I posted, so it’s time to get on with it again. I’ve been with my family at Sweden’s biggest amusement park and spent time with Assassin’s Creed 2 as well as doing some barbequing with a bunch of friends. Long weekend, a lot of nice experiences. Time to get back to the list. As usual, check out this tag to check out the rest of the posts, going all the way back to my initial thoughts and reasoning behind the list.
150: MechCommander 2 (PC) – I am a huge fan of the BattleTech universe and MechCommander 2 is, sadly, a game that I wish I could’ve spent more time with, but things just didn’t pan out back when it was released. Still, I played it enough to have fun with it, but I didn’t like the narrative as much as in the first one. The first one was about kicking Clan ass and the second one was about the Inner Sphere squabbles that happened after that. That’s probably gobbledegook to most people, but the first one was simply better. I will say, though, that the ability to play for three different factions was quite interesting.
149: LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Xbox 360) – Wonderful co-op game. The LEGO games are all working with the same concept. Take a movie/toy/comic/book brand and make a game out of it where you run around as different characters with a few standard abilities, collecting tons of different things and building stuff while everything is in LEGO. I’ve only spent considerable time with LEGO Star Wars, going through the story along with my best friend. It’s a fun ride and most of the story bits are told with a lot of humor, even the serious stuff. The controls, however, can be very frustrating, especially the camera and how well you can see depth of field. This means that a lot of the time, you jump to a platform only to discover that you were way off because of the crappy camera perspective.
148: Chip & Dale Rescue Rangers (NES) – This is a Disney classic on the NES and not surprisingly, it was made by Capcom. Great game that’s a lot of fun just because it keeps things simple. The design is spot on because you’re tiny and the world is big, so it’s fun jumping around on huge plants and whatever else there is. You can play co-operatively and the fun thing when doing that is that you’re able to pick each other up and throw. This usually leads to conflict in one way or another, in a very fun way.
147: Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island (SNES) – One of the best Mario games, as far as I’m concerned. It was extremely unique to play it back when it was released, because no one understood how Nintendo had the balls to make you play as the Yoshi family instead of actually playing as Mario. I just love the art style of this game, but I always felt that there was something missing. Maybe it was Baby Mario’s damn whining that was the problem?
146: Street Rod (Amiga 500) – One of the most monumentally epic fails in my gaming “career” was when I had gone through this game, winning street race after street race, tweaking cars left and right, repainting them to look nice, etc. It was one of the last races before I’d won all the cars, or something, and I was getting ready to start the race. The countdown starts and I promptly shit the bed and wreck the transmission. Woohoo, all that “work” down the drain and back to the drawing board. Awesome game.
145: Call of Duty 2 (PC) – Well, we’ve been here before. Yet another WW2 game, so I don’t really know what to say. The screenshot I chose for this game is one of the most tense sequences I’ve ever played in a game, where you have to lay down fire on a big town square while hordes of enemies come at you. Just about everything from the first game was improved on in this one, really solid action.
144: Mega Man 5 (NES) – And here is where Mega Man enters my list. The Blue Bomber’s adventures have a few things that make you go “that’s Mega Man” if you come across them. First of all, the music. As far as 8 bit music goes, Mega Man has no peer. His games are simply the best 8 bit music you can find. Then the tight controls. They are just perfect and make the third point possible. The action. It’s just goddamn perfect platform shooting action. In MM5 the concept was getting a bit tiresome, so this was when I stopped playing the 8 bit games. It was still an awesome game though.
143: Doom 3 (PC) – This is a case where iD Software went from an old game and tried to up the ante to what was current. They couldn’t make another mindless shooter with solid level design and no narrative. They also couldn’t make Carmack’s engine work its magic to have many enemies on screen at the same time. So they went for nice narrative and really creepy atmosphere with more shock horror than the looming fear of walking into a room filled with a hundred enemies. I played this with the flashlight mod, because I couldn’t stand not being able to light my way everywhere I went. That was a stupid design decision if there ever was one.
142: MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries (PC) – More BattleTech. This was the first Mech game I ever played, before I started reading all the books, so I didn’t get fully into all the technical bits of it, all the details. I also had no clue what the game was about, but it was cool to control a walking tank and lay waste to a bunch of stuff. I say walking tank, because I go nuts every time I see a Mech referred to as a robot. Mechs need pilots and can’t think for themselves.
141: Snake Rattle ‘n’ Roll (NES) – This was a really fun game. Fun for real. I don’t just mean the gameplay and whatnot. I’m saying that the snakes looked like they were having so much fun and the music had so much swing to it that you couldn’t play this game without enjoying yourself.
140: G-Police (PC) – If only this game would’ve taken off and become insanely popular. Sadly, it didn’t. I just love the whole dark futuristic city that you work in as a part of the police air force or whatever it is. Fantastic action game and a prime reason to own a joystick back in the day. In fact, I’m wondering why they don’t do something similar today. Think Descent in a futuristic urban environment.
139: Rise of the Triad (PC) – This was one of the most fun multiplayer deathmatch games that we used to play on LANs. I can’t actually remember if I played the story part of it and frankly, it doesn’t matter, because we had so much fun with the multiplayer.
138: The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (Gameboy Advance) – This Zelda game helped me pass the time when I moved to another city in 2004 and hadn’t gotten my place set up properly. It follows the, by now, classic Zelda formula and it has a lot of fun elements to it. One of them is the match-the-pieces thing that you do to unlock a bunch of stuff. That really got me going in a really OCD way, because I wanted to find all of them. The talking hat was entertaining too and they did a lot with the regular/mini size changes.
137: Heavy Gear 2 (PC) – More Mech action, or rather Gear action. The publisher behind MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries lost the rights to the MechWarrior brand, so they got the Heavy Gear brand instead. This was the sequel that I spent loads of time trying to get to work on my computer, mainly because it wasn’t released for European keyboards. Trying to re-map the controls by fiddling with config-files was a bitch, but it was worth it. Heavy Gear 2 was amazing.
136: Assassin’s Creed (Xbox 360) – This game had so much promise that went down the toilet because of repetition. You had nine big assassinations to do and for every one of them, you went through the exact same things to prepare for the hit. That kind of repetition got insanely tiresome and effectively killed the game for most people, myself included. The second one is another story, but I’m not done with that yet. Still, for all the faults of the first one, it is a very inspired game with great parkour action.
135: Diablo (PC) – “Stay a while and listen.” How many times have you heard that line? I love the simplicity of this game and in a lot of ways I like it more than the sequel, mainly in terms of level design. All the “levels” you went through to get down to Diablo felt no-brainer and they nailed a lot of the bosses, especially The Butcher.
134: Aliens vs Predator (PC) – The first AvP game for the PC introduced the horde mode that’s become very popular today. That’s not, however, what made this game fantastic. No, this game lives and dies on atmosphere. It has it in spades and I can count on one hand (okay, maybe two) the games that have had me more scared. The aliens were unpredictable because they weren’t always in the same places. When you played as a marine, you faced the aliens for so long that when you finally ran into a predator, you shit your pants. You felt mighty as the predator and fast and sneaky as the alien, just right. It was also really cool to go back to the levels as the other species.
133: NHL 2001 (PC) – This represents all the PC NHL games that I played. If we go by time spent, I should probably have this a lot higher up on the list, but a lot of the time, it was just a war of attrition against the AI. With pretty much every game, I played at least a season with the Detroit Red Wings.
132: Killer Instinct (SNES) – I will go into why I liked this over Street Fighter 2 in another post, but what matters here is that I did. I thought the graphics were awesome and I loved the different fighters. My favorite to play as was Fulgore, but the others were fun too, especially when I learned combo breakers.
131: Probotector (NES) – Contra for the US audience and the soldiers were transformed into robots, but what the hell, it’s the same game. The spread gun has never been as big of a life-saver as in this game and the only thing that keeps this game from being higher on the list is the maddening difficulty. Talk about unforgiving.
130: Castlevania: Circle of the Moon (Gameboy Advance) – The first portable Metroidvania game that had a lot of stuff that I wouldn’t have a clue about if it weren’t for GameFAQs. The different cards you could collect, the combos you could do, etc. Great game even without that knowledge, though, and it’s one of the best Metroidvanias out there.
129: Wolfenstein 3D (PC) – Another game I played in black and white on my dad’s computer with PC audio. When I played this in color and with a proper soundcard for the first time, I was floored. It was such a badass game to play and I was playing this game for a long time. Moving along a wall, pushing the use button to try and find secret doors took up a lot of my time in my early teens. So worth it.
128: Need for Speed 2 (PC) – This is kind of a collection post for NFS2, NFS3, High Stakes and Porsche Challenge, but mostly for NFS2. These were all fun racing games in singleplayer, with High Stakes probably being the most fun of the bunch, but when it came to multiplayer NFS2 had them all beat. My friends and I used to play all of the stages, but one in particular got a whole bunch of playing time with us, although I can’t remember its name now. I used to spend the first lap driving the wrong way and then turn around when I met (read: crashed into head first) the other guys who were going the right way. Then I would spend the remaining seven or eight laps in catchup mode, going faster than what would normally be possible. It was so much fun.
126: Castle Crashers (Xbox 360) – This far into the list, it should be obvious that I like co-op play. Castle Crashers is pure co-op awesome in a little jar. One of the best games available on XBLA, with its unique art style and hilarious game design. We basically went through this game, four of us, in one sitting and the time just disappeared. When we were done, we thought the time was about midnight. It was 3 AM. Go figure.
I have a bunch of work stuff to take care of this week, so I don’t know how much writing I’ll be able to get done. I’ll get 125-101 up before Friday.