Leonhart's Top 50 Games was a list compiled in early 2011, the first writeup topic he ever made regarding his favorite games.
So after all that talk about Final Fantasy VIII, how could any game possibly ever top that? Well, Final Fantasy X’s a special kind of game that I had a similar type of connection with, and it’s also why Tidus ends up as my #2 character ever. FFX is a game I just keep finding myself going back to over and over again to this day. I don’t play FFVII, FFVIII, or FFIX all that often anymore (although I did replay through them all last year for old time’s sake for the first time in a while), but man, I still play through FFX at least once per year. I can’t help it. This game just gets it all right, from presentation to atmosphere to gameplay to story to characters to soundtrack to leveling system to cheesiness to just plain fun. I love darn near everything about this game.
I’d say the thing that gives Final Fantasy X such a special place in my heart as my favorite game was just the overall experience. This is one of those rare games I managed to play through without having anything spoiled for me. As a result, I really felt like I was seeing Spira through the eyes of Tidus. I went into it knowing as much about that world as he did, so as he learned, I learned. I got really attached to him and the other characters throughout the game, so the ending was naturally pretty devastating and emotional for me. I still can’t watch that thing without getting chills, and there’s no telling how many times I’ve seen it. It’s such a wonderful story. People talk about how cliché or predictable the plot twists were, but I’m not usually good at figuring those things out beforehand, so they got me good.
I love Final Fantasy X’s battle system and leveling system though. I love the CTB system. It’s cool how the choices you make affect how quickly your turn comes back around the next time and stuff like that. That’s one of the things I liked about FFT, so I’m glad they brought it back around. I also loved being able to switch between party members on the fly. In fact, I always try to get all of the party members involved in every battle so they level up equally. I love the Sphere Grid system and leveling up that way. It’s fun watching them grow as unique job classes for the most part throughout the story, and it seems like it’s set up perfectly so that, as long as you don’t grind and overlevel, by the time you reach endgame stuff, that’s about the point you’ll reach the end of that character’s Sphere Grid and be able to branch out elsewhere (except for Kimahri, obviously). Then you can just power level to your heart’s content and break the game wide open. It was great having two phases to the leveling and battle system like that. I also loved hearing the characters talk and interact with each other and smack talk the enemies during battle. Character interaction is top notch in this game, and that’s one of the reasons why.
Final Fantasy X has just the right level of challenge, too. It had some excellent enemies and some awesome boss fights. I loved the various locations in Spira. They were beautifully designed and memorable. It’s probably one of my favorite worlds in an RPG. Didn’t miss the world map in this one! I enjoyed doing the Cloister of Trials things the first time through. They were neat puzzles. I think the only time I had to look up a solution was for Djose’s. I loved blitzball, too, but I think it’s the most fun at low levels with the Aurochs. It’s too easy to get much better than the other teams as you level up to the point where you can just run up the score and never get challenged (although putting up 10+-0 scores on the slow as molasses Ronso Fangs can be fun, too). Struggling to beat the Al Bhed Psyches with how ridiculous Nimrook is at low levels is fun. I remember holding on at 0-0 for regulation and barely managing to get one past him in overtime for an epic victory.
And yes, I like the voice acting. I think J. Arnold Taylor did a good job as Tidus with a voice that fits his character. Hedy Burress left something to be desired as Yuna, yes, but I think whenever she has lines where you can’t see her mouth so she’s not so concerned with lip-syncing, she does fine. Matt Mackenzie is an awesome Auron, and Tara Strong does solid voice work as usual with Rikku. Jecht’s gruff voice is excellent, of course. Plus, I like cheesiness in my games, so things like the Laughing Scene usually succeed in making me laugh.
So there you have it. Hope you enjoyed reading the list, and thanks to all who contributed to the topic! Until next time…!
2. Final Fantasy VIII
As I mentioned before, I loved Final Fantasy VII to death when I played it, so when it was announced that there would be a Final Fantasy VIII, I was mildly disappointed that it wasn’t going to be another story starring Cloud and company (Keep in mind, I didn’t understand how the series worked at this time, and for some reason, it didn’t occur to me that the previous six games must not have involved Cloud). But the more I learned about it, the more I was fine with FFVIII going in a different direction. I played the mess out of the FFVIII demo that came with Brave Fencer Musashi (to the point where I dread doing the Dollet SeeD Exam in FFVIII to this very day because I burned myself out on it). I think Final Fantasy VIII was the first game I ever pre-ordered (Still got the cloth map, the toy gunblade, and the Squall and Laguna cards that came as pre-order bonuses to this day!). I was hyped as can be for this game.
Anyway, 9/9/99 finally came (Forget Dreamcast Day; this is FFVIII Day!), and I got the game. I have never sat through and tore through a game the way I played Final Fantasy VIII. This game hooked me from the opening FMV. That first weekend from the time I got home from school on Friday until I went back to school on Monday, if I wasn’t sleeping or eating, I was playing Final Fantasy VIII. No exaggeration whatsoever. I was totally immersed in this game. I made it to the end of disc 3 in that amount of time, and I’m not a speed runner when it comes to gaming. I took my time and soaked it all in along the way. I didn’t beat the game for a little while after that. When I got to that point, I did some sidequests and stuff because I was having a hard time with some of the bosses (Okay, I didn’t really understand how to break the Junction System yet, give me a break!), so I didn’t beat the game until several days later. And once I did beat it, I was so determined not to let the story end that I took up fanfiction writing to continue the story on my own, a 208 page handwritten tale that took me about a year and a half to write (which is still in my closet somewhere, I think, but I’m too afraid to ever read it again for fear of how bad it is).
I say all that and divulge probably a bit too much about myself to say this: No game ever hooked me so quickly and thoroughly or held me for as long as Final Fantasy VIII did. It was truly a unique experience for me, something no game has matched before or since, and probably never will again. I’ll always remember what that was like, and that’s why FFVIII will probably always rank as highly with me as it does. And as weird as this is going to sound, probably part of why I love the cast and the world as much as I do was because I spent so much time invested in writing that fanfiction story. I honestly replayed the game several times to “study” the characters so I could get their speech habits and personalities down right. I felt like I got to know them better, who they were, why they did what they did, and how they interacted with one another as friends. I’ll never pull the “YOU JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND THEM LIKE I DO” argument when it comes to FFVIII’s characters, but…yeah. That’s also one of the things I loved about FFVIII’s main cast: They may not have been deep or well developed as individuals, but they were great as a unit. Outstanding chemistry and interaction with each other. I love ‘em all, even Selphie, who I maintain is much more enjoyable as a character if you simply maintain that she’s a mentally insane pyromaniac.
But really, Final Fantasy VIII is the Squall Leonhart show. Like Yuri Hyuga carries the first two Shadow Hearts games, Squall carries this game. I don’t know if I could ever do a writeup that would do him justice and adequately explain how much I like him. But Squall and Final Fantasy VIII were made for each other. FFVIII wouldn’t have been the same without him, and Squall wouldn’t have been the same as part of any other game in any other role. This is his story to the point where the resolution of Squall’s inner conflict is given greater weight and priority than the resolution of the outer conflict of stopping Ultimecia and Time Compression.
I think the main thing I love about Squall and Final Fantasy VIII is being able to get inside his head the entire game. It was awesome feeling like I had a personal invitation into his mind, to see how he really felt, what he really thought, who he really was. In fact, I really enjoy it when other games do this (Another one of the things I love about the Ace Attorney games, actually). I loved being privy to information that the other characters didn’t have, and I thought it made the gaming experience more enjoyable, watching them struggle to understand him on the outside and sometimes reach wrong conclusions about him because they didn’t have all the facts while I felt like I could understand him. Watching Squall slowly develop and open up over the course of the game was a real treat.
Final Fantasy VIII has fantastic presentation and direction as well. This is one of the areas where it excels, I think. It creates a beautiful and wonderful atmosphere for the game that just hooked me in and refused to let me go. I do enjoy playing the game, too, actually! The Junction System is just fun to break. The game can be as easy or as hard as you want it to be, really. It’s kind of nice. Loves me some Triple Triad, too. Best mini-game in FF history. Lionheart best weapon ever and best Limit Break ever.
Anyway, weird writeup, but I felt like going this direction and just talking out of personal experience more than anything was the way to go just so you could understand why Final Fantasy VIII is special to me, even if it’s not to you.
Ah, my top three. It’d take something really, really, REALLY special to dethrone this triumvirate. While some things have come close, they haven’t quite managed the staying power to pull it off. Anyway, like with the Phoenix Wright games, I got into the MGS series at the perfect time. Like I said, I picked up the original MGS as a result of Frog/Liquid Snake in 2004. As a result, after I beat MGS1 and MGS2, I didn’t have to wait very long at all for the release of MGS3, which came out in November of that year. I knew all the details about how it was a prequel set during the Cold War where you control Big Boss and all that. I had seen some of the preview trailers, so I was excited for this bad boy.
And it certainly didn’t disappoint me. Big Boss is an incredible character, probably my favorite character outside of my longstanding top two of Squall and Tidus. It’s amazing to see some of the stuff he goes through and endures—physically, mentally, and emotionally—and yet he gets back up on his feet and perseveres, seeing his mission through to the very end to prove himself a loyal soldier in the face of all obstacles. He doesn’t let anything stop him from doing what he knows he has to do. And that’s what makes the ending all the more bittersweet once you know the truth. I can’t help but feel sorry for Big Boss, especially knowing what comes afterward, and it definitely gives you a great insight into why he became what he eventually became. It’s that bittersweet feeling of knowing the fall from grace that’s to come and what might have been if things had been a little different that puts Big Boss ahead of Solid Snake to me.
Yeah, I know this isn’t a writeup about Big Boss, but I can’t explain why I love MGS3 so much without talking about the guy. I love The Boss, too, but Naked Snake is what makes it so great to me. I love the story here. While it’s certainly not as deep or pseudo-philosophical as MGS2 is, it’s just captivating and compelling storytelling. Honestly, MGS3 might have one of the greatest second halves of a game ever. Nearly everything from the fight with The End to, uhh…the end is flat out amazing. If it weren’t for that awful escort mission right before the last boss, I might consider it the best final stretch in any game ever. The game just hits a climax and maintains it for hours on end. I’ve rarely seen anything like it.
The gameplay is fun, too, especially once you realize that you don’t have to have maximum Camo Index and you stop opening the menu every 30 seconds. CQC is awesome fun, nothing beats the CQC slam. The cool thing is that starting with MGS3, even if you activated an alert, you didn’t get an endless supply of backup troops. You could seriously go Rambo and clear out an area, if you so desired. Another fun thing to do is blow up ammo and food storage buildings to weaken them and make picking them apart easier. There are all sorts of ways to torture your enemies, too, due to the wide variety of weapons, gadgets, and tricks, and it’s awesome (though you’d better be prepared to pay for it when you face The Sorrow). I especially love the mountain areas right after you fight The End. I could hang out there for hours and just mess with enemies in all sorts of twisted ways. I can understand Volgin a little bit after playing this game.
Speaking of which, I love MGS3’s cast, especially the radio team. Best team in the series right there. Seriously, there have been times when I’ve literally spent an hour doing nothing but talking to the crew on the radio listening to the awesome conversations Naked Snake has with them. They really went all out with it. I love the villains and the boss fights in this game, too. Volgin’s one of those guys I just love to hate, and Ocelot’s awesome in this one. I actually like the Cobra Unit. I didn’t really mind that they weren’t developed or had a deep backstory that they revealed after you killed them. The End, The Fury, and The Sorrow were awesome bosses, so who cares. Dare I say it? But character development is seriously an overrated factor when it comes to likeability or the “goodness” of a character (however the heck you define it). Some people act like a character must automatically suck if he isn’t deep or well developed, but I think that’s stupid. Yeah, character development is an awesome bonus if it’s done right, but I like tons of characters who don’t really fall into that category. I’m sure someone will ridicule me for saying that, but I got past the “Don’t speak the minority opinion so people won’t make fun of you” phase a while ago! I used to go along with it, and so I’d write five post writeups about Ryu from Street Fighter or whatever, trying to defend him and whatnot. Now I don’t really see the need to bother with that anymore. I just say why I like something and leave it at that. You’re free to disagree if you wish! These writeups aren’t meant to be persuasive arguments, just statements of my opinions!
Anyway, that was quite a rabbit trail there. MGS3, great game, best game in one of the best series. Need to get me a PSP sometime soon so I can play Peace Walker and get my Big Boss fill.
I’ve said before that I think 3-D platforming in general is better than 2-D platforming, or at least the potential is there for it to be. 2-D platforming has a longer history and a greater repertoire because 3-D platforming isn’t really a widespread genre, for whatever the reason, but the maximum potential for 3-D is greater. You can see it with the two Mario Galaxy games. These games are as close to “perfect” as platforming has ever gotten. The worlds are beautifully designed and the presentation and atmosphere are top notch. The level design and the variety is amazing. The control scheme is great, since the motion controls are used in moderation and in no way hinder the experience. In fact, I’d say it’s better with motion controls because they’re used in such a simple manner.
It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with Mario Galaxy. Platforming has never felt so good. It feels great just to fly through the air. They took what was good and bad from the previous two 3-D Mario games and brought it together here. People say the game is linear, but I couldn’t tell. Each star usually has you doing something different and exploring a different part of the galaxy, so you never feel like you’re doing the same thing over and over again. They also kept the galaxies to a good size so it doesn’t take forever just to collect a single star.
The Mario Galaxy games might have the greatest soundtracks of any game. They’re beautifully composed and fit with the worlds. They probably have the highest percentage of “Songs I would listen to outside of the game” of any other game I know. There’s nothing like blasting out of the volcano in Melty Molten Galaxy with that epic theme blaring in the background. The Bowser levels (especially the last one) have wonderful themes that add to the atmosphere, and it makes the last boss fight one of my favorites in gaming.
But when I got done with Mario Galaxy, I felt…unfulfilled. Not that the game wasn’t fantastic, but it wasn’t enough. It felt like there was so much more they could do with it, like they’d barely skimmed the surface of its potential. So when they announced that they were making a Super Mario Galaxy 2, I was absolutely thrilled. Did I care that it was basically the same game with new levels, a few new power-ups, and Yoshi? No way. Heck, deep down, part of me WANTED that.
I mean, I can’t be the only person who’s gotten to the end of the game and thought, “Man, I just want more of THAT. Not a reworked sequel, just more of the same.” When I finished FFX, I just wanted to keep playing THAT GAME, not whatever the heck FFX-2 turned out to be. And that’s what Galaxy 2 is. They just take what Galaxy 1 started and give you more of the same, and I love Nintendo for it. They made some improvements to the overall scheme, but the framework and the foundation is the same. They took what they learned from Galaxy 1, and they improved the level design, the platforming, and filled it with some fanservice goodies, too. Some people criticize gaming companies for putting out another game that’s not much different from the one before it, but sometimes that’s just what I need!
See now, THIS is what a 2-D platformer should be like (although if DKCR is as good as KoolAid’s hyping it up to be, I may have to revise this statement). It doesn’t get much better than this. Donkey Kong Country 2 has a large variety in its stages, and the great thing is that there’s a good number of each kind of stage, so you can get your fill of whatever type you like best. It has just the right amount of collectibles with the Kremkoins from the bonus levels and the DK Hero Coins, many of which are located and positioned in such a way that it’s a satisfying challenge to figure out how to get some of them or where they are. I also liked it that the Banana Coins were nice and beneficial, but it was in no way essential to collect them all to complete the game. They were just used to do stuff with the other Kongs.
Diddy and Dixie are a perfect duo. I know some people miss having Donkey Kong around, but I think things feel a lot smoother with two lightweight speedy characters. Dixie’s air hair twirl is mad levels of broken and is practically necessary to get through certain areas of the game without taking a hit or get certain collectibles. I liked the partner team-up, being able to throw each other into enemies or to reach locations you couldn’t normally reach on your own. I always prefer to play as Diddy just because I like him better, but yeah, Dixie’s the better of the two in terms of gameplay.
One of the great things about DKC2 (and the DKC games in general) is that it’s built around perfect timing and speed runs. You can play the game at your own pace if you want, but the best way to enjoy this game is to try to go for the perfect run. If you know what you’re doing, you can play through a level without ever breaking stride. I’m not a perfectionist gamer, but DKC2 makes going for the perfect run fun because it’s challenging and yet attainable, very satisfying. It’s like you KNOW you can do it if you just keep working at it. There’s nothing like nailing that perfect run the first time. DKC2’s level design is impeccable, which is what puts it above the other games.
DKC2 also has some great Animal Buddies. Rambi is great as always, just running over things. Squawks has a lot of awesome and challenging levels, all about precision with this guy. Gotta love having Enguarde to make your life easier in the underwater levels. Rattly and Squitter are fun new Animal Buddies. I like jumping way up high with Rattly or using Squitter’s spider webs to dissect a level. They were all just fun to use.
I also love DKC2’s pirate theme. Can’t go wrong with that. The game also has a lot of awesome enemies. I love the boss fights, too. Kaptain K. Rool is another one of my favorite final boss fights. The fight is one big discernible pattern, so for me, it’s a big thrill ride to see if I can manage to get through the thing without taking a hit. Of course, you get a few breaks in there to recover a lost partner in case you get hit. Even though you may know the pattern, some of the parts are still tough. Then they made an awesome final confrontation in the Lost World where you have to survive a super long sequence of attacks from K. Rool before you can land the one and only hit necessary to win the fight. It was awesome. Great boss music for this one, and great music for the game in general. Platforming doesn’t get much better than this.
When I was a kid, I didn’t really “pick a side” in the SNES/Mario vs. Genesis/Sonic rivalry. I had both, and I loved both. I’m probably going to rub some people the wrong way by siding with this one over Mario 3 or World, but Sonic 3 & Knuckles is as good as it gets. I love this game. I enjoy being able to play the various paths depending on whether you’re playing as Sonic or Knuckles (LOL to you weirdos who play as Tails). That was one of the nice touches here, that things actually changed depending on which character you played the game as. In general, Knuckles’s path is tougher, but he also has more possibilities and variation in his play style with the gliding, climbing, and burrowing.
The level design is good and the accompanying soundtrack is excellent. Angel Island is a solid opening stage that breaks you into the game well, with plenty of opportunities to try out the new power-ups, the new bonus stages, and there are several giant rings to get some Chaos Emeralds. The Emerald stages are pretty fun, and it can get hectic as things speed up the longer it takes you to finish it. Hydrocity is one of the few games where a water level is fun. You can hit ridiculously high speeds in this zone, and it just feels good, especially the nice aesthetic touch of speeding across the surface of the water.
Marble Garden is probably one of the weaker zones, but I enjoyed the Sonic version of the Robotnik boss fight in this one. The controls are kind of bad, but the idea was cool all the same. Carnival Night has that infamous barrel and is probably the worst level in the game. It’s way too long and one of the only zones (other than Sandopolis) where I run in danger of reaching the 10 minute time limit. Ice Cap has some awesome style, and there are some good platforming segments in this one. I liked the Launch Base Zone. It had a good level design, lots of cool segments, and a couple of strong boss fights at the end.
But it’s the Sonic & Knuckles levels that carry the game, really. The quality really takes a step up here. Mushroom Hill is a fun level. I really like the environment here. Flying Battery might be my favorite zone in the game. I love the music here, and the design of zooming around a flying battleship is amazing. It’s just so much fun, and there are a lot of cool high speed and platforming segments. Sandopolis is…well, it’s Sandopolis, but man, the atmosphere here is creepy. Those ghosts are scary as all get out, man. I’m obsessively pulling those light switches to keep them away. Lava Reef is an excellent lava zone with some good platforming segments. Sky Sanctuary might be the perfect 2-D platforming level. It’s the perfect length, with the right amount of difficulty, speed, platforming, good jumps. It’s got a great design and theme. Death Egg is a very fitting last boss area. That place is just crazy with all the gravity-related areas, and I love the last boss sequence here, going on into Doomsday, which is one of my favorite final battles ever. Outstanding atmosphere for that one, really feels like an epic final battle with a fitting song.
One of the great things about Sonic 3 & Knuckles is that it’s the perfect length for replaying. It’s just fun to sit down and breeze through the game. The platforming is better than people give it credit for. It’s not just about speed, although the high speed segments are lots of fun. I like having alternate routes through levels. It helps to keep things fresh. Playing this game makes it all the more frustrating that Sega hasn’t managed to recapture this magic until Sonic Colors (from what I hear anyway, still need to play it!).
My hopes were very high for this game, and they were not disappointed. I was somewhat let down by Tools of Destruction. While it was fun, it didn’t live up to the standard the original PS2 trilogy had set, but everything indicated that A Crack in Time would be a return to glory. The weapons looked better than ever, the graphics were amazingly beautiful, the storyline actually looked interesting, and most importantly, Dr. Nefarious was back! Seriously, dude’s awesome and better than ever! Behold!
Crack in Time spoilers in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcmSCf2uYMw
Anyway, if you’ve played a Ratchet & Clank game before, you know what to expect, but trust me when I say it’s better than ever in almost every way. The environments are seriously gorgeous and the attention to detail is amazing. It’s one of the best-looking games I’ve ever played. It’s almost like playing a game set in a Pixar movie. Nearly everything in a stage is destroy-able if you feel so inclined. The missions are fun, and there’s always plenty to do in each world, some mandatory and some optional. The weapons are good with a solid variety, and there are a good number of fun gadgets and accessories at your disposal. There are also some excellent boss fights this time around, especially the stretch of final bosses at the end of the game.
There are two things that, in my opinion, set A Crack in Time above the other games in the series. The first thing is the Clank puzzles. Those things are seriously brilliant and lots of fun to solve. I took a lot of satisfaction in being able to solve all of them without ever having to look up a solution. It’s seriously a lot of fun trying to figure them out, and it’s challenging without ever getting frustrating. I think the thing that keeps it from frustrating is that it’s easy to restart if you realize you’ve messed up, and there’s no punishment for getting it wrong. They also gradually get more complex as the game goes along, as you’d expect. Clank is my favorite character in the series, so seeing the segments where you get to control him be one of the highlights of the game was a major bonus to me.
Secondly and surprisingly, A Crack in Time’s story is good. The PS2 games never really focused on having a serious plot. They had one, but the cutscenes were mostly just comic relief with the occasional serious moment thrown in. It was just there mostly to move the game forward and give a sense of cohesion. It was peripheral. Starting with Tools of Destruction, they started going in the opposite direction. The Ratchet & Clank Future games still have a good deal of humor, but they started focusing on having a serious plotline, mostly dealing with the lost race of Lombaxes, of which Ratchet is one of the few remaining in the universe. The end of the game was surprisingly touching (“I wouldn’t risk any more than six minutes”).
Oh, and make sure you buy Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One when it comes out this year so we can have some 4-player online mayhem! I know me, KoolAid, and Wigs are gonna be in on it, so join us! It’s gonna be awesome!
Yes, I’m cheating by combining these three entries together, but it works. It took me a while to decide to try these games out, but I suppose it worked out fine because I was basically able to play all of these games straight through once I did since they were all already released here. I love these games. The writing is excellent. I find myself laughing out loud while playing these games all the time. The character development is outstanding for the main characters, and character interaction (particularly between Phoenix, Edgeworth, Maya, Gumshoe, and the Judge) is top notch. There are a lot of fun and interesting side characters as well. There are a lot of fun little touches that make the cases more enjoyable, like examining certain items during investigations or presenting certain pieces of evidence to people and getting a funny side conversation out of the deal. I always try to examine everything and present everything I can during investigations.
But when it comes down to it, Ace Attorney games are all about the trials, man. It’s very easy to get hooked and find yourself unable to put the game down if you get into the middle of a high pressure trial, especially in one of the epic cases. It’s fun cross-examining witnesses, pressing them for details, and trying to figure out the contradictions in the testimony. More often than not, it’s not that difficult, but when you finally figure out a tough one, it’s a great feeling. Phoenix Wright is one of my favorite characters ever because he’s a guy whose back is seemingly always against the wall, but he never gives up, even when other people would’ve quit long ago. Many times, he makes a leap in blind faith, but somehow he manages to make it through to the end. I just love that about Phoenix. He’s not afraid to take a risk, and he always gives it his all, no matter what. He holds nothing back to find the truth, and he doesn’t do it for himself. He does it because he believes in his clients and he cares about them.
As for the games individually, the original game has a certain charm about it that the other games don’t. I can’t quite explain it. Maybe it’s just the charm of immersing yourself into an entirely different world and getting to know the people involved. The first couple of cases are just warm-ups to get you acquainted with everything, but 1-3 was what originally got me hooked, specifically the huge twist at the end of the second trial day (You know what I’m talking about). I was totally floored by how crazy and awesome it was at that point, and it only got better. 1-4 was just an epic thrill ride from start to finish with the most fearsome opponent imaginable and got you emotionally invested because of the client. 1-5 was just plain crazy and featured one of the best criminals in the series.
Justice for All is the weak link in the series, and I can see why. Heck, if it didn’t include the best case in the series, I might have considered dropping it from the conversation. Still, Phoenix is even better than ever here, and he has some of his best moments in the series in this game, so I can excuse it. 2-4 is just flat out amazing. People talk about predictable plot twists or whatever, but I still got floored by the hair flip, mostly because I was like Phoenix and kept wanting to believe to the very bitter end. Plus, I generally don’t try to figure out plot twists and stuff in advance. I usually just let things come to me, and I like it better that way.
Trials & Tribulations is probably the highest quality game in the series. All of the cases are solid, with some great side characters and awesome villains. Plus, this is the first time that all the cases are essentially part of one big story arc. Yeah, in the other games, the cases added things up and made references to past events and whatnot, but they were basically standalone cases (Not that the cases in T&T can’t stand on their own, but you know what I mean). All the cases are connected to each other in some way and develop the plot. It was nice, and it resulted in a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. If only Capcom knew how to leave well enough alone…
And since no Ace Attorney discussion is complete without an inequality:
2-4 > 1-4 > 3-5 > 1-5 > 3-4 > 3-2 > 1-3 > 2-2 > 3-3 > 1-2 > 3-1 > 2-3 > 2-1 > 1-1
I’m not even sure what made me decide to pick up Skies of Arcadia Legends in the first place. I don’t think Board 8 had started hyping it yet. Actually, I think my cousin mentioned to me that he had heard good things about it and was thinking about getting it. I decided to check it out and thought it looked interesting, so I picked it up. Boy, am I glad I did that because I got one of my favorite RPG adventures ever out of it!
Skies of Arcadia has “charm” written all over it. The storyline is a simple adventure and save the world tale. There are no major plot twists to speak of except for maybe one, but it doesn’t need them. None of the characters are particularly deep. They fit into pretty basic archetypes, but they’re charming and likeable (or hateable, depending on who you’re talking about). Vyse is one of my favorite characters with his “Nothing is impossible” mantra and eternal optimism, no matter what the circumstances. “Come on, everybody! Let’s make history!” I can rally around a leader like that! Skies of Arcadia showed that you didn’t need a convoluted plot or complex characters to create an enjoyable RPG experience. Sometimes simple is best.
But I think what really makes Skies of Arcadia great is its world. One of the major themes of the game is “Adventure,” and it certainly delivers on that point. Exploring the world just feels great, one of the best world maps in any game out there. One of the things that makes it feel more “adventurous” is the fact that there are various “Discoveries” that you can find and report to a handsome sum if you’re quick enough. It’s a big “Aw yeah son” moment when you notice your compass start to spin, indicating that a Discovery is nearby. The various worlds that you can go to are awesome. They’re well designed and beautiful, with a fitting theme to accompany each one, whether you’re talking about the lush forests of Ixa’taka, the oriental stylings of Yafutoma, the arid deserts of Nasrad, or the stormy mountains of Valua. It really feels like you’re exploring the world, and it just felt good.
One of the drawbacks to Skies of Arcadia is the battle system. The random encounter rate is high (although thankfully, there is a White Map item you can find early on in Legends that drastically reduces it) and battles can be slow and arduous until you get skills that attack all enemies. Once you get Lambda Burst and Rain of Swords though, random encounters go a lot faster. I do love the special skills and their accompanying sound bytes though. I find myself mimicking them as I watch them. “Behold…” I love the ship battles in Skies of Arcadia, too. They usually have a great atmosphere to them, especially when you’re fighting one of the members of the Valuan Armada (which is one of the best sets of villains in a video game, by the way) or one of the Gigas. It feels good to win a battle with your back against the wall with the Little Jack, and it also feels good to blow your enemies away with the Moonstone Cannon in the Delphinus.
Skies of Arcadia had a lot of little touches that added to the experience, too. I liked the Swashbuckler rating and watching it improve as you made right decisions throughout the game. I liked being able to recruit Crew Members to help you on the Delphinus. I really enjoyed the Bounty Marks they added to Legends. They made for some really fun boss fights. It just does so many little things well to make the game even more fun.
Man, the top ten is hard for me to organize. The top 3 are pretty clearly ahead of the rest to me, but 4-10 could be pretty interchangeable depending on the day. Even though Mario 3 comes right after Mario World in this list, it’s still the clear favorite in my mind between the two, although they’re both great. There have been rare times when I’ve leaned toward World, but 99% of the time, I favor Mario 3. It’s another one of those games where I can see why people would consider it the best game ever, even if I don’t. I liked the wider variety in power-ups. Even though it didn’t have Yoshi, I liked the Tanooki suit, the Hammer Bros. suit, and even the Frog Suit at times. Gotta love the P-Wing, too, man, and of course, Kuribo’s Shoe. I also liked having Warp Whistles so you could zip to the end of the game, if you felt so inclined. I usually enjoyed trying to beat all of the levels though, even the ones I didn’t have to beat in order to reach the castle. I just enjoy playing the game. Wish you could replay levels after you beat them though.
I really like the different themes of each world, and it made them feel very distinct. This is one of the things I like about Mario 3 over Mario World. It feels like there’s more variety. I tend to think Mario 3 has better level design, but you really can’t go wrong with either one. It definitely provides a better challenge. I love Giant Land though, gotta be one of my favorite areas in a game right there.
Although I think the main area where Mario 3 kills Mario World is in atmosphere, especially when it comes to boss levels. The fortresses and the airships are fantastic. I always love those places. They’re legitimately hard, tense, and well designed. And holy crap, I remember getting to World 8 for the first time. Seriously, I used to fear reaching World 8 because I knew I would probably lose all my lives and have to start over. It was that hard to me as a kid. I remember trying to cross that bridge where the hand randomly grabs you and hoping with all my heart that I could make it across without getting grabbed too much. I look forward to the last world now because it’s awesome and legitimately challenging, but as a kid…Yikes. Too bad they made a terrible Bowser fight to finish it all off though. Good thing Sunshine exists or this would be the worst final boss in the series.
Super Mario World is a classic platformer. It’s hard to top what it brings to the table. It has some great level designs and a good atmosphere (Boo Houses are legitimately creepy, partly because of the music). Of course, it has the cape and Yoshi, two of the greatest power-ups of all time. They are crazy levels of broken, but man, they’re so fun that I don’t even care. Blue Yoshi is the best. Nothing beats being able to fly any time you have a shell in your mouth, spit out fireballs, and ground pound when you land. I wish there were more power-ups to choose from other than those and the Fire Flower though. Mario World does suffer from being a bit too easy. Unless you’re in a fortress, a castle, or the Special Road, the game’s not very hard, and even some of those aren’t that hard.
Dinosaur Land is a pretty classic and memorable setting. I think the levels could have used a bit more variety, but the game still manages to be a lot of fun because the design is good. The controls feel good, jumping feels good. Nothing really feels cumbersome. It just feels good to breeze through each level. I like having secret exits in a lot of the levels and different ways of tackling a level. One of the nice things is that you can replay levels to your heart’s content, perhaps one of the biggest advantages Mario World has over Mario 3. It’s nice to be able to go back over and over again to try to figure out a level’s secrets.
I do enjoy me some Valley of Bowser though. It’s a great final area, and I love the final boss fight. Sure, it’s not so hard now, but when you’re five years old, trying to beat Bowser at the end can get pretty crazy. I still remember that feeling, especially when I finally beat him. It’s been a long time since I’ve played Mario World, now that I think about it. I ought to give it a replay, for old time’s sake.
This game really should’ve been subtitled “The Yuri Hyuga Owns Everyone’s Face Show” because that’s what it is, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Shadow Hearts: Covenant is a major improvement over the first game in most areas, although I’d argue the first game had a better atmosphere and probably a better overall story. This one abandons the dark, edgy feel of the first game for a more lighthearted mood. Not that SH2 doesn’t have its dark moments, but there’s nothing like a village of the cannibals in this one. This time around, you trade Sea Mama for THE MAN FESTIVAL, and I’m not sure who comes out on top with this one.
One of the biggest improvements in Shadow Hearts: Covenant is the battle system. It blows the first game’s battle system out of the water. The first game isn’t much different from your typical JRPG fare except for the Judgment Ring, but this one takes the Judgment Ring (and his wife and daughter) and expands upon it in a big way. Plus, your party size increases from 3 to 4, which is always nice. Yuri gets a boatload of different Fusion monsters to choose from this time, lots more than he had in the first game. Plus, you can switch between Fusion monsters very easily as you see fit, something you couldn’t do in the first game. One of the things that makes the battle system a blast this time around is being able to do group combos with your party members. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as tearing a boss apart with a big four-person combo.
The battle system may be a little too good, however. The game is, for the most part, ridiculously easy, mostly because of how inherently overpowered the battle system is, especially in boss battles, where it usually becomes four-on-one (sometimes two) and you can combo away on the poor sap(s). But who cares, it’s fun. There are a lot of awesome moves to choose from. Also, “Hardcore to the Brain” might be the most intense, energy-pumping boss theme I’ve ever heard. I literally can’t stay seated while it’s playing, and it totally gets me into the fight.
Like the first game, the first half of the game starts off kind of slow, but the second half of the game is a huge roller coaster ride that hooks you all the way to the very end. The cast is a lot better this time around, in my opinion, although really, they’re about as insignificant in this game as they are in the first game, aside from Yuri and Karin. They’re a lot more fun this time around though because they actually interact with one another. Joachim, Anastasia, and Blanca are awesome. But once again, it’s all about Yuri anyway. The dude totally carries the game with tons of awesome moments and quotes from start to finish. I don’t know how you can’t love this guy to death after playing Shadow Hearts. I love how he and the party trash talk bosses right before the battle to tick them off (especially when they’re trying to figure out where the baby head dude got his floating pillow, that was awesome). More games should have that. They totally ruined Albert Simon in this game though. What the heck, man? Speaking of which, there weren’t really any good villains in this game. Nicolai is a total pansy. Rasputin’s fine, I guess, but he’s nothing special. They kinda dropped the ball here, especially after how awesome Albert Simon was in the first game.
Oh, and the dungeons are, for the most part, awful. Hello there, Battleship Mikasa
13. Mario Kart 64
It’s kind of weird that these last three games were all in the same first round match in the 2009 Games Contest: http://www.gamefaqs.com/poll/index.html?poll=3459
It was a tough vote! Anyway, if I was able to make a list of games based on how much time I’ve put into them, Mario Kart 64 would be in the top 5 for sure. Just about every time friends came over, this game was played. It was just loads of fun to play, whether you wanted to do some straight up racing or you just wanted to battle. This is one of those games where it’s totally acceptable to be a jerk to everyone you’re playing with and nobody really gets upset, for some reason. We would always try to use the Lightning Bolt on Wario Stadium right before the big jump so they’d fall into the pit and things like that, but nobody ever got mad about it. That was just how we rolled!
Anyway, Mario Kart 64 was just so easily accessible. Anyone could just hop right into this game and have a good time, and it could get really competitive in any game mode we played. We would spend hours going head-to-head in races to see who could get the best overall record, or we would just do battle mode for hours on end. It was fun trying to hit each other with shells, banana peels, and fake items, or just going crazy whenever someone got a Star and was trying to blow you away. We had a lot of good times and a lot of laughs playing this one.
To me, what made Mario Kart 64 so great was that every single course was fun. We had our favorites, of course (Wario Stadium and Bowser’s Castle for the win!), but there were no courses that we didn’t want to play on. They were well designed and, for the most part, a good length for a competitive race. Yeah, the Rainbow Road is way too long for its own good and had rails, but hey, that’s the exception rather than the rule and even then I still enjoy it. All the battle courses were fun and could be played in their own style. Even though there were only four of them, it felt like enough somehow.
Plus, the item balance was just right. There was a good variety of items to choose from. There weren’t any game-breaking, overpowered abusable blue shells yet. The blue shell was very rare, and (most importantly) the computer never got it. It was a legitimate “Holy crap holy crap holy crap it’s coming slow down and let someone pass me!” rather than the “Ughhhhhh, not AGAIN!” it would become in each game after this. Even if you lost a race because you got hit with a shell right before the finish line, you never felt like you got cheated or the game was being too cheap (except for the rubber band AI, I guess, but that never bothered me).
Plus, Toad’s Turnpike Mirror Mode, aw yeah
Final Fantasy VII is quite possibly the greatest game ever made. Seriously, it says so on the back of the case! Although it’s not my personal favorite game, I certainly couldn’t argue against anyone who said it was the best game ever because I can definitely see why people think so. It was my favorite game for a long time. I had been playing games my whole life, but I had never played anything like FFVII before in my life in terms of presentation, story, atmosphere, characters, etc. I’m sure some people think that’s silly, laughable, or whatever, but this is just my personal experience I’m speaking from here. I suppose it’s kind of like how some people feel about games like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VI, or Ocarina of Time. That’s how I feel about FFVII, even if it’s not my favorite game. It still holds a special place in my heart for personal reasons.
Now I know what some people are going to say: “Final Fantasy VII was great back then, but it’s unplayable and dated now! It’s just the nostalgia talking!” In this case, I must respectfully disagree. I actually played FFVII not too long ago, and in my opinion, it’s held up just fine. To be honest, FFVII-FFX are games that I can (and pretty much have) play endlessly and never really get bored with them. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve played FFVII. I used to have save files on my Memory Card right before my favorite scenes so I could play them whenever I wanted to (Same with FFVIII, IX, and X). The story and the cast are still great. I still love Limit Breaks and the Materia system. The game’s pacing is excellent, in my opinion. While Sephiroth isn’t my favorite villain by any means, I understand why he’s held in such high regard and why so many other games have tried to copy what made him so popular. Sephiroth has a sense of “presence” that no other villain I’ve seen has ever come close to approaching. The constant pursuit after Sephiroth keeps you riveted and wondering what’s going to happen next. There are so many memorable moments throughout the game, including the famous Aerith spoiler.
To me, Cloud is a fantastic and compelling protagonist. I’ve written at length about the guy in the past, but I can’t understand how people say the guy’s one-dimensional and not relatable at all because I relate to the guy quite a bit. For the most part, I think the main cast is great, Yuffie and Cait Sith being the exceptions, of course. I love Rufus and the Turks. I love the WEAPONs, some of my favorite monsters in a game. I love FFVII’s world, too. Midgar is one of my favorite locations in any game. I was kind of disappointed the first time I had to leave there, but there were some other good locations out there, too, so it worked out! I love the plotline with Meteor, trying to stop that thing from destroying the world. I enjoy the Materia system, testing out different combos and gradually upgrading to bigger and better spells. I love the Enemy Skills Materia, so much goodness in one material (and you can find four of them, to boot!). Do I care that the only thing that really distinguishes the characters is Limit Breaks? Not really. That kind of stuff has never really bothered me.
I could rant and rave about FFVII at length, but I’m trying to keep these things to one post apiece, so I’ll have to cut it short! Suffice it to say, I love this game, and it definitely deserves to be considered in the all-time greats discussion. It belongs there.
15. Star Fox 64
Star Fox 64 is a fantastic game that I got hyped for because of that weird promotional video Nintendo Power sent out (Who else had that thing?) and THE RUMBLE PACK. Rumble/Vibration in games is a weird thing that I don’t think really contributes anything to the gaming experience for the most part, but Star Fox 64 did a great job with it because that thing went way over the top whenever you blew up the boss or whatever at the end of a level. The rumbling was off the charts with that thing. It felt good to beat a level because you got a free massage as a reward.
Anyway, Star Fox 64 is one of the most replayable games I’ve ever seen: The various paths through the game, the different ways to beat certain levels, trying to medal all the levels, and then you get an Expert Mode to do it all over again. Normally, I’m not a big completionist when it comes to games, but Star Fox 64 is one of the exceptions because it was fun, the challenge level was good, there was such a great sense of satisfaction in getting it done, and it was attainable without putting in a ridiculous number of hours. Plus, it didn’t require a bunch of boring grinding. You could do all of this stuff while you play, and the game was a blast. I remember the first time I opened the second route to Venom, the first time I successfully managed to shoot out all the spotlights in Zoness, the first time I flipped all the switches in Macbeth, the first time I managed to get the medal in Sector Z, things like that. Those things stick with you because there’s a sense of accomplishment and it provides a good challenge, at least to me.
Of course, Star Fox 64 has a great deal of charm with its characters, its memorable quotes, and its voice acting. If I asked people to roll off a list of Star Fox 64 quotes, we could get a bunch of them without much effort. They stick with you, for whatever the reason. The level design is fantastic as well, with a large number of memorable levels: Katina, Zoness, Macbeth, Venom, Corneria, Sectors X, Y, and Z, and my personal favorite, Area 6, which is one of the best levels in any game. Area 6 is just action-packed from start to finish and really feels like an epic space battle, the last line of defense before you reach the big boss. I just love it. Then Venom builds on it with a great final battle with Star Wolf and Andross, and the grand escape. A fitting end to a fantastic game.
Yeah, I’m cheating on this one by combining all three games into one entry despite them all being pretty distinct from one another, but whatever. Street Fighter Alpha was my fighting series of choice for about a decade (from the release of the original until SFIV came out), so I have a lot of fond memories tied up in this one. I know SFIV as a fighter is technically better, but again, nostalgia boost.
Plus, Street Fighter Alpha managed to do one thing that no other fighting game has ever done (and I know this is going to sound weird to some people): It got me to care about the story. Yes, I know you don’t play fighting games for the story, but it’s a nice bonus if the game actually makes you care about it. I loved the rival concept in the SFA series. One of the big things I disliked about Alpha 3 was how everyone’s final boss was Bison (except for Bison himself, who had Ryu, of course, and I think Evil Ryu had Shin Akuma or something). I liked each character having a certain rival for a last boss and having that cool little intro speech right before the fight (SFIII and SFIV totally botched trying to pull this off, by the way, argh, it just wasn’t the same), in addition to some of the characters having unique battle intros depending on who they were facing. I know Alpha 3 had some kind of rival stuff as mid-bosses and the fight right before Bison, and I know other fighting games have done this “rival” thing, but none of them had the same kind of charm the first two Alpha games had. Plus, they were the first fighting games I played that had it, so that probably boosts it in my eyes. In Alpha 2, there were things you could do to unlock a secret mid-boss rival battle (I forget what the requirements are now), but I went through the game with every character just so I could see what they were and what they said.
Of course, that’s not to say Alpha’s gameplay wasn’t fun. I enjoyed the Super Moves, and the characters were fun. There was a wide number of characters that I actually enjoyed using (Ryu, Guy, Charlie, Akuma, Chun-Li, Sakura, Adon, Sagat, Cammy, Cody, and more). I think Capcom did a great job of making these games accessible and having a good number of playable characters. It was easy to get into and easy to play. You don’t have to be good at fighting games to enjoy the Alpha games. There were some great stages to choose from, and the soundtrack was well done. I think Alpha 3 tried to be a bit too ambitious at times though. The different fighting styles (A-isms, X-isms, V-isms) was just way too much. It’s still a fun game to play, though I think Alpha 2 is the best game out of the three.
This is the only Tales game I’ve played. Legendia and Abyss didn’t look all that interesting to me, so I never played them, and while Vesperia piques my interest, it’s a 360 exclusive at present, so that does me no good. Anyway, I love Symphonia. The main selling point of it to me is the cast and the chemistry they have with each other. That’s one thing that nearly all of my favorite RPGs have in common: They have great casts, not necessarily as individuals, but collectively. They just work well together. While on their own, Colette and Genis suck, when you put them together with some of the other members of the cast, they can provide some good moments. They just work well together. That’s one of the things I love about the Skits. They’re just an excellent touch to the game that brings the cast together and provides some good comic relief.
That’s not to say that’s all Symphonia has going for it. The battle system is a lot of fun. I like having the real time battles, slashing stuff to bits with Lloyd (the guy to play as to maximize fun in this system, by the way, although I do play as Presea from time to time). I love the little sound bytes (LIGHTNING BL—SUPER LIGHTNING BLADE) and the fight that you’re constantly involved makes it fun. I also liked having some of those combos between party members, too. Felt like a throwback to Techs in Chrono Trigger. It was cool.
Although Symphonia’s story wasn’t really anything groundbreaking or deep, I still enjoyed it. I like save-the-world tales anyway, so it’s all good. Like I said, just watching the characters go through this thing together and watching them grow and develop together was enjoyable. One of the big things I enjoyed was the Affection System, and how it actually made a noticeable difference in some of the scenes in the game. More games need to implement this thing and made good use of it. It’s also fun being a jerk to Colette and getting rewarded for it! I enjoyed trying to get the various Flanoir scenes. The game also had a good soundtrack that set the mood well in a lot of the scenes, and there were some great battle themes as well.
Of course, Tales of Symphonia isn’t perfect. The game gets off to a slow start. Things don’t really pick up until you get to the Tower of Salvation the first time. Once you hit Tethe’alla, the game gets awesome though. The game gets really good toward the end, so I can appreciate games that finish well. The story’s a bit predictable, but it’s not really that big of a deal, I guess. Symphonia’s also one of those weird games where the villain’s ideology sounds more reasonable and sensible than the protagonist’s. Some of the dungeons are a disaster. There are a couple of dungeons where it’s easy to get stuck and bogged down for who knows how long, or at least that was what happened to me. And even when that’s not the case, some of them are just blah anyway. The game is pretty long, too. I generally prefer my RPGs on the short side, but hey, there are always exceptions, right?
Oh, and since no Tales of Symphonia discussion is complete without a character inequality:
Presea > Kratos > Zelos > Lloyd > Sheena > Raine > Regal > Genis > Colette
18. Mega Man X
For the record, I’ve only played the SNES MMX games, so although I’ve heard some good things about some of the PS MMX games, I haven’t played them. I’ve played all the Mega Man Classic games except for 9 and 10. Out of all of those, this is really the only Mega Man game of any kind that I’ve found myself coming back to and playing several times. The level design is great, the soundtrack is excellent, and the Mavericks are memorable and provide some good boss fights. This is probably the only Mega Man game besides the original MM1 where I can easily list off all the bosses in this game without hesitation, and probably the only one where I can remember what boss is weak against what weapon. Keep in mind, I’m not a HUGE Mega Man fan in the first place (although I did used to watch the cartoon back in the day!), so take that with a grain of salt. Plus, this is the game that introduced Zero, so that’s worth something!
One of the things I like more about the MMX series compared to Mega Man classic are the armor upgrades. I like being able to dash, climb walls (which is a default ability, I know, but still), having a beastly X-Buster, and things like that. Plus, being able to do the Hadouken is a nice bonus. Some people like the simplistic control scheme of Mega Man Classic, but I prefer MMX’s style because it makes level design more dynamic with the additional possibilities made available through these new abilities. That doesn’t mean they always capitalize on that potential, of course, but MMX captures a large part of it.
I enjoyed Mega Man X’s level design and the variety of each level. None of the levels feel the same. Yeah, they had their own unique theme, but the things you do in each level also felt different. It wasn’t just “more of the same” in each level. There was a good amount of challenge to them, and they had a fantastic soundtrack to accompany them (Spark Mandrill, Storm Eagle, and Boomer Kuwanger having the best tracks, for the record). The boss fights are good, and the game in general has a good atmosphere, especially whenever Zero’s around. His first and last scenes in the game are really awesome, and despite the fact that he’s really barely in the game at all apart from those two scenes, he managed to steal the show. You just wanted to be able to play as that guy. Vile was also a great side villain, much better than the boring Sigma, really. Classic game, this one.
I know a lot of people differ on whether the first game or the second game in the series is better, but I feel like the second game is better in nearly every way (except for the crappy version of the Coliseum in this game, what the heck was THAT?). Some people complain that they dumbed down the combat too much, but it didn’t really bother me. I didn’t even really notice, to be honest. I enjoyed the introduction of Reaction Commands. It’s all about style, baby! I enjoyed Sora’s Drives. It was always fun to just go into beast mode and wreck everything. And maybe it was just me, but Donald and Goofy’s AIs didn’t seem to be nearly as awful as they were in the first game. Perhaps I just learned how to adjust to it from the first game or something.
But really, the thing that puts KHII over the original, at least to me, was that this game made me care about the story and the original characters. Sora, Riku, and Kairi are MUCH better in this game than they were in the first. Roxas is the best character in the series (Yes, that’s right!). Squall is still the best FF character in the game and gets the most face time, so you can’t go wrong there! Organization XIII was an awesome set of villains that provided, for the most part, an awesome set of boss fights. I honestly thought the worlds were better in KHII than they were in the original as well. People complain about the linearity and how the game sometimes won’t let you go into certain areas in order to advance the plot, but I didn’t mind. The worlds were less boring, and it was overall a better selection. I liked going back over them the second time with some new things to do, too. The boss fights were usually top notch as well.
My favorite part of the game was definitely the Heartless invasion at Hollow Bastion. There was a great sense of tension throughout the whole thing with many awesome moments. Getting to fight alongside Squall, Cloud, and Tifa (and Yuffie, too, I guess, but whatever), even for a little bit, was awesome. You ended up getting an awesome boss fight against the best Organization XIII member (DANCE WATER DANCE), and then there’s the 1,000 Heartless battle, which isn’t as great as it could’ve been, but it’s still a nice atmosphere. It’s definitely an awesome stretch of gaming. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how awesome Timeless River and The World That Never Was are as well.
With no disrespect to Hyperstone Heist (which I also loved), this is my favorite Ninja Turtles game. I enjoyed the NES games (particularly Manhattan Project, the third one) and the Tournament Fighter games, too. As a little kid, me and my friends were Ninja Turtles fanatics. We watched the cartoon series every time it came on. We loved the movies (even the third one! Hey, as a kid, you’re usually not too picky!). I had tons and tons of TMNT toys. I remember getting a Technodrome for Christmas one year. It was awesome. I even had a football that was shaped like Raphael (Seriously. Here’s a picture of one: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3380/3247826113_27f3a3b98c.jpg?v=0).
Anyway, suffice it to say that me and my friends played the mess out of Turtles in Time. As I mentioned before, I love beat-em-ups, and they don’t get much better than this. The levels are fun. Beating the mess out of the different Foot Soldiers is great. I especially love the ability to throw them through the front of the screen. It was cool that they made that the way to beat the Shredder in the Technodrome. The announcer (BIG APPLE 3 A.M.) and the sound bytes (MY TOE MY TOE) are great. The boss fights are fun and can be legitimately difficult. I was giddy when I learned how to beat Slash without getting the crap beat out of me and losing nearly all my lives. Same with Super Shredder. We played this game until we knew it inside and out. The main problem is that the game is short, but at the same time, that meant we could beat it over and over again without much hassle, so maybe it evens out. I like to go through the game as each Ninja Turtle solo just for fun, so I think it adds replay value in a sense for it to be short. You can just pick it up and play it for a little while, and it’s fun.
Leonardo > Michelangelo > Donatello > Raphael forever
Hey look, a port with some good bonus content! I’ve honestly never had a problem with buying ports. I own quite a few, actually, but that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, I was a big fan of Kirby games on the SNES (My best friend and I used to play Kirby’s Dream Course all the time! Who else remembers this game?), and this was the best of the best. You had several games to choose from, each with varying styles of play, which was nice. Yeah, the games are pretty easy for the most part, but come on, no one plays a Kirby game expecting a challenge. They’re pretty notorious for being easy. I think they’re a lot of fun though. I enjoy stealing an enemy’s power and using them. It really spices things up and keeps things from getting too boring and repetitive. KSS is also a fun game to play co-op with a friend. I used to play co-op with my stepbro in this game a bunch.
Anyway, as for the games themselves, Spring Breeze is really easy and really short. It’s basically a tutorial game. I do enjoy the boss fights with Kracko and Dedede though. Dyna Blade was pretty much more of the same, only a little longer and a little tougher. The level design was better, and there were more powerups in this one, I think. The last fight with Dyna Blade is fun though. Once you got past these though, you got into the really good ones.
Great Cave Offensive was awesome, great level design, and nice collect-a-thon trying to get all the treasures. To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever collected them all. This one had some awesome boss fights, particularly the RPG spoof fight against the witch. Revenge of Meta-Knight is a blast to play. This one feels pretty action heavy and there’s even a sense of tension with the timer, although you usually never have to worry about time running out. Still, the presentation is top notch and makes it feel like you need to work as quickly as possible. Meta Knight and his lackeys talking throughout the game was a nice touch, some funny lines. The last fight with Meta Knight is a classic, and I love the escape on the Wheelie. Milky Way Wishes is a bit different from the rest because you collect permanent powerups that you can activate at any time, which is kind of nice, although I miss the old method of sucking up your enemy and absorbing their power, for some reason. This one has an excellent last boss fight though. Love the fight with Marx.
As far as the bonus games go, I wasn’t a big fan of Gourmet Race or Samurai Kirby. Megaton Punch was fun just so you could crack Dream Land in half. The remake made the Arena even better, and making a Helper to Hero mode where you could go through the Arena as one of the assist helpers was awesome, although the Plasma Wisp dude was overpowered and broken in that thing. Revenge of the King was like a beefed up version of Spring Breeze with an awesome steel cage match with Dedede at the end. Meta Knightmare Ultra was a lot of fun, getting to go through a lot of KSS stages as Meta Knight, and he’s as broken in this game as he is in Brawl! It still feels good to tear stuff up with him though, and the last boss in this one is legitimately difficult.
My favorite Kirby powers are the Yo-Yo, the Bomb, the Mirror, the Beam, the Hammer, and the Suplex, just for the record!
You had to know one of these was coming sooner or later, since I am one of Board 8’s most outspoken fans of this series. I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again: This was the best new series created in the last decade. Ratchet & Clank provides an excellent blend of platforming, combat, puzzles, sidequests, and just good old-fashioned fun. The cast is charming, and the writing is superb and witty. The weapons are a blast (literally and metaphorically) to use. The presentation is top notch. The worlds are beautiful and fun to explore, in addition to being nicely varied. There are tons of nice little touches that add to the overall gaming experience. Each installment works hard to make noticeable improvements over the previous game, which is always nice.
As far as UYA itself is concerned, it probably pushes the line between platformer and combat shooter more than any other game in the series (Well, except for Deadlocked, obviously). There are a lot of missions in this game that focus heavily on the combat aspect, particularly when you have to fight with the Galactic Rangers to fend off Tyrannoid invasions. There is also an excellent arena where you can fight a series of battles for excellent prizes and just a good challenge. That’s not to say there’s no platforming to speak of, just that there’s a greater emphasis on the combat aspect, which is fine because the weapons are excellent. The weapons, as always, are fantastic and varied, ranging from simple guns to weapons of mass destruction, both of the serious and comical variety. UYA also had an excellent upgrade system, where each weapon gradually gets stronger the more you use it and eventually upgrades to an entirely new weapon after you gain enough experience. It’s definitely a strong incentive to make sure you use all your weapons throughout the game, especially since there can be a tendency to want to rely on the overpowered Omniwrench.
UYA also introduces a new element to the series with a number of 2-D sidescrolling platformer levels starring Captain Qwark. They’re not really all that great, in my opinion, but they’re decent fun for what they’re worth. Plus, you get to play as Captain Qwark, so you can’t beat that. There are several levels where you get to control Clank (usually as SECRET AGENT CLANK with his chimp sidekick, aw yeah) and solve some puzzles, which are usually fun and well-designed. The series definitely did better with Clank’s segments in successive games.
And, of course, no writeup on UYA would be complete without mentioning how totally awesome Dr. Nefarious is. He is one of the greatest video game villains ever and helps make the game the best of the PS2 trilogy. Can’t help but love the guy!
It took a long time for Bowser to take center stage in a game, and when he finally did, he delivered big time. I’ve already said that RPG Bowser is one of the best characters ever, and this game is one of the big reasons why. The writing in this game is superb, very witty, in my opinion. The story is nothing special, but the quality of the writing really carries it along. I think some people find the writing style to be annoying, but not me. I think it’s great.
The battle system is pretty fun, too. I’ve always liked the way the Mario & Luigi games work with their timed hits system. I like the cooperative moves between Mario and Luigi. They’re fun to use. I also love Bowser’s special attacks with the different members of the Koopa Troop. The giant Bowser battles are awesome, if only from a presentation perspective. The battle system does a good job of keeping your attention and keeping you invested in battles. I liked how the battle system mixed together battling with Bowser and with Mario and Luigi. It was implemented very well.
The dungeon designs are usually pretty good and make good use of the various abilities the game gives to you. Some of them can be kind of tedious, and some of the areas can be unforgiving if you mess up. Some of the little mini-games that Mario and Luigi have to do in order to stimulate certain powers in Bowser are fun and clever, but some of them are annoying. They’re kind of hit-or-miss.
I do love the final battle in the game though. It was a great combination of music, atmosphere, presentation, and really feeling like the last boss was throwing everything at you. It made a good use of all the skills and abilities you had acquired up to that point. Very “epic” feel to it, which is what I want from my final battles.
24. Metal Gear Solid
I’ll go ahead and say this: I liked the Twin Snakes remake. I don’t mind how over the top some stuff is. I know a lot of people complain about Snake acting superhuman when he’s supposed to be more of a “normal” guy who overcomes incredible odds, but eh, I don’t really care about that. Some people say adding all the MGS2 gameplay elements makes the game too easy, but MGS1’s gameplay is a bit outdated and, as I mentioned before, I love MGS2’s gameplay. Most importantly, Twin Snakes got rid of Mei Ling’s awful, awful accent.
But enough about that. MGS1 is just a classic, plain and simple. I love the characters. FOXHOUND is probably the best set of villains in any game. Ocelot and Liquid in particular are awesome. Watching Snake’s gradual development over the course of the game was akin to watching Squall’s gradual development over the course of Final Fantasy VIII to me. They seemed very similar, at least to me, so that quickly endeared me to Snake. “The man who makes the impossible possible” thing also made a big fan because I love that kind of stuff in my heroes. The entire cast is pretty memorable to me. A lot of good characters in this one.
The boss fights are among the most memorable in gaming. Psycho Mantis, Sniper Wolf, the Hind D, Gray Fox, Metal Gear REX, the fist fight with Liquid, it doesn’t get much better than this in a game. The gameplay is a bit dated, as said before, and there’s way too much backtracking in this game. Also, MGS might be the only game I’ve ever played where the first area is the hardest part of the game. If you can get past that, you’re set for the rest of the game.
I find MGS1’s story captivating and compelling. I just kept wanting to play to find out what was going to happen next. There was a great sense of tension and drama the whole way through. Hardly a dull moment here. I was so invested in the story that I remember being totally blindsided by some of the twists, particularly all the twists that happened right after you do all the PAL Key nonsense. It was incredible. After all that, I had to get the other games in the series.
Fun Fact: The only reason I picked up MGS1 was because of Frog/Liquid Snake in 2004. I decided I should finally see what all the hype was about.
Okay, remember all that stuff I said in the Third Strike writeup? Take all that, and then apply it to this situation when they announced they would be making a Street Fighter IV. At that point, I was convinced that the series was pretty much dead, and all they would ever do anymore would be ports of older games. Then they announced SFIV, and I was ecstatic. Everything about this game looked great, and when I finally picked it up, it didn’t disappoint. It’s honestly been difficult going back to other fighting games after playing SFIV and SSFIV. It’s just that good.
Then when they announced SSFIV and that Guy would be included as a new character, it became the perfect fighter. I love Guy’s fighting style. He’s just fun. I was actually halfway decent with him at one point and I could win with him online regularly, although the fact that I haven’t played the game in a few months has probably hurt me. Speaking of which, SFIV was my first significant online experience. I’d played bits and pieces online with some other games, but this was the first time I ever really put a lot of time into online play (If you have a PS3 and SSFIV, my PSN is LeonhartForever. Add me please, and we’ll play sometime. You can also add me preemptively if you plan on getting Marvel vs. Capcom 3 for PS3).
Anyway, SSFIV added some great touches to the series. I’ve never been a big competitive player. I’ll never really be able to do some big combos or anything like that. I do like Ultras, Focus Attacks, and EX Attacks though. They were some great additions to the series. I don’t use Focus Attacks as often as I should though, and I’m way too quick to pull the trigger on an Ultra (and perhaps the main drawback of Guy is that neither of his Ultras are any good, but oh well). I do use EX Attacks whenever I get the chance though. They’re pretty awesome. There are also a decent number of characters I like to use: Ryu, Cody, Ibuki, Dudley, T. Hawk, El Fuerte, and Sakura, in particular. Never been too big on charge characters, except for Chunners, who I use occasionally.
26. Kingdom Hearts
As a gamer, I’m pretty easy to please. I loves me some good fanservice (I even enjoyed Advent Children!), so when this huge crossover between Square and Disney was announced, I was excited beyond measure, especially once I found out Squall was going to be playing a major role in it (and he was, of course, the best character in the game). Plus, getting to play through some of the classic Disney worlds, especially Agrabah, was an intriguing prospect.
Kingdom Hearts is really fun to play, at least for me. Some people complain about the button-mashing nature of the games, but to me, I don’t really notice as much because of the style and flair of the fights. I never really used the special abilities very much. I always had a hard time executing them correctly, for whatever the reason. If a game can manage some good presentation, I can overlook flaws like that (Same thing with FFXIII’s battle system, for example). A lot of the boss fights have great atmosphere, some of which is the nostalgia and just the awesome feeling of getting to fight classic Disney villains like Jafar and Hades and classic Final Fantasy characters like Cloud and Squall. Plus, KH has some great battle music, which helps. The second fight with Riku at Hollow Bastion is my personal favorite. Awesome atmosphere, awesome music, and just the right amount of difficulty. Also, the Coliseum is an awesome concept. I marked out getting to fight Cloud and Squall at the same time, honestly.
The game isn’t without its flaws, of course. Kingdom Hearts gets off to a bit of a slow start though. Destiny Islands is kind of blah. Traverse Town isn’t too bad. Wonderland and Deep Jungle weren’t all that great to me. Once we hit the Coliseum though, the game finally started to pick up. Hollow Bastion was an incredible world though and probably one of the only places where I really cared about the story (I mean, other than just going back through old Disney worlds to see how they handled the stories from those movies). Not a big fan of Sora, Riku, or Kairi in the first game either. They’re much better in the sequel. The Gummi Ship sucks, but you all know that.
But still, the good far outweighs the bad, and I’m able to overlook most of that stuff. The fanservice is excellent, and fighting is just plain fun. The game also has some fun sidequests. The style and presentation are just top notch, and I think the game does justice to both the Disney stuff and the Final Fantasy stuff, so no complaints there.
As much as people like to harp on the differences between Melee and Brawl, positive or negative, there isn’t a whole lot of difference between the two for me. They’re both games that I play for fun and never really very seriously, so since I manage to have more fun goofing around in Brawl, it ranks a little higher in my book. I’ve already written at length about what I enjoy about the games in the Melee writeup, so I’ll mostly deal with what I prefer about Brawl. I enjoyed the introduction of Final Smashes, and it was fun to watch everyone frantically go after the Smash Ball whenever it appeared. A lot of the new items were really good, too, my personal favorite being the Cracker Launcher.
Of course, the main thing that puts Brawl over Melee to me is the cast of characters. They got rid of a lot of the crappy clones from Melee and added some good new characters, particularly Solid Snake, Diddy Kong, and Sonic the Hedgehog. I love playing as those guys. They also made Kirby less awful, which is always good. The soundtrack is, of course, excellent. That goes without saying.
Actually, probably my biggest disappointment with Brawl was the stage selection. I thought there were way too many gimmicky stages. I don’t like playing Battlefield or Final Destination because they’re too boring, but I do occasionally want a more “normal” stage, so I’d have liked a little more variety on that front. Shadow Moses Island was cool and normal enough though, so whatever.
If you want a sequel that takes the concept of its predecessor and improves upon it in just about every way (except for Paper Mario’s epic final battle, which is hard to top, so it’s understandable), the Thousand-Year Door is it. It doesn’t really do anything ground-breaking or innovative. It just builds upon the original idea (which was already very fun) and makes it even better. The game adds a lot more…papery (hey, this is a word? Oh wait, it doesn’t mean paper-y, it means additional. Huh, the more you know) elements to the game so that it really feels like 2-D characters interacting with a 3-D world, something the original didn’t always do effectively.
TTYD just exudes charm from all its pores. The writing is very clever and witty, and the story never takes itself too seriously. I find myself laughing quite a bit whenever I play the game. The playable cast is fantastic, both in the story and in battle. I like that each party member was useful and had certain scenarios when they were effective. Obviously, there were certain party members I preferred over others (My Yoshi that I named Squall was the best), but it was nice to have a party where nobody felt totally irrelevant.
I loved how TTYD built upon the timed hits battle system and made it even more enjoyable, and they made it even more beneficial for you to do so. I liked all the different ways you had to work up a timed hit, and it kept things from getting too mundane. Having the crowd and being able to pump them up through effective timed hits and using stylish moves was an awesome touch. It made battles fun, and it worked to your benefit because you could sometimes get good items from them if you did a good enough job. It was also pretty cool when there were battles where the enemy interacted with the crowd in some way (except for the last boss fight anyway, that one sucked).
TTYD’s pacing is, for the most part, excellent (The exception being Chapter 4, which sucked, and Doopliss sucks, too). The Glitz Pit is one of the greatest concepts in an RPG. I love that place. I love the little bonus segments at the end of the chapters, especially Bowser’s SMB1 segments. RPG Bowser is one of the best characters of all-time, and although he’s relegated to basically a side character in this one, he still manages to steal the show whenever he shows up.
Oh, and if Nintendo ever makes a Paper Luigi based on his side stories in TTYD, I will love them forever and ever.
You know, it was awful nice of Square to throw in a free game with that Final Fantasy VIII demo they sold, and it turned out to be a pretty good game, too! Now that I think about it, I think this was the first game I ever played with voice acting in it. The quality of the voice acting wasn’t too bad either, from what I remember, although I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get Scribe Shanky’s voice out of my head as long as I live. Also, upon inspection, I see that Steve Blum did the voice for Colonel Capricciola! Whoa, I had no idea.
Speaking of which, one of the things I did appreciate about Brave Fencer Musashi was the clever writing and the name puns. Nearly all of the names have something to do with food. For instance, you are trying to save Princess Fillet and the Allucaneet Kingdom from Fuhrer Flatski and the tyrannical Thirstquencher Empire! Musashi is a pretty awesome lead character, too. The plot is generally lighthearted, although it does have some dark elements, particularly toward the end of the game, including a pretty awesome spoiler that I didn’t see coming.
The gameplay for this game is really good. Musashi wields two swords, Fusion and Lumina (Gotta wonder how Ford and Chevy felt about this), each serving a different purpose. Fusion is a small katana used for combos (and I believe the amount of hits you can do per combo gradually increases over the course of the game, if I’m remembering right), and it also has the ability to assimilate certain enemies and steal their powers. Some of them are pretty lame and useless, but some of them are really cool. Lumina, on the other hand, is a massive sword that you can use for power shots, but it doesn’t combo. Over the course of the game, you release Scrolls that give Lumina some pretty awesome elemental properties and can unleash some devastating spells or give Musashi some cool abilities (For example, the Sky Scroll gives him the ability to float through the air for a limited amount of time). There are also certain moves that use both Fusion and Lumina. You can also collect pieces of the Legendary Armor which grant Musashi certain abilities over the course of the game as well, such as a double jump.
The game also has an internal clock that affects certain elements in the game. There are certain things that can only be done during the day or during the night. Also, Musashi has a fatigue meter, so the longer he goes without resting, the weaker he gets. You can remedy this through resting, of course, or by using certain items to give him energy. It’s a pretty neat element that adds to the gameplay, I think.
There are also some pretty awesome dungeons and puzzles to solve. Some of them can be frustratingly difficult at times (such as Steamwood, which you have to do TWICE in the game, for some reason), but overall, the game is fun and enjoyable. You also have some pretty awesome boss fights which require some precise strategy and timing. You can’t just hack and slash through them and expect to win, which is nice.
Also, I’ve discovered that this game actually has a really good soundtrack. I’ve never heard anyone talk about it, but I’ve been listening to it, and I’m getting the urge to play this game again. Good times.
30. Shadow Hearts
After hearing all sorts of good things about Shadow Hearts and Yuri Hyuga from Board 8’s resident Shadow Hearts fanboys, I decided to find myself copies of the first two games to give them a shot and see for myself. Well, as you can tell, I ended up liking the games quite a bit. Yuri became one of my favorite video game characters over the course of the game, especially from the end of the Asia section and onward. The final cutscene at the end of the Asia section really endeared me to the guy, but what really put me over the top was when you first meet back up with him in Europe. The graveyard scene where he finally overcomes his fears and accepts himself for who he really is, in spite of his flaws and insecurities, is just plain awesome. Plus, the first time Yuri did his new Fusion animation, I’m not ashamed to admit that I totally marked out. He’s so awesome.
Honestly, a lot of Shadow Hearts feels outdated, almost like the game belongs on the PS1 and not the PS2. You definitely wouldn’t guess that this game came out around the same time as Final Fantasy X just by looking at it. Even so, it still manages to be very fun. The Judgment Ring is a really fun concept, although it feels kind of repetitive after a while. The dungeons are pretty blah for the most part, but thankfully, they’re usually short and over with quickly. The characters are fun and have some really cool special attacks though. Yuri’s Fusions are really awesome, which should go without saying. Margarete’s special attacks are ridiculous and over the top, which is just how I like it.
The main cast in general is pretty likable. When a game manages to give you a great lead male, lead female, and main antagonist, things usually go well, and Shadow Hearts delivers on all three big time. The supporting characters for the most part feel pretty unimportant, but they’re still cool and I like having them around. The story takes a while to get going. I wondered for a while if I’d ever get into the game (especially with some of the freaky stuff the game throws at you at the beginning with the village of the cannibals and Sea Mama), but man, once it gets rolling, you’re hooked.
I recently played Shadow Hearts again so I could get the good ending and complete the cycle, and I was surprised at how short the game was. It doesn’t take all that long to beat. I also made sure I had a Crucifix for all three characters before I faced the last boss, and it turned him into a total joke. It’s the biggest pain in the world if you don’t have that though. I hate bosses that rely primarily on inflicting status effects to kill you, especially when it’s the last boss. Great final battle music though (Bells and bells and bells and bells and bells).
31. Bomberman 64
From one multiplayer game that I sunk countless hours into with my friends to another, Bomberman 64 was just pure fun. There aren’t many things more enjoyable than trying to blow each other up with bombs. I’ve heard the single player campaign is surprisingly decent, but I never really got into it. This game was multiplayer all the way, man. My friends and I would play this game for hours on end, going through the various levels, nearly all of which were fun and different enough from the others to be worthwhile.
I think some people disliked the idea of a 3-D Bomberman, but to me, this is how Bomberman should be. I still enjoy some good old-fashioned Bomberman from time to time, but this was where it’s at for me. I loved being able to “pump up” bombs, for instance, especially if you had the powerup that turned your bombs red and made the explosions ridiculously large. It was fun trying to kick bombs with just the right timing to explode as it got near your opponent. It was fun trying to play king of the mountain in certain levels, getting up to the top and raining down an endless stream of explosions from above upon a bunch of hapless saps. The various powerups were fun and added some really humorous twists to the game. We were almost always laughing about one thing or another when playing this game. It’s kind of sad to think that those days are behind me now, for the most part. Oh well, precious memories.
Man, what can be said about Melee that hasn’t already been said about this game on Board 8? The only games that this board has obsessed over more than Smash Bros. are FFVII and OoT, and it’s not far behind. I loved the original Super Smash Bros. to death (It still boggles my mind that Nintendo almost didn’t release the game Stateside because they feared it wouldn’t do well here), so when the sequel was announced, I had to have it. It certainly didn’t disappoint. There are few games I’ve sunk more hours into than this one. The late 90s and early 00s were the peak of my multiplayer years when me and my friends were in middle school and high school, so Melee came out at the perfect time. We would play this game all the time, even sometimes being so crazy as to do 99 Minute and 99 Stock matches. I almost always won, too, somehow. I was always the best out of all my friends at fighting games (and still am, probably, not counting Board 8ers). Those were the days. The only rule was that you absolutely could not pick Icicle Mountain. I never really played the game competitively, but I never really had any friends who were serious enough about that kind of thing. We just played for fun, but hey, that was good enough for me!
Anyway, I always loved playing as Kirby and Luigi, although I by no means used them exclusively. All of the characters got a decent amount of play from me. Whenever I played with friends, I usually switched characters after each match, and I played through all the single player modes with each character. My favorite stage was Fountain of Dreams. I absolutely love the music for that stage, and I was sad when it wasn’t included in Brawl’s set of throwback stages. I’ve always had a dear love for the Home Run Bat. Nothing more satisfying than sending someone flying off the stage with one hit with that thing. Almost makes me wish I had someone to play Melee with right now. Ah, memories.
Well, it’s been too long since our last sports game, so…! In case you haven’t noticed at this point, I love Midway’s ridiculously over-the-top sports games (and speaking of which, I should’ve included WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game on this list! Who remembers that one?!), and NBA Jam is certainly no exception. This is one of those games I played like crazy in the arcades, so I was elated when they announced they were going to release a console version. Fun little coincidence: NBA Jam was released on consoles on my birthday, and my initials are J.A.M. Cool, huh?
Tournament Edition was the penultimate version of NBA Jam for me. You could play it as serious as you wanted to (No Items, No Hot Spots, Final Destination), or you could goof around with ridiculous powerups like being able to dunk from anywhere on the court or the ability to shove the other players all the way across the court. You also had Hot Spots that would occasionally appear, and if you nailed a shot while standing on one, you got that point value instead of the usual 2 or 3 (ranging from 4-8 points, if I remember correctly).
Anyway, the things we all loved about NBA Jam were all the ridiculous over-the-top nonsense, like the crazy dunks that could occasionally shatter the backboard and being able to push and shove with reckless abandon. Of course, your ultimate goal was to make three shots in a row so you could be ON FIRE and become an unstoppable machine, with unlimited turbo, the ability to goal tend without penalty, and the fact that your shots almost never missed. There wasn’t anything like that in any game that simultaneously gave you the confidence to be able to destroy anything in your path while striking fear into the heart of your opponent. It was a game changer. By the way, has any game ever had an announcer as awesome as NBA Jam’s? HE’S ON FIRE! FROM DOWNTOWN! BOOMSHAKALAKA! The only thing that sucked about NBA Jam was that you couldn’t play as Michael Jordan, but hey, we eventually got our MJ fix with Chaos in the Windy City, right?
This is one of those games that manages a good balance between story and gameplay. Both of them are very enjoyable, but the game never overloads you with too much of either at the same time. One of the great things about TWEWY is that you never have to fight enemies (except for bosses, of course) unless you want to, and you can choose whether you want the fight level to be easy, medium, or hard. Another nice touch is that if you’re struggling with a fight and you keep on dying, you have the option to scale the difficulty back to make things easier for you, if you’re so inclined. More RPGs should implement stuff like that.
The learning curve for the battle system can be a bit steep though, especially since you control two characters at the same time on separate screens with a different set of controls for each one (although you can technically let the computer control the character on the top screen if you want, if I remember correctly). Plus, each of Neku’s partners plays differently, so it’s kind of difficult to use them to maximum efficiency. But I’ll say one thing though: You’re never bored fighting battles. You’re constantly doing something, and the game makes excellent use of all the DS features for Neku’s attacks. It can be kind of embarrassing to play around friends sometimes because they would laugh at me for blowing in the microphone and wonder what the heck I was doing. I never had the courage to use the pins you had to shout to activate when they were around though. Still, there was an awesome variety in the things you could do with the battle system, so it was always fun to play.
I really like TWEWY’s story, too. The concept is very interesting. Neku starts off as a very unlikable character, but as he gradually develops over the course of the game, I couldn’t help but start liking him more and more. The supporting cast is solid, too, especially Beat. I love that guy. His sound bytes are so ridiculous that I can’t help but laugh at him. The Last Day was amazing from start to finish, and the ending was genuinely touching, at least to me. One of my favorite final stretches in a game right there. The game also has great replay value with its New Game+ mode being able to go back to all the days and meet certain prerequisites that unlock Secret Reports that explain plot points in more detail (because the plot could be kind of confusing at times and didn’t really explain a lot of things). Oh, and Another Day is one of the greatest “Game pokes fun at itself” segments EVER. So awesome.
I was a huge Street Fighter fan as a kid. I grew up playing Street Fighter II and all the variant offshoots that followed—Turbo, Championship Edition, Super, and Super Turbo. I read Street Fighter comics and watched the anime. I even watched the live-action movie, bought Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game (what a title), and watched the cartoon based on the live-action movie. I was thrilled when they released the Street Fighter Alpha games for PS1 (hint hint future list spoilers), and I liked Street Fighter EX, too (Skullomania and Cracker Jack for CBIX!).
So when word hit that they were making Street Fighter III, needless to say I was excited. I was kinda disappointed that they were only bringing back Ryu and Ken, but hey, they were my two favorite characters anyway, so I’d live. Thankfully, my local arcade got a SFIII machine, so I was able to enjoy this new experience. I loved the new graphical style and the new touches they added to the game. The new stages and the music were great. It was a brand new Street Fighter experience. A lot of the clones felt like mirror versions of old SFII characters, but who cares, I didn’t really use them. I was never able to beat Gill though because of that stupid Resurrection Super Art.
But then something terrible happened. The local arcade shut down, and there were no other arcades in my area, so my access to SFIII was gone. But surely they would eventually port SFIII to PS1, right? Nope, Capcom decided to make SFIII and the two upgrades that would soon follow Dreamcast exclusives (And as a result, I’ve never actually played Second Impact). So I was shut off from the world of SFIII for about 6-7 years.
Then it happened. Capcom finally released a version of SFIII: Third Strike for PS2 in the Street Fighter Anniversary Collection. I snatched up that bad boy as soon as I could, and I was finally reconnected with the world of SFIII. It was glorious. This game is awesome. There were some things to get used to and reacquainted with, obviously, but man, the game is fun. The gameplay was as smooth and refined as it had ever been. Parrying was definitely a great addition to the series, and it felt satisfying to notice myself gradually getting better at it. I grew to like some of the new characters, particularly Urien and Ibuki. I did manage to beat Gill in Arcade mode with all of the characters, which I made my personal mission because I hate that guy so much. The only problem is that I never really had anyone to play the game with at this point, but oh well. It was still worth the wait.
I hope you enjoyed my life story.
This was a game I played on a whim a year or two ago because I was just looking for something new to play, and I think someone on Board 8 recommended it to me, though I can’t remember who. I wasn’t really expecting a whole lot out of it. I’d never really heard many people talk about it. I was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable this game was.
The story is simple, but it’s one of those I enjoy because it ends up being one of those “against all odds” save the world epics. The Sinistrals appear to be invincible and unstoppable. One of them destroys two towns by himself. The fights against these guys are epic, in my opinion. Great atmosphere surrounding them. The battle system is for the most part standard turn-based RPG fare. Your characters do have IP attacks, which are special attacks that can be unleashed by a gauge that slowly builds up as you take damage. It has an FFIX-esque skill system in that certain weapons and equipment give you access to certain abilitys, but unlike FFIX, you can’t permanently learn any of the abilities. Sometimes it made it difficult to choose what piece of equipment to use because you didn’t want to lose access to a really good IP attack.
The dungeons are really good in this game, very Zelda-esque. There are generally several puzzles you have to solve in each dungeon in order to complete it. You gradually gain a number of tools you can use to solve puzzles, such as bombs, arrows, hammers, hookshots, etc. Some of them are really difficult. I had to look up a solution for a few puzzles because I couldn’t figure them out. Another nice thing about dungeons is that there are no random encounters. All enemies are visible on the map, and they don’t move unless you do so you won’t have an enemy sneak up on you. You can also use weapons to stun them temporarily so you can get around them without engaging them in battle.
The main characters are, for the most part, charming and likable. I found myself getting attached to them over the course of the game, to the point that I was genuinely touched and saddened by the ending of the game. I definitely was not expecting the game to end the way it did, but it was good. Very fun game, and I would recommend it to anyone who hasn’t played it!
Oh, and Lufia II contains two of the best battle themes ever to exist. Listen to them!
Ah, my very first RPG, this game holds a special place in my heart. I actually beat this game again not too long ago, and its age definitely shows, particularly in the storyline. The writing isn’t all that great, and the humor falls flat sometimes. I do enjoy the segments where Mario is trying to explain things without words so he transforms into various characters though. Bowser and Booster are, of course, awesome.
But while the plot can be silly at times (Fun fact: I once got modded for spoilers without warning for saying Mallow isn’t really a tadpole), I still find it a simple, enjoyable save-the-world tale. I think I like it because it was really the first Mario game to branch off of the traditional formula and do something different (Well, other than Mario 2, I guess, but no Bowser is a no-no). The goal this time isn’t to rescue Princess Toadstool, but rather to recover the Star Pieces to repair the Star Road and drive out Smithy, the mysterious invader. You get to team up with the Princess and Bowser, which was awesome and unprecedented at the time. Mallow and Geno were also good companions.
The gameplay is still really enjoyable though, I think. The concept of timed hits to do more damage or timing your defense to reduce damage is simple but brilliant. It keeps battles from getting too mundane. There were some awesome weapons (Hurly Gloves can’t be beat!) and some really cool special attacks. There were some really cool boss fights, too, like the Axem Rangers, Yaridovich, Johnny Jones, Jinx, and, of course, the Bundt Cake. I remember one time I soloed Culex with Princess Toadstool because she was wearing the Lazy Shell, and they could barely do any damage to her. That was an awesome moment. There were also some pretty cool mini-games, like the Yoshi races, collecting beetles while running up Booster Hill, and things like that.
Mario RPG had some cool environments and some great music. I love the Forest Maze (mostly because of the music). Nimbus Land is really awesome, as is the Barrel Volcano. Their presentation of Mario’s world is one of the most memorable, at least for me.
As a little kid, I was a huge fan of Spider-Man and Venom (Still am, actually), so this video game was like a dream come true, being able to play as both characters in a classic beat-em-up, especially since I love the genre (Much love to Final Fight and Streets of Rage, which unfortunately didn’t make the list due to my forgetfulness). It was cool that this game was based straight off of the comic series of the same name, and that the cutscenes were basically rendered versions of scenes from the comics. I liked how it stayed faithful to the original story.
The gameplay is pretty fun, too. It’s fun webslinging through areas and climbing on the walls. It’s fun trying to land enough consecutive hits without missing or getting hit so you can get that special power hit that does massive damage to whatever it hits. It was fun using your webbing to either bind them so they couldn’t move or to pull them close to you so you could beat the crap out of them. It was always an “Aw yeah” moment when you managed to pull off that move that pulled enemies on either side of you and slammed them into each other over your head. I liked the different superhero powerups you could collect and use, like Captain America or Black Cat. The game also had some great environments and backgrounds.
While the generic enemies were pretty lame, the boss fights were usually pretty awesome and challenging to beat. The last boss fight against Carnage in particular, holy crap, that thing is insane. Hope you saved up your Firestar powerups! This is another one of those games I don’t think I ever beat without Game Genie assistance. The Game Genie enabled me to beat many games back in the day, actually. Never used anything like that beyond the SNES/Genesis era though. I guess by the time I hit my pre-teen years, I didn’t want to rely on that stuff anymore! Oh well, they were still fun to mess around with!
Too bad Separation Anxiety sucked.
39. Parasite Eve
Let’s just go ahead and get this out of the way: Aya Brea is my video game crush. I love that girl. Now I have to find some way to acquire a PSP so I can play 3rd Birthday. Anyway, I love PS1 era Square. They pumped out one hit after another during those days (Speaking of which, I need to get back to playing Xenogears sometime soon). As a result of that, I found myself acquiring Parasite Eve simply in good faith in the Square label, and I was not disappointed. The gameplay is pretty fun. I liked how, although the game had an ATB type battle system, you had the ability to roam freely around the battle area (and so did the enemy). Your weapons and attacks had a certain range to them, so it was important to make sure you were in the right position to land the attack. Battles could be pretty challenging, too, and there were some tough boss fights. The fight against the giant T-Rex skeleton in the museum was very memorable for me, and Parasite Eve had the original GIANT ENEMY CRAB fight. The main flaw is that Aya moves SO stinkin’ slow it makes it a pain to explore.
The story was pretty good, too. I thought Eve was a really good antagonist. She had this air of invincibility like “How in the heck am I supposed to beat this thing?” about her, which I love. It makes it so much more satisfying when you’re eventually able to overcome it and win. Eve was always pretty awesome in FMVs, too. Whenever she was around, things usually spontaneously combusted. Good times. I love the very end of the game, too. There’s a great atmosphere around the whole thing, especially the last boss fight. My favorite moment in the game was when Bo dove out of the helicopter to try to give the special ammo needed to defeat the last boss to Aya, and he caught on fire on the way down because he got too close to the boss before splashing down in the water. What a hardcore dude. Fun game.
If I were making this list sometime in June 2008, this game probably would’ve made my top 5. MGS4 was like fanservice in disc form, and I loved it for that. I still do enjoy a large portion of the game, but it’s not without its flaws. The pacing is terrible. I dislike the 30 minute briefings before the beginning of each act. I dislike the fact that there is such a de-emphasis on the Codec this time that the only partners you get that you can freely communicate with are Otacon and Rose. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want them to do major plot reveals through Codec, but having a boatload of awesome optional Codec convos with an awesome crew at my disposal is one of the things I love about MGS3. It’s also really weird how Acts 1 and 2 are so gameplay heavy (and the gameplay is really fun, too), and then the rest of the game starts shifting more and more toward plot and away from gameplay. It’s a shame, too. I remember how Kojima was promoting how the gameplay segments would be you being able to influence the outcome in battle zones through your actions and interactions with the soldiers. They didn’t quite deliver in Acts 1 and 2, but it was kind of neat to work together with the rebel factions and win a victory in an area to the point where you could run around freely and the troops would give you items for helping them out. But that element COMPLETELY disappeared after that, and I was kinda disappointed. I was really looking forward to seeing how I could change things in the various areas (and I wish Kojima hadn’t taken out the ability to be able to ally yourself with the PMCs, but oh well).
I do enjoy the story though. Act 3 is an MGS3 fanboy’s dream as far as plot stuff goes. Being able to go back to Shadow Moses Island for Act 4 was a huge “Aw yeah.” Yet some of the stuff we waited years to find out (like the secret to Vamp’s immortality or how Liquid could control Ocelot) turned out to be rather disappointing reveals. I never made a big deal out of the whole Nanomachines fad like most people did, but it still felt like a letdown to have that be the answer for some major plot points. A lot of the boss fights are pretty lame as well. The boss fights at the ends of Acts 4 and 5 are amazing, of course, but the rest…Not so much. I do enjoy Old Snake’s struggle with his own mortality, and I especially love moments like the Microwave Scene, where he just lays it all on the line one last time to make the impossible possible. Liquid Ocelot consistently stole the show throughout the game, too. He was flat out amazing in this game, and it was some of Pat Zimmerman’s best work. Made me not even miss Cam Clarke!
So while I really like MGS4, there are just some little things here and there that drag it down and keep it from being the best. The good definitely outweighs the bad, but those flaws are hard to overlook. For the most part, the ending provided a rather satisfactory resolution to Solid Snake’s story (aside from the wedding stuff, which was terrible), but while I feel like I’m the only one who ever complains about this, someone PLEASE tell me why the last line of the Solid Snake Saga was a really bad joke. I cannot for the life of me figure this out. I honestly went into this game expecting to be moved to the brink of tears by the time this game was over (and I never quite got there either), not facepalming at a bad joke. Why, Kojima, why?!
41. Tecmo Super Bowl
Ah, my first sports game and one that holds a special place in my heart to this day. I actually didn’t own a whole lot of games for the NES, partially because I started playing games around the beginning of the SNES era and partially due to my best friend’s parents owning that video store (with all the free rentals and stuff). Anyway, this was one of those NES games I played the heck out of (That, and Super Dodge Ball, which I unfortunately forgot about. Who else played that bad boy? Aw yeah). I remember one time being out to eat with my family and wondering when we were going home so I could get back to playing this game. I have no idea why in the world I remember that, but I do. I didn’t realize Tecmo Super Bowl was the first sports game to use the real team names and real player names in the same game (The more you read Wikipedia, the more you learn!), so that’s neat.
I tried playing this game again not too long ago, and while it’s still fun, it’s kind of limited in what you can do with it, so I can only play it for so long. Still managed to finish the season and win the Super Bowl, but still only once! After that, I had to put it down. Even so, it’s still very satisfying to complete that long pass or break that long run while breaking 10 tackles or zigzagging up and down the field avoiding sliding tackles. Also, I loved the little animations when you scored a TD, someone got injured, or whatever.
And for some reason, despite being a Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons fan as a little kid, my team of choice was the Houston Oilers (perhaps it was fate that they eventually became the Tennessee Titans!). Warren Moon to Haywood Jeffries unstoppable combo
This was a great co-op game back in the day. You pretty much had to play with a friend to get the full experience with this one. It just wasn’t the same in single-player mode. There was a quirkiness about this game that made it hard not to love, whether it’s screaming in terror when the mask-wearing chainsaw-wielding freaks cut through the hedge maze or whether it’s trying to kill a toddler that’s mutated to 40 feet tall. This game is basically a homage to horror movie stereotypes everywhere. There are also an awesome array of weapons, from silverware to squirt guns to soda cans to weed whackers to bazookas (which can conveniently be used to blow up some doors if you can’t find the key). It was also a nice touch that certain weapons worked better on certain enemies to fit horror stereotypes (like crucifixes being very effective against vampires and silverware being effective against werewolves).
The game is genuinely difficult, boasting 50+ levels, including bonus levels. I don’t think I’ve ever beaten the game, actually. My friend and I always got stuck on this one level where we couldn’t find the Skull Key we needed to open a door to advance. The game was never really frustratingly difficult though, from what I remember. There was a sense of satisfaction at surviving some of the difficult levels and being able to rescue all of the neighbors in a level. Fun game.
I’m generally not a big fan of SRPGs or the job system (controversial opinion alert!), but Final Fantasy Tactics is the exception. I’ve honestly never really bothered to mess around with a job system in any game to figure out the best combos and game-breaking stuff (and I’ve never really done it in FFT either), so maybe that’s why I don’t really get into it. I also like using the special NPC classes and using the special skills, so yeah. I just like tearin’ stuff up with Orlandu wielding Excalibur.
Anyway, Final Fantasy Tactics is really fun. I just enjoy fighting battles. I like the way the battle plain is set up, and there are some good maps. I’m not particularly good at this game, so I do end up getting lots of game overs at places like Golgorand, Riovanes, etc. It can be frustrating at times, but for the most part, it’s fun and enjoyable. I like messing around with the various job classes, but I generally don’t take the time to grind and develop the skill sets for them, so that probably hurts me a bit. Regardless, winning one of those fights is very satisfying, and I feel like I earned it.
I love FFT’s story and the main characters. Ramza is one of my favorite heroes ever. He may be simple and straightforward, but I love his “Do what’s right, no matter what the cost, even if you have to do it alone” approach. Delita talks about how he’s the one going against the tide, but he ultimately ends up just like everyone else, a self-serving guy with his own agenda who’s not afraid to use and dispose of whoever he needs to do so. Ramza’s really the one who goes against the tide. The problem with FFT’s cast is that most of the characters beyond the main 4 or 5 just don’t get enough screen time or eventually fade off the scene, especially those NPCs after they permanently join your party and you can control them yourself.
I do like the “dark,” serious mood of FFT’s story though. There isn’t a lot of humor in this game (aside from the laughable translation goofs at times). In fact, there aren’t a lot of happy moments throughout the whole game. Most of the time, you’re mired in the midst of some conflict with a tragic outcome, even down to the very end of the game (which makes Ramza’s determination all the more admirable, in my opinion). Not every game needs a happy ending, and FFT certainly doesn’t have one. That dark atmosphere manages to grip me every time I play for reasons that I can’t quite explain. I just get engrossed in it, and I love it.
Oh, and “Requiem” is such an underrated song.
44. NFL Blitz
This generally refers to the entire series before it jumped the shark and became like every other NFL game. Granted, I haven’t played Blitz: The League or any of the ones they released without the NFL license, so I don’t know what those are like. But still, the recurring theme of a lot of these games early on in this list is MULTIPLAYER NOSTALGIA, and this game has it in spades for me. I was actually undefeated against my friends playing this game. I’m kinda surprised I always managed to avoid losing because of how luck based it can be at times and how the game seems to work against you if you’re ahead, like you turn the ball over more, you stop being able to make interceptions, and the team trailing makes more big plays, breaks tackles easier, etc. I suppose it keeps games interesting in a sense because they stay close, but at the same time, it’s kinda frustrating because you know the only reason it’s close is because the game is disproportionately favoring the loser.
It was actually my stepdad and stepbrother I played in this game more than anyone else, mostly because of the fact that they could never beat me. They would always challenge me to a game to see if they could win. We would always play the longest quarters, and we would play 2-on-1. They almost managed to beat me a few times. I remember one time I was up by less than a TD, and they were driving with only a few seconds left. They completed a pass inside the 5 yard line and thought they were going to score the game-winning touchdown and finally beat me, but I somehow dove out of nowhere and tackled them short of the goal line with no time remaining. These games could get really tense, with scores routinely being in the 100s, trying to beat the pass rush by trying to mix up what you would do on the plays, and so on. There was actually a decent bit of strategy involved because you couldn’t just run the same plays over and over again and chuck it into the air.
But of course, like most Midway games, it’s the over-the-top cheesiness that really makes the game. Beating the living crap out of your opponents, tackling them and dog-piling on them after the play is over, having the ridiculous TD celebrations, the stupid trash talk, you can’t beat that stuff. Then there would be the ridiculous plays, with 50+ yard passes being routine, double lateral reverse passes, and there was hardly anything more satisfying than landing a stiff arm and blowing another player out of the way. Just good, old-fashioned fun.
45. Mortal Kombat II
I imagine I’m going to take a lot of flack for this one, too, but I’m not ashamed to admit that I was a pretty big Mortal Kombat fan back in the day! This was a fun game, although not without its faults. The only thing that really distinguished the characters was their special moves since their regular attacks were pretty much exactly the same. It was fun uppercutting people way up into the air or roundhouse kicking them across the screen though.
Sub-Zero was always my favorite character in the game though. Freezing people in midair and having a free shot was always very satisfying. Managing to get someone to slip on the ice puddle was nice, too, because it’s completely embarrassing for your opponent to get trapped by it. There were lots of fun moves that were satisfying to land on your opponent, like Liu Kang’s bicycle kick, Raiden’s flying torpedo, Johnny Cage’s nutcracker, etc. The Fatalities, Animalities, Friendships, and stuff are pretty cool touches at the end of matches. Babalities were stupid, of course. Yes, I don’t have a problem admitting that I enjoyed performing a Fatality on an opponent at the end of the match, and they were, for the most part, pretty creative. They were fun to try to pull off and watch. That’s what matters to me. When I played this game, I had fun, even if it never had the depth of Street Fighter. Everything was so over the top and cheesy, and I loves me some over the top cheesiness.
I don’t know if I ever beat single-player mode on Mortal Kombat II without a Game Genie. Getting up to the final two isn’t all that bad, but man, the AI for Kintaro and Shao Kahn was brutal. If I got lucky enough to actually beat Kintaro, Shao Kahn would make short work of me. Did anyone actually manage to beat this game fair and square? I know I’m not exactly the best video game player, but man, I can’t be the only one who felt the last two bosses were totally unfair.
46. GoldenEye 007
Oh look, it’s an FPS! I’ll just go ahead and say that this game is being ranked solely based on its multiplayer. I never personally owned this game. I would play this game when I went over to my best friend’s house, and we would always play 4-player multiplayer mode. I’ve never even touched the single player mode, which I’ve heard is actually pretty good. Also, keep in mind, I haven’t played this game in like 15 years, so my memory is actually pretty fuzzy. I just remember having loads of fun and almost never winning because I suck at FPSes. I usually didn’t care about winning though, so it was no big deal!
I loved the proximity mines (or whatever they were called). We would always try to kill each other with these (and this competition eventually carried over to Super Smash Bros. with that particular item), and there was a competition to see who could get the most kills with those things. Slappers Only was also a fun mode. Everyone always wanted to be the midget dude, too, because he was the hardest to kill. I made the mistake of picking Jaws once. That didn’t end well. Like I said, I wish I could go into more detail about this game, but man, it’s been so long since I’ve played it that I’m just going off of memories of multiplayer fun with friends! Those memories are hard to erase! I know a lot of you are going to say stuff about how dated GoldenEye is, but I wouldn’t know!
47. NHL ‘94
Sports game alert! Maybe SOMEONE reading this list has actually played this game! I’m not even sure how I managed to get into this game because I don’t really like hockey, but man, this game was awesome. My best friend and I used to play this game all the time when he’d come over to my house, and we’d have a blast every time. It wasn’t about the goal scoring. It was about beating the crap out of the other team and trying to injure all their players. Then when you do score, you spend the entire celebration animation going around and smashing the other team just to rub it in. This game had an animation where you could smash a player through the glass into the stands, and we always worked hard to get that one. Perhaps my favorite moment was one time we were having a face-off on the very first play of the game, and my friend injured Wayne Gretzky by slamming into him instead of going for the puck. It was awesome.
We usually played on the same team and did playoff mode as the Chicago Blackhawks. He usually controlled Chris Chelios, and I controlled Jeremy Roenick. He was better at scoring than I was, so I was usually the enforcer who got the puck from the other team, and he would score the goal. Occasionally, we would play against each other, and we would usually pull the goalies to make for high scoring affairs. Of course, that wasn’t the main draw. It was about beating the crap out of each other. It didn’t matter who won (although he usually did, I think). The game actually had some pretty catchy goal-scoring tunes, too.
And yes, I seriously ranked this game above Chrono Trigger. And if you’ve never played this game, shut up. You just don’t understand how fun this game was! Many of my best gaming memories come from multiplayer experiences with friends, so this one is a big nostalgia rush for me.
48. Chrono Trigger
Yeah, this is probably going to get a lot of “Too low” reactions from people, but while I like Chrono Trigger (obviously, otherwise it wouldn’t be on the list), I don’t consider it one of the all-time greats. I admit that it doesn’t really do anything poorly, but it isn’t really the best ever at anything either. It does manage to do everything well, and I’ll give it credit for that. I can see why people love the game so much, but I don’t have that same level of love for it. Chrono Trigger has great environments and a soundtrack that goes along great with those environments to set the atmosphere.
Chrono Trigger is simple, but enjoyable. The plot isn’t anything extraordinary, but the pacing is good, so it keeps you from getting bored with it. There are some really awesome moments though, my personal favorite being THAT scene with Crono at the Mammon Machine. The characters are simple archetypes, but they’re executed well enough that I don’t really care that they’re not deep (Well, except for Marle, but hey, you can’t win ‘em all). The battle system is very good. Fights never drag on for too long, and Techs are a nice touch that make you want to use all the characters just so you can see what combos you get.
I always like games that make use of New Game+, and it’s having multiple endings gives you plenty of incentive to keep replaying the game if you’re so inclined. I don’t really enjoy the game THAT much to get all the endings though, but whatever. I’m just glad that it’s an option. More games should have this kind of stuff available. I’m actually kind of a fan of the fact that it makes subsequent playthroughs easier because usually you’re trying to do some completionist stuff rather than worrying about the challenge level of the main game.
49. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
For as much as I poke fun at MGS2 and fans of the game, I still like it a lot. Yeah, it’s the weakest game in the series, but the Metal Gear Solid series generally pumps out strong entries, so being the weakest link is still better than most games I’ve played. First of all, let me say that the Tanker is about as close to a perfect level as it gets. It’s the perfect length to play over and over again. It’s the perfect size. There’s enough variety in the gameplay and strategy in the different corridors to keep you from getting bored. There are all sorts of little Easter Eggs to keep you entertained, and while Otacon is your only Codec companion, the save conversations are awesome. The story is really good, too, and gets you hooked.
And then along comes Raiden and the Big Shell. Don’t get me wrong. I like Raiden, but man, the guy provides his fair share of facepalming moments throughout the game. The Big Shell is a lot of fun though. Honestly, as far as gameplay goes, MGS2 is probably the most consistently fun in the series. Running around, incapacitating guards, and trying to stay hidden is as fun as it gets in the series. This is probably the only game in the series where I make a worthwhile effort to do those things on a consistent basis because it’s fun, and there are plenty of ways to do it. While MGS4’s gameplay may be technically superior and more refined, there are way too many lulls in the gameplay to consider it the overall best in that department. The only really “Argh, when is this stupid thing going to END?” part in MGS2 is the bomb defusing part, and even that mercifully doesn’t last that long, especially on subsequent playthroughs when you already know where they are. The boss fights are pretty good, for the most part (except for Fatman, worst character in the series). The Harrier is awesome.
Here’s where I’m going to stir up some dissension: The thing that makes me consider MGS2 the weakest in the series is the story. I enjoyed the story a lot until…Let’s see, probably right around discussion about the Patriots got serious. At that point, the story just started getting silly, and I didn’t like how they seemed to use Codec conversations to reveal just about every major plot point. Darn it, if I wanted something like that, I’d read a book (or listen to an audio-book, I guess)…! Oh well, at least all the stuff on top of Arsenal Gear at the very end made up for a lot of that.
As many of you know, I’m not a huge fan of the Zelda series. The only other game I’ve completed from the series is A Link to the Past (and it’s not on this list, just in case you were wondering), although I do plan on beating Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, and The Wind Waker in the near future. I do like Twilight Princess though. It got off to a slow start, but once we started hitting the dungeons in bulk, it became a lot of fun. Arbiter’s Grounds, Snowpeak, and City in the Sky were all great dungeons. There were also some pretty neat items, especially the Double Clawshot (which appeals to the Spidey fanboy in me, aw yeah). The Spinner’s overrated though! There were some great boss fights, too. I loved fighting the bosses in Arbiter’s Grounds and City in the Sky (the latter in particular having an awesome atmosphere, since every boss fight is improved by rain, which makes me wonder why more games don’t take advantage of this fact). The fight against Zant was really cool, too. I like boss fights that do the whole “scene shift” thing.
I actually liked playing as Wolf Link, too. I thought it was a neat gimmick. Yeah, it was kind of limited, but I still enjoyed it. There should’ve been more things you could do with it. The motion controls were pretty good, too. I liked learning those secret skill things. That one secret Wild West-like village where you had to go all Solid Snake and kill all the imp things without being spotted was pretty cool, too. I kinda wish the overworld wasn’t so darn big though. It’s a pain navigating the thing until you open up those warps. Midna was a decent sidekick.
Oh, and Ganondorf still sucks.