Not in a writing mood, but might as well push through it and get down to 61 on the list. I’ve had a few chaotic weeks, emotionally, but it’s best to push that aside and try to accomplish something, even if that’s just a small thing such as writing a nostalgia-filled list. Let’s go!
70: Portal (PC) – When this game came out I didn’t fall for it instantly. I had to play it through a second time to really appreciate all the good things it offers. It was revolutionary and re-invented how you look at 3D gaming and it was a real challenge to think your way through all the puzzles. GLaDOS is quite possibly the funniest antagonist ever. The worst thing about this game is that the net got over saturated with “The cake is a lie!” jokes that ARE NOT FUCKING FUNNY! Pretty much everything else about it is genius. It’s just a pity that it’s a bit too short.
69: Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow (Nintendo DS) – My favorite of the Castlevania games. Feels like there isn’t much more to say about it, but I try to compare it to all of the other games, both the ones that came before it and the ones that came after. The conclusion I come to, for me, is that this got the concept perfected while still adding fresh things. I think they went too far with how Portrait of Ruin took the concept to another place in the next game and from what I’ve played of Order of Ecclesia, I don’t like that one at all, even though the higher difficulty is interesting. Dawn of Sorrow has the perfect blend of difficulty, hammy story, interesting weapons and abilities while also introducing the touch screen function in a good way for the boss fights.
68: Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory (PC) – Fantastic sneaking action here. As far as pre-Conviction Splinter Cell games go, this is the one you want. It’s beautiful, you get a good set of moves, the missions are interesting and the story is kept engaging. All the while the atmosphere stays at its peak throughout the whole game.
67: MechWarrior 4: Vengeance (PC) – Good shit, although the mech building stuff was a bit too simplified for my taste. Can be downloaded for free these days, I think. The story was fairly interesting and a bit more personally engaging than the rest of the games, but as a BattleTech nut, I don’t need a basic “they killed my family, now I want revenge” story. I understand that people who don’t know BattleTech inside and out would like that kind of story better, to motivate them to play a bit more, but I don’t need it.
66: FreeSpace 2 (PC) – The most epic space action flight sim ever created. This game has so much atmosphere and such perfect flight sim controls that beyond ridiculous. It’s too bad that there has never been a sequel to it, because the story was really interesting too. The music and sound design is still insanely good and would definitely hold up today.
65: Peggle (Xbox 360) – Second most addictive puzzle game I’ve ever played. You just can’t stop playing Peggle once you start. You just need to get through all of the puzzles and clear all the challenges. Trying to figure out what character is the best for each puzzle is a nice little facet, but mostly it’s just about making the perfect plays.
64: Meteos (Nintendo DS) – Most addictive handheld puzzle game I’ve ever played. This was the perfect game for me to buy for my DS early on, because it showed how uniquely you could use touch controls compared to the classic controller input of a D-pad and buttons. Even today with all the smartphones, you still can’t get as good responsiveness with your finger on an iPhone compared to this. It becomes a frenzy and you try to get all the pieces up in the air as more gets dumped on you.
63: Shadow Complex (Xbox 360) – Metroidvania in high definition. Shadow Complex intrigued me early on and when I found out that two books were being written to support and flesh out the story in conjunction with the game, I got even more excited. It has excellent gameplay and it’s a giant love letter to all the other Metroidvania games. If I have to say anything outright bad about it, the game is a bit short, but at least it’s short and sweet. The books by Orson Scott Card are good too.
62: Moonstone (Amiga 500) – Quite possibly the bloodiest game on the Amiga 500. This was so much fun to play along with three friends, each of you getting a knight that is really bad-ass. I see it as the spiritual predecessor to Castle Crashers, but this game has no humor whatsoever. All the enemies are really scary in their own right and you fear some of them a lot. The multiplayer dynamic makes the competition pretty exciting. The others know if you find something important and then they can go after you. Then it’s on and only a duel will settle it.
61: Blackhawk (SNES) – Also known as Blackthorne. Blizzard knows how to make solid, storydriven platform action and this grim tale just teems atmosphere. There is a nice progression of skill in how your gun gets upgraded every few levels and the puzzles forces you to play patiently and methodically, much like Flashback which is higher up on the list. Very engaging game.
After the next post, there will just be 50 games left. Insane numbers if you think about it, but there are a bunch of great games out there and I’ve missed a bunch of them too.
It’s getting more and more interesting for every post that I get closer to the number one spot. Moving along down to spot 71 today and some really fun games are coming up. Check out this tag for the all the posts about the list, as usual.
80: Metroid Fusion (Gameboy Advance) – Samus Aran is a great heroine and I actually didn’t like this game that much at first. The changes to the classic Metroid concept, the fact that there were no metroids, it was all a bit hard to accept. About a fifth into the game, though, it became a lot of fun and the weird looking suit that Samus was wearing didn’t look so weird anymore. Her voicing her thoughts got interesting after a while too and all in all, I’m amazed that they managed to pack all that into a small GBA game. You went through the game being really scared of the evil Samus clone that was totally badass.
79: Gears of War 2 (Xbox 360) – Big step up from the first game in pretty much every aspect. Better graphics, better weapons, better control, better action, better narrative, better multiplayer, and so on. Gears is still very gray and brown, which is a bit of a drag, but the action is extremely solid and it’s a lot of fun as a co-op experience. Both the story and the Horde mode are good fun to play together with a friend and the goals you got for achievements made for some extra fun.
78: Mega Man 4 (NES) – The fourth Mega Man game was a clear step down from the previous game in the series, but it still had incredibly solid action, control and music, staples for the Mega Man games. Pharoah Man is the robot master I remember the most from that one, especially because of how his weapon killed off the last boss.
77: Mirror’s Edge (Xbox 360) – Before this game got released I watched the trailer over and over and I fell in love completely with the music and the aesthetic. I obviously didn’t know how the game would feel, so that was still a big question mark, but from the moment I finished watching that trailer, I knew I would love this game and I did. The feel of the free running is almost perfect and the way you navigate the levels is so intuitive.
76: Doom 2 (PC) – I never actually played the first Doom. I know, I know… but I played the second one a whole lot and we had a lot of fun with this one in multiplayer, especially with the version we played that we got from my friend’s big brother. He had changed the sounds of the game into a bunch of randomness with him and his friends. Random sounds aside, Doom 2 is a a scary game and it was extra scary back in the day.
75: International Karate + / IK+ (Amiga 500) – This game was pure cool back when we used to play it. The coolest thing you could pull off was the double kick to knock down both of the opponents. You, your friend, a TAC-2 joystick each and then just go to town on each other (and the CPU opponent). The bonus games between the matches were a lot of fun too, especially the weird one where bouncing balls and heads came at you.
74: Baldur’s Gate (PC) – I have a confession to make. I never actually finished the first Baldur’s Gate. I think I got about two thirds through before I stopped playing. That’s not a slight on the game, though, that’s just me being stupid. It’s a very good game and I loved the lush forests when I played it. My biggest gripe was that it was so very low-level. You never really built your character into something really interesting. Still, this set the standard for high fantasy games and still holds up today.
73: Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (Gameboy Advance) – The best Castlevania game on the GBA and it took the series to a new level. Soma Cruz is a weird name for a hero, but it is what it is and he is okay as the protagonist. Not much to say, really, it’s more Metroidvania that’s incredibly polished.
72: N+ (Xbox 360) – There is an achievement in this game that you get when you die a thousand times. You will die a thousand times on the way to finishing all the levels. It is so minimalistic yet still so fun because of the perfect platforming. It has a fun co-op component to it too and a huge amount of challenging levels.
71: Resident Evil 2 (GameCube) – The Resident Evil series is, on the whole, one of my favorite game universes. I’ve played a lot of the games and I’ve also read a bunch of the books. Zombies are quite simply a very effective horror to build stories around and Resident Evil took this one step further with all of the other horrors that the Umbrella Corporation unleashed upon the world. The second chapter in the game series is a memorable one and I really liked going through the game with both Leon and Claire. The police station was a great choice of location for this second game and the lickers gave me a lot of scares.
I feel like writing “some really fun games here” but that’s been true for pretty much every post and it only gets more and more fun, at least for me, the further I get into this list. Thoughts?
Time to count down some more on the list. As always, check out this tag to view all of the posts about the list.
90: Indiana Jones & The Fate Of Atlantis (PC) – This was probably the first point and click game that I really finished. Played it on my dad’s computer and it was really tricky. I really don’t understand why they didn’t just adapt this for the big screen when they made Indy 4, instead going with that Crystal Skull BS that turned out to be extremely “meh”. This game isn’t like most of the other point and click games that I’ve tried, in that it’s not completely illogical and whacky all the time. Most of the time you can figure out the puzzles without much help. This was the last great Indiana Jones game.
89: Ikaruga (GameCube) – Shoot ’em up’s grand master as far as I’m concerned. You kind of need to re-program your brain to be successful at this game, but when you do, you just “get it”. What I’m talking about is the polarity mechanic. When you’re light, you absorb light attacks and you do normal damage to light enemies. But you take damage from dark attacks and you do double damage to dark enemies. And vice versa of course. Since the game only uses three buttons (one for basic attack, one for the special attack you build up to by absorbing enemy attacks and lastly, one for polarity shift), it seems easy to get into, but the learning curve is crazy steep. Then one day, you just stop playing frantically and learn how to use the polarity shift to your advantage and everything is a breeze. That’s when you can get into attack combos to max out your score, but I never really cared for that.
88: Gears of War (Xbox 360) – This first game in the Gears series is pretty good, but it’s not close to the second one. You kind of get thrown into the middle of things and you don’t really understand what’s happening. But then you get some levels into it and the atmosphere really ramps up. It’s a good co-op game, but sometimes it can be a bit frustrating. Great action, though, and it’s really visceral. The soldiers are ridiculously macho, but it’s all part of the game.
87: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Xbox 360) – Some people probably thought this would end up higher on the list, but I thought this was a huge letdown after how well the previous Modern Warfare game played. It’s still incredibly solid action and the Spec Ops missions are fun, but that doesn’t take away the comparatively sour taste the single player campaign left me with. It’s not bad by any means, it’s just not great. Now obviously, I haven’t really played it on Xbox Live, but I’ve played it on local deathmatch and that’s pretty fun, especially creating a class that runs constantly.
86: The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind (PC) – Morrowind captivated me so much when it was first released. It was choppy like hell on my computer, but soooo beautiful. The music was wonderful and I could literally sit for a long time and just look at the night sky in the game. That’s how mesmerized I was. It’s a dirty, grimy RPG that really makes you feel like you’re a part of that world. The outlandish world was a bit much at times, but I had a lot of fun doing alchemical stuff, especially when it meant I could create a potion that would make me fly for three minutes while making me invisible. Lots of fun and very unbalanced. I never finished the game, but I still spent over 50 hours on it. The game is simply huge.
85: Cannon Fodder (Amiga 500) – War has never been so much fun! A game where you control tiny soldiers and kill enemies in the jungle. If one of your guys dies, you just grab another one from the long line of recruits. But you want your guys to live long so they get to go up in rank, etc. I played through this with one of my friends on his Amiga 500 and it was a complete blast from beginning to end. It has a lot of humor and you get a taste of it quickly because of the song that plays at the beginning of the game where the singer goes “War has never been so much fun!”. Why this hasn’t been remade into a current-gen game is so beyond me that I don’t know where to begin.
84: Bionic Commando Rearmed (Xbox 360) – The original was fun, this is that much fun and much, much more. The whole game has been remade into this lovechild of high definition graphics and sound and the gameplay of the old NES version. It just rocks. The feel of the game is perfect and the music consists of cool remixes of the original tunes. It also has a bunch of challenge rooms that I’ve tried to grind. I have the final room left and it just kills me. All of the other rooms have one tricky obstacle, two at most. The 56th room has an endless amount of tricky things to overcome, so you really need a perfect run to make your way through all of it. The game has co-op too, but weirdly enough, my best friend and I haven’t really spent that much time on it.
83: Condemned: Criminal Origins (PC) – A cross between brutal streetfighting, CSI and a horror movie, Condemned was a big and pleasant surprise when I played through it. As Ethan Thomas, you’re an investigator who gets caught up in a crime plot, trying to find a serial killer who imitates other serial killers. The game has an incredible amount of atmosphere and the hand-to-hand combat is really violent and visceral. Just one guy coming at you freaks you out a lot. Imagine three at once and you’re really on your toes. Awesome game. I’ve tried the sequel but that was a giant “meh” in comparison.
82: Colin McRae DiRT (Xbox 360) – I love rally games. It’s a special kind of driving challenge and you really need to pay attention to the guy calling out turns for you. DiRT has a great rally section but it also has a bunch of other disciplines for you to master. Some of them are just tiresome, like the buggy races and trucker races. But the hill climb and duel races are a lot of fun, plus the main part of the game is still rally racing. It is beautiful and it has great drive feeling.
81: Aliens vs Predator 2 (PC) – One of the scariest things in gaming is to play as a Marine in any AvP game and have a motion tracker go off and suddenly start beeping while you can’t see anything in the direction of the beeping. This game has that in spades. The only thing that’s a shame is that it’s heavily scripted. In the first game the aliens ran around randomly so you were never safe, even if you had played the level before. On the other hand, this game has a great story and great narrative. It’s also more interesting to play as the alien because you evolve throughout the game.
Alright, so that’s enough for this time. I plan on getting up part 80-71 on Saturday. Thoughts?
Let me show you the single most brilliant news text that has ever been published:
(Reuters) – A German student created a major traffic jam in Bavaria after making a rude gesture at a group of Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang members, hurling a puppy at them and then escaping on a stolen bulldozer.
That bit of genius is from this news report. I don’t think I should have to say more. The text sort of says it all, don’t you think? If anyone can find anything that tops that collection of 36 magical words, let me know!
Yes, of course. Elected Democrats held a rally in New York, calling for the “terrorists” who organized the Ship to Gaza flotilla to be banned from the US so they can’t get into the country. They want visas to be denied and all that jazz. I love how they call aid workers terrorists and how a humanitarian aid effort is somehow a terrorist action. Goddamn idiots.
Alright, let’s get to it. This was the original goal of the list, for me to showcase my 100 favorite games. We’re here now, so let’s keep going.
100: Heavy Gear (PC) – Activision lost the MechWarrior licence and quickly secured the next best thing as far as North American mech universes go. Heavy Gear was fairly established, so they used an upgraded version of the engine that they used for MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries and created this game. I love the MechWarrior games, but this one isn’t far behind. The gears are more mobile than mechs, so the action was a little bit faster, which was a nice change of pace.
99: Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow (PC) – The Sam Fisher Saga, part two. The second game was essentially more of the same as the first with just some graphical upgrades. Sadly, what has been the most touted component of Pandora Tomorrow, the creative multiplayer mode, was something that I never even touched. I really wish I did, especially now that I’ve had some fun with the multiplayer in Splinter Cell Conviction.
98: Shogo: Mobile Armor Division (PC) – Here’s a game that’s gotten way too little fanfare through the years. Monolith made this game and part of it is just bland corridor shooting, but then you also have the giant mech action in the vein of Japanese anime like Gundam or Evangelion. Spice the whole thing up with incredibly hammy characterization and voice acting and it’s a smash hit in my mind. Some of the weapons in this game took shooting to a new level, mainly because Monolith could go over the top like crazy with the mech action.
97: Action Quake 2 (PC) – Time for another mod on the list. This time it’s a mod for Quake 2 that limits the weapons you can carry and also how much damage you can take. If you get hit you need to bandage the wound if you don’t want to bleed out and die. We used to play this a bunch on some LANs and it was a lot of fun. Every map only had one of each special weapon and one of each equipment, which made for some interesting strategies. The flak vest along with the assault rifle was a nice combo, but so was the slippers and the sawed-off shotgun. The slippers removed any sound you made when walking, so they were perfect for you to run around with, sticking the most powerful short range weapon in the game up someone’s ass.
96: Guitar Hero 2 (Xbox 360) – Guitar Hero 2 has had the following effect on the songs I’ve tried to grind to perfection: Every time I hear them, I visualize the notes coming at me on the screen. This happens every single time I hear Sweet Child of Mine by Guns ‘n’ Roses, etc, etc. I don’t have the talent to take on all of the songs on expert difficulty immediately, but after I’ve had the chance to play them on hard first – for a few weeks – then I can give them a try on expert. Incredibly fun game and for me, this was what started the whole music game craze.
95: Outcast (PC) – Cutter Slade. Now there’s a name, a masculine hero’s name. This game is probably the best game ever that’s the least played. It is action adventure perfection and it still holds up today, almost 11 years after its release. It is another game that is based on voxel graphics, which gave it rolling hills and huge environments for you to walk around in. It had an alien race that was in awe of you and considered you to be a god, which made for some hilarious interaction. But in the end, this is simply an incredibly solid game that should be played by more people.
94: F.E.A.R. (PC) – More Monolith. This game has the most ridiculous acronym in its title. FEAR apparently stands for First Encounter Assault Recon. Now, this may just be my ignorance, but I was under the impression that assault and recon are two vastly different combat types. One is light and designed for swift movement with some stealth purposes, while the other is Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie Commando. Regardless, this game has some of the tightest action I’ve ever played and it’s really scary too. It kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire duration and I also wanted to know what happened with the storyline right up until the very end. That doesn’t happen often with shooters.
93: Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway (Xbox 360) – You might think that for this one I will say “Yet another WW2 shooter, you know the drill” but BiAHH has the best narrative I’ve experienced in any WW2 game and that’s by a damn mile. This game has an extremely engaging storyline and I haven’t even played the previous Brothers in Arms games. The action is interesting, since you need to utilize the rest of your squad to succeed in the game. The atmosphere and the environments are very nice and after you get into the story, you start being a bit more careful of how you order your squadmates around because you don’t want them to die because of your recklessness.
92: Double Dragon 2 (NES) – Co-op fun on the NES! I love how brutal this game was and its difficulty was just right to be challenging but not annoying. I used to “cheat” by starting a two player game and then killing my brother until all his lives were gone. What happened was that if I killed him so he lost a life, I gained that life, effectively doubling my lives as I went through the game alone. It was the poor man’s Konami code.
91: Braid (Xbox 360) – When I first started this game I just sat there watching the water color painting that was suddenly on my TV screen, listening to the wonderful string music that flowed out of the speakers. Easily one of the most beautiful games ever and it encourages players to be creative with game mechanics as the game moves forward. Storywise it is an engaging tale that is told through books between the levels and when you get to the end it is all put on edge and you start reconsidering the whole experience. Simply sublime game design and I look forward to the next game by Jonathan Blow.
So that’s the first batch of ten out of the top 100. Thoughts? I actually had a thought. I should count how many games are from each platform when I’m done with the entire list. I haven’t consciously tried to limit myself to balance stuff out or anything.