I introduce something a little bit silly in this post. Instead of posting a screenshot for Game #68, Mega Man, I’m going to post a link to a YouTube video of myself doing a speed run of the game. Why? Well, showing the entire game does a lot more to show it off than just a single picture, right?! I’ve only done a single run of each Mega Man game – so by no means are these top-tier playthroughs of the games. But I thought it could be fun to mix things up. As for today’s list of games, this is when we start really getting to games and styles that I love.
70. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Genesis)
Nintendo vs. Sega. Nintendo vs. Sega. Who will win? The original console wars of the 1990s put today’s to shame. I was always a Nintendo kid, but Sega had SONIC. He just oozed coolness. I never finished the game when I was a kid, but Sonic 2 had such fun gameplay and fun worlds. Tails made for a great sidekick and the Green Hill, Chemical Plant, and Casino Night Zones were extremely memorable. I finally completed the game as an adult (in a bad speed run, which you can which here if you’d like) and was very impressed by the difficulty of the late game. Metropolis and Sky Fortress are truly incredible challenges.
69. Pokemon Red/Blue (GameBoy)
How to even begin with Pokemon… The games and series need no introduction. What an innovative, creative, and all around exceptional pair of games these were. They’re the only Pokemon games I’ve played, so sadly no other entries will be present on this list, but they’re absolutely magnificent. While fairly simple and a bit heavy on the grind side (especially when looking for those elusive rare Pokemon), these games are a completionist’s dream. The characters are cute, loveable, and memorable. And yes, I did catch all 151!
68. Mega Man (NES)
The blue bomber makes his appearance! Plenty of Mega Man games on the rest of this list. The original is definitely the weakest of the group, but still an exceptional game in its own right. In a few places on this list, I am combining using a single entry to represent an entire series, and it could be argued that I could do this for Mega Man, given how similar the gameplay is in so many of them and that they’re relatively short. But I love this series, and feel that each game has its own unique strengths and weaknesses. You’ll see all six of the NES classics on this list.
67. Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2 (Wii)
In immediate contrast to Mega Man, I’m lumping these two games together as one. They’re basically the same game, really. And extremely fun ones at that. They follow the formula that was so successful with SM64 (and Sunshine, which I never played) and quite literally take it to another level. There’s so much to do, so much variety in game play, and so much challenge here. While Mario 64 really emphasized the 3D elements, these games combine 2D and 3D elements in beautifully rendered worlds filled with classic characters. While not as timeless as their N64 counterpart, they are every bit as fun.
66. Mega Man X4 (PS1)
First of the Playstation MMX games, and what a fun one it was! The action is really intense and fast paced in this game. The levels are fun and memorable, and playing through the full game as either X or Zero adds a ton of replay value. I wasn’t sure how well the series would translate to Playstation, but it really worked out very well. Zero, in particular, was a TON of fun to play, as the expanded saber mechanics learned from beating bosses really opened up a lot of dynamic gameplay. It also introduces cutscenes into the Mega Man world, something that was only realized to its greatest possible potential in Mega Man 8.
65. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 (PS2)
I loved the Tony Hawk games – 2 and 3 in particular. The levels were a lot of fun, and there was a TON to collect and do in every stage. The music was AWESOME (at least to my 15-year old ears – not sure how I’d feel today), and the gameplay was just really, really smooth. It’s amazing that so many sweet moves could be pulled off with just a PS2 controller. As you might expect of me by this point, my favorite thing to do with these games was try to complete every objective in each stage. Sometimes that meant racking up a high score, sometimes exploring the level for secrets, and sometimes just doing something entirely random. I give 3 the nod over 2 because it was a little more polished. The levels were bigger and better – but it really is a very slim gap between the two games.
64. Syphon Filter 2 (PS1)
This was a great series. The story felt engaging, the levels were fun, and the gameplay was an interesting combination of FPS and general action-platformer. It was really fast-paced and always had a lot going on, and some of the later levels got to be rather challenging. Two was the best of the three games, with three being the worst – but they were all a ton of fun. I have a lot of great memories playing through all three of them with my friends in high school.
63. Final Fantasy XIII (PS3)
For all the hate it gets online, this is actually a really good game. It has its weaknesses, sure, and is the lowest of the “modern” FF games on the list, but it’s still a lot of fun! First, this may be the most beautiful game I have ever played. It is the first game where I ever just stopped moving and paused to move the camera around and look at the environment. The story and characters are interesting, if underdeveloped (though the voice acting is very good, in my opinion). The highlight of the game is by far the battle system. It gets knocked for just being “auto-battle,” but nothing is further from the truth. The paradigm system and stagger mechanic lead to some really interesting battles, if you’re using them properly. I have my criticisms, certainly, but in no way did they prevent me from enjoying the game as a whole.
62. Metroid Fusion (GameBoy Advance)
Super Metroid is one of my all-time favorite games (probably won’t be hard for you to guess where it will be on the list…), so I was extremely pleased to find this one. It had been a long time since a true 2D Metroid had come out when I first played this game, and I absolutely loved it. It really pulled on all the right nostalgia strings – bringing back a lot of the classic feels of Super Metroid. When I look at it now, a bit more critically, it is definitely weaker than its SNES counterpart. Movement is a bit more awkward and the game is a bit more linear. But this isn’t trying to remake Super Metroid, and has a ton of features that make it stand out on its own. It’s an excellent game with a unique premise and a lot of interesting and diverse areas. I haven’t played Zero Mission, but it looks to be pretty similar to this.
61. Earthbound (SNES)
This game stinks. I mean, really – there’s that fight with Master Belch, which is pretty gross. Deep Darkness is kind of an icky place. The happy-happyists probably don’t shower very often. The sheer number of trash cans, bugs, and stray dogs just leave a foul odor lurking over the whole thing. Speaking of holes, going underground to deal with a massive rodent infestation is kind of gross. And what’s the deal with all those mummies? Fighting protoplasms? You do realize that’s just snot, right? Ness’s mom really should have taught him that cheeseburgers you dig out of a trashcan aren’t good for you. Ok – by now you probably get it. This game is quirky, weird, and crazy fun. In a lot of ways, it’s almost like a sitcom – where a pretty normal guy (with crazy psychic powers) is thrown into a situation where he is surrounded by a bunch of really weird people. At its heart, it’s a story of coming of age and friendship. There’s no other game quite like it. Everything about this game is so uniquely Earthbound, and it’s wonderful. I’ve never played Mother 3 (its sequel) but from everything I hear, it’s even more of a quirky trip ride than this one, so I look forward to some day giving it a go.
Tomorrow’s list kicks off with the most classical of classics at spot 60:
Super Mario Bros. (NES)
Reminder: I’ve considered things like gameplay, replay value, timelessness, story, unique qualities, cultural impact, personal impact, and overall just how much fun a game is. Except for the times when I don’t consider them at all. I may even think a lower-rated game is “better” than one higher than it, or even more fun. Ultimately, the criteria are entirely my own. I make the decisions, I make the ratings, and I don’t claim to be either fair or logical in any of this.