So I’ve been playing a couple of games recently, smaller ones. I have a bunch of triple A titles for the Xbox 360 and PC (and other platforms too for that matter) to get through as well, but in the last few days I’ve really loved playing two games.
K.O.L.M. is a game that reminds me of the Metroidvania style games and that’s why the abbreviation stands for Kind Of Like Metroid. It’s got great, albeit pixellated, art direction and the music is hauntingly beautiful. It’s just about as simple as you can get it in the Metroidvania concept, but it still has a few touches that makes it stand out. First, the narrative about the mother and the robot and how the relation between them is presented. Second, the consciously pixellated graphics that are still beautiful even if they’re very monochrome, especially the way the game zooms in and out depending on how big the rooms are. It’s not a very long game so check it out, but keep in mind that it’s purposefully slow in the beginning.
You can find it here.
Game Dev Story is a little masterpiece that I got for my Android phone a few days ago but didn’t play until last night and boy, did I get hooked. I must have played it for six hours straight. I just couldn’t put it down. Awesome entertainment. It’s like Theme Park but with the twist that you control a game developer studio and you create games by assigning tasks to your different employees. You have designers, coders, sound engineers and a lot more and as you create better and better games, they sell better and you get to expand your studio and employ more people and create even better games by leveling up your employees and training them in different disciplines. It’s all done in this extremely charming retro package and the references to the different platforms (my most successful game has been for the Sonny PlayStatus). It costs a couple of bucks but it’s sooooo worth it.
Time to fire up this list again, now that I’m back in action and everything. For those of you who are only checking out the list because I’m linking to it, I’ve been cranking out a few other posts lately. Check them out if you’d like. Anyhow, time to get down to 51 so there are only 50 games left. As usual you can find the older posts by checking out this tag.
60: No One Lives Forever (PC) – Cate Archer is the agent that, to me, is a classy mix between James Bond, Austin Powers and whatever female action hero you want to throw at the screen. In fact, Archer’s boss seems to be ripped right out of Austin Powers, copying the boss from those movies. But it all ends up being a very nice mix of action, bright colors, fun gadgets, hilarious dialogue and just an overall sense of humor that’s spot on.
59: Metroid Prime (GameCube) – I never actually completed this game, because I took a break pretty far into it and then when I got back to playing it I had forgotten the layout of all the places and I was supposed to find a bunch of hidden glyphs or something. That’s one of my biggest gaming regrets, but in the end… it doesn’t really matter. But I digress. Metroid Prime was for a very long time the GameCube game with the most powerful ambience. At first I was very skeptical about how the developers would transfer the Metroid feel into the first person perspective, but they pulled it off. The music also needs to be mentioned because even if it’s distinctly different from the other Metroid games, it’s still pure perfection for this particular game. Some of the platforming gets a bit old at times, but the action is tense and generally the play sessions end up being really long because you can’t stop playing.
58: Rainbow Six (PC) – I bought this game before I bought the book, but the game was goddamn awesome back in the day. It was like nothing else that had been released back then. Everything was just run and shoot monsters and suddenly, here came a tactical shooter where you shot terrorists and a single bullet could kill. You could also plan the missions in detail, but I wasn’t very good at that. I usually let my guys stand back so I could sneak through the level myself, but there were a few missions that forced me to plan an assault that came through two or three entry points simultaneously and that was just beautiful. The game’s story is a bit gimped compared to the novel, but for the time it was released, it was pretty good. I just wished I read the book before I played the game.
57: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Xbox 360) – I should begin saying that I never got hooked on the online multiplayer in this game. We played a bunch of split screen deathmatch, but my most lasting impression of this game is the single player part. The sequel was waaaay too all over the place, whereas this one was very focused and the narrative moving between characters and present/past worked perfectly. It wasn’t over-used or anything. The sneak-and-snipe mission in flashback Russia is one of the most memorable gaming moments ever. The game is extremely tense throughout the entire experience and it’s a must-play if you have an Xbox 360. There’s just one thing that got to me with this game and that’s the fact that I got it into my head that I should max out the achievements, resulting in me grinding my way through the story on veteran mode, which in turn resulted in me dying about … hell, I don’t know. 2500 times? I really have no clue. I just know that I died. A lot. And I didn’t even max out the game. I gave up on the next-to-last mission. Still an awesome game, though.
56: Bioshock (Xbox 360) – A lot of people love this game and praise it because of the freedom in how you choose your skill progression and whatnot. Same with the storyline and the way the characters and the story are presented. These people have obviously not played System Shock 2. I have and that’s why Bioshock ends up in spot 56 and not higher up. Seriously though, it is a very special game and it has mood and ambience coming out the wazoo. Rapture, the underwater city the game takes place in, is a character in itself because of its presentation. I also love that this game takes an enormous dump on the so-called “philosophy” of the hypocritical and intellectually dishonest bitch/so-called author Ayn Rand. Objectivism deserves every bit of shit thrown at it and this game illustrates beautifully how fucked up it is.
55: Advance Wars DS (Nintendo DS) – When I got my DS, I got a handful of games and this was one of them. I didn’t really get around to playing it all that quickly because I didn’t really know what to expect from it. I hadn’t played the Advance Wars games that had been released for the Gameboy Advance, so I wasn’t really hyped about the DS game. Then I started playing it and I just couldn’t put it down. It is a perfect game for the DS as a platform and while the characters and story are EXTREMELY corny, they actually work and they actually engage me as a player to keep going until the end. The single player story part is also perfectly balanced in terms of difficulty progression.
54: Day of the Tentacle (PC) – This could very well be the funniest game I’ve ever played all the way through. It has some of the most hilarious writing ever and it’s perfectly complemented by the animation, art style and voice acting. Hoagie is my favorite character, but they’re all golden. The puzzles are really ingenious, especially since you have to send stuff back and forth between different time periods.
53: Thief: The Dark Project (PC) – Garrett, the protagonist of the Thief series, is one of my all-time anti-heroes. He does the right thing when he has to, but he also does the morally wrong thing when he wants to. He’s also been the inspiration to a character I started writing a novel about. I played the second game before I played this one, so it was like taking a step back in some respects, but not enough to make it a worse experience overall. There are several scary levels in the game, but the Bonehoard almost made me shit my pants. The zombies were extremely scary because, as Garrett, you’re not very powerful. The regular guards were also scary, of course, but the unstoppable zombies were one step beyond annoying. Tense doesn’t even begin to describe the Thief series. It is a beautiful experience.
52: Flashback (SNES) – How a game could have such a strong and movie-like narrative on such a relatively weak console as the SNES is astounding. I would almost go so far as to call it pixel perfection, if it weren’t for the somewhat confusing beginning of the game. Every movement by every character in the game seems so lifelike, which was very impressive at that time. Motion capture wasn’t really common then. The whole job system is also interesting.
51: Neverwinter Nights (PC) – I never actually really played this game on my own. I spent a week or so at a friend’s house and we co-oped our way through NWN. Another friend jumped in here and there too. I was playing as a rogue/mage while my friend was a tank wielding dual weapons. I pelted the enemies with arrows and sometimes laid traps. Later on I started throwing magic missiles and fireballs wherever I could and I also found that buff spells were really useful. Normally I don’t use buff spells in RPGs. Anyway, NWN’s story is nothing I remember right now, but I do remember the atmosphere. That game’s atmosphere made the entire experience. The co-op element was also extremely entertaining and easy to control.
There, down to the fifties, down to the nitty gritty.
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?
It’s high time I get down below the hundreds, so here we are with the last few games before we get there.
125: Splinter Cell (PC) – The first adventure with Sam Fisher and this was a revelation to me when it was released. I’d always loved the narrative maturity of the Tom Clancy games and this one was no different. You really felt like a ghost sneaking around and taking guys out, but you had to be a ninja, because if you got several guys after you, you were pretty much toast.
124: Geometry Wars: Evolved 2 (Xbox 360) – I didn’t like the first one at all, I thought the learning curve was way too steep. When this was released I was a bit hesitant, but trying out the different game modes sold me on it. What I love about this game is the combined frantic and calm nature that comes with it. There can be a hundred things happening on the screen and in all that chaos, you succeed the most when you stay calm and learn how to prioritize among the targets while figuring out how to move.
123: Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (Gameboy Advance) – The amount of time you can sink into this kind of turn-based strategy RPG is mindblowing and I have a friend who’s been almost religious about this genre. Myself, I got about halfway through the storyline while building my team. It’s really addicting trying to plan out how you want your guys to develop.
122: Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64) – I think this is the only N64 game I’ve got on the list because I was never a fan of that console. I did, however, love playing Super Mario 64. It’s been said countless times, but this was the first game that really brought solid 3D platforming controls to gaming. This had everything we all love about the Mario games. Incredibly solid platforming while moving the genre forward. It was just plain fun to play.
121: Diablo 2 (PC) – For the longest time I regarded the original Diablo to be the better game, mainly because it annoyed me that the sequel had you playing in the desert and in the jungle. Those were very un-Diablo-like areas. Still, the game was a lot of fun to play with other people. I didn’t, however, get completely stuck in grinding that some of my friends thought was so much fun. I just thought it was a fun hack and slash. And no, it is no RPG. I hate it when people label it as that.
120: StarCraft (PC) – More Blizzard. I think this was the last RTS I really played extensively. The reason why is because one of my friends got insanely hooked on it and beat the rest of us with no problem. That made me go “huh… so I suck at this… fuck it” and I spent most of my time playing action games from then on. The music still gives me chills and I’m actually curious about the sequel. First time in over a decade that I’m curious about an RTS.
119: Day of Defeat (PC) – Woohoo, even more WW2 shooting. However, this time it’s not some bland single player campaign, so that doesn’t matter. Day of Defeat was the WW2 response to Counter-Strike and it was a lot of fun to play.
118: Rainbow Six Vegas 2 (Xbox 360) – This was a tricky one to rank. On one hand there were many gameplay improvements over the first R6 Vegas, but on the other the story and environments were quite uninspiring. I had a lot of fun with it, especially in co-op, both in story and terrorist hunt, but in the end the game was too bland to get a higher ranking.
117: Batman (NES) – Badass. That’s what this game is. I haven’t sunk my teeth into Batman: Arkham Asylum yet, but I hear it’s the best Batman game ever. Well, before that, this game held that honor. It has it all. Great action, tight controls, awesome music and more atmosphere than 50 other NES games put together.
116: Blood (PC) – One gadget I used to dominate the multiplayer games between me and my friends was the crystal ball. With it I could camp at a spot while I saw the perspective of another player. Then when he was in a good, vulnerable spot, I’d pounce on him and take him out. Worked all the time. The voodoo doll weapon was fun too and Caleb is one of the more memorable one-liner-spewing main characters in any game. Everything brought to us by the good old Build engine.
115: Super Monkey Ball (GameCube) – Monkey Target. That’s all I should have to say here. The minigame that stole the thunder from the regular gameplay. My friends and I spent a lot of time on that, gliding towards the different target zones. We also spent a lot of time playing Monkey Fight, which was very brutal in a cute and fun way. But seriously, this game should be played for Monkey Target alone.
114: Civilization 2 (PC) – Oldie but goldie and a lot of fun in multiplayer, provided you have a lot of time on your hands. I haven’t really sat down with any of the sequels, but I’ve wanted to. If only I had more time… but Civ is always Civ and this classic series was a mammoth early on. I remember one of my friends having the huuuuge manual that came with the original game. You could kill people with that brick.
113: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (Xbox 360) – I know this was originally released on the PlayStation, but I never had one of those and played this the first time on Xbox Live Arcade. I really like it, but some of the sequels on the GBA and the DS have been improved on greatly. Some of the funniest moments in gaming are the voiceovers the few times there is dialogue happening.
112: Fahrenheit (PC) – Any game that contains necrophilia has to be good, right? No, it’s not THAT sick. It’s actually fairly romantic necrophilia. Okay, seriously, this game is fantastic for the first three quarters and then it just tanks in a mess of mysticism and weirdness. Before that it is a great detective game with great narrative. The European version wasn’t censored, so we got the love scenes and some other weirdness. It was called Indigo Prophecy in North America.
111: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: The Manhattan Project (NES) – I remember getting this on one of those Japanese import cartridges and what I loved the most about it was that the turtles actually had individual special moves. I liked Michaelangelo’s the most, the way he’d catapult himself up in the air, taking any foot soldiers along with him.
110: Rock Band 2 (Xbox 360) – Multiplayer music! This is just plain fun, although I can’t play the drums worth a damn. But I can still sing and play guitar 🙂 It’s a bitch to do both at the same time if you don’t know the lyrics and melody by heart.
109: MDK (PC) – Murder Death Kill is what I heard this stands for when it came out. It’s one of the more unique games I’ve played, an interesting mix of shooting, platforming, style and humor. One of those that I wish could get a fresh coat of paint for the current generation of consoles.
108: MechCommander (PC) – Ah, yes, BattleTech. This is an awesome strategy game, especially when you get down to the nitty-gritty of how to build mechs and stuff like that. It doesn’t have the prettiest graphics, but I still think it’s a solid game to pull out from time to time. It’s a real thrill to take down a MadCat with a few lighter mechs.
107: Odium (PC) – This was also released as Gorky 17 and I think the developers are Polish. It’s a semi-weird game that gave me a lot of Fallout vibes because of the grid- and turnbased combat while telling a scary story about covert mutations by the Russian army or something like that.
106: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4: Turtles in Time (SNES) – This is one of the funniest multiplayer games I know. It’s a pretty fast run to go through the whole game along with someone else and the action is as good as it gets on consoles for a turtle lover.
105: Star Wars: Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast (PC) – The best Star Wars game I’ve had the priviledge to play. Going through the game, plowing through hordes of stormtroopers with ease was fun, yes, but not exactly earthshattering. Then, when you started facing off against other opponents with lightsabers and force powers, guys that were not bosses, the game took a turn and got very tense, because you could stumble upon one of these guys at any turn. Taking on three or four at once was so damn fun.
104: S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (PC) – Another game that just oozes atmosphere. It’s a bit slow in the beginning when you don’t have any equipment at all, but then it really gets going, especially when you start moving past the halfway point. I had a lot of fun with this and it was both good action as well as scary during some parts of it. Too bad it was quite buggy.
103: Stunts (PC) – I don’t know how many tracks I made for this game. The thing is, I didn’t really make them so they could be standard racing tracks. No, I wanted to break the game and find loopholes. Take a long straight road heading right towards a hill and then at the top of the hill, put a big ramp, then see what happens. I was able to make the game get my car driving upside down and mirrored, so if I pressed the left arrow key, it turned right. A lot of fun.
102: Metroid Zero Mission (Gameboy Advance) – I never got myself to play through the entire game of Metroid and I had to hunt for this game for a long time before I could find it at an affordable price, but boy was it worth it. Adding the last part of the game was a genius move and made you appreciate the suit even more.
101: Bionic Commando (Xbox 360) – At first, when I started playing this, I really didn’t think that much of it. The controls felt clunky and you couldn’t really do much. However, at some point during the game, I got the hang of the controls and some of the added abilities really made the game fun. Even though the story is as cheesy as they come (most ridiculous plot twist ever), the action is just so damn solid. It’s incredibly entertaining to swing around like some weird monkey while really kicking a lot of ass. This game was a pleasant surprise.
Alright, all done with the first 200 games of this list. From now on I will post ten games per post. What do you think so far?