Welcome back, everyone! I’m looking forward to continuing this list with you all! Last week’s games covered a pretty wide spectrum – everything from games that I really loved to games that I found particularly interesting, if not as good as some others I left off. But the games coming up this week definitely get in to those that I truly love. Pretty much everything this week is a game I loved playing, had some special memory with, or just found to be of really high quality.
50. The Lost Vikings (PC/SNES)
My next door neighbor had this game on his computer and I’m pretty sure we never got past the fourth level. But we had a TON of fun getting stuck there. Eventually, I did get through the whole thing, and loved every second of it. There isn’t another game like this out there (well, except for maybe Lost Vikings 2…). It’s an excellent platformer/puzzle game in which you use the skills of three very different Viking friends to navigate dangerous areas across space and time. The characters and enemies are interesting and the stages/worlds are memorable and extremely well designed. If you haven’t seen it, give yourself a treat and watch Johann_Howitzer’s SGDQ 2015 run (I’m the guy in yellow who shows up about halfway through), in which he uses 2 controllers at once to speed through this thing. After you’ve tried the puzzles for yourself, of course.
49. Kirby’s Dream Land 2 (GameBoy) && 48. Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 (GameBoy)
I remember having a LOT of fun with these games. I pair them together because they both had a pretty similar impact on me. The levels were fun and challenging, and I spent HOURS trying to get all the treasures/exits in each game. There were a lot of dynamic movement options, with Wario’s various hat styles and Kirby’s powers/animal buddies. These really are some of the earliest mobile games I remember playing where completion really meant something, and since I’m a completionist at heart, they’ll always have a special meaning to me. I’m considering getting a 3DS just to be able to play these on Virtual Console.
47. Star Fox 64 (N64)
Do a barrel roll!! Or rather, do lots of barrel rolls, through several diverse and interesting worlds, in a game with tons of action, challenge, and replay value! One of the best flight sim/space shooter games out there. It’s pretty impressive how much variety there is to the levels. From the combat arenas to the underwater level, from the space sectors to the planet surfaces, battling through the Lylat system was a great time. Trying to get enough points to medal on each stage was an awesome challenge. One of the game’s coolest mechanics came when a stage would have multiple exits – meaning that each time you played the game, the experience was a little bit different. I never played much of the SNES Star Fox, and I don’t expect that I’ll play Star Fox Zero, but if they’re anything like this game, I expect I’d enjoy them a great deal.
46. Harvest Moon (SNES)
I’m not sure what’s happened to the series today, but the original Harvest Moon was crazy fun. It’s actually kind of surprising, since the game basically consists of doing the same thing over and over again every day for two years (in game time, of course), but somehow it works. It’s just very rewarding to have so much of your hard work pay off so quickly. You clear the fields, buy some seeds, plant them, water them, harvest them, repeat! The random Holidays in town added some spice to the monotony. Picking a bride and attempting to woo her was also always great fun (I was always partial to Ann, myself – something about that red hair, maybe). The game was just filled with really lovable characters and simple mechanics. I like that the game had a definite ending, rather than just going on forever. And the quality of that ending depended in great deal on how you conducted yourself over the course of the game. I probably played through this game as many times as there were endings (at least once per wife, of course). The best ending was when you’d end up wooing your sweetheart early enough to have two babies before the game concluded (maybe that’s where I got the idea that having a lot of kids really quickly was a good one…. ). Lots of fond memories with this one.
45. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1)
This is another classic that I didn’t get to play until very recently – and I absolutely understand why it is so well regarded. It’s the only game in the Castlevania series I have played, and it makes me really want to go and play the others. This was a really cool game. The combat took a little bit of getting used to, but once I did, it felt quite natural, albeit a little repetitive. I loved exploring all around Dracula’s castle. The most amazing thing about the game, though, was that moment when you think you’re almost done with the game and get to the upside-down castle, only to realize you’re only halfway there! The game is oftentimes compared to Super Metroid, which I can understand. It’s all about exploring, finding items/abilities, and revisiting places you’ve been in the past. However, I find the game a little more repetitive than Super Metroid – as the abilities and levels and equipment don’t open up quite as much new stuff as in that game. But still, it’s a fantastic game, and I’m glad I finally got to try it. My play through of this was streamed blind on my Twitch channel, and I have the full playlist up on YouTube. Click here if you want to check it out!
44. Shovel Knight (Wii U/others)
Shovel Knight is another one of those games that came out of nowhere to absolutely blow my mind. It takes everything I love about retro games and puts it into one beautiful package. The attention to quality and detail in this game is absolutely phenomenal. The Mega Man influence is obvious, but knowing that this game was also influenced by Duck Tales, some of the original Castlevanias, and Zelda 2 makes me really want to go play those games as well. It’s extremely impressive how much content Yacht Club games was able to pack into each level. The collectibles and power ups are a ton of fun, the achievements are a great challenge, and the boss fights are each unique and challenging. This is one of the few MUST PLAY games that I think has come out in the last few years. I haven’t quite completed it fully yet, but I will – and then it will be on to Plague Knight. I’m really excited to see that they’re going to continue supporting this property for the foreseeable future.
43. Metroid Prime 3 (Wii) && 42. Metroid Prime 2 (GameCube)
When I first heard about Metroid Prime, I was pretty skeptical. I have never been a huge fan of FPS games (with the exception of Goldeneye), and I didn’t know how well the genre would lend itself to the Metroid style. Boy, was I wrong! They’re not so much first-person shooter games as first-person ADVENTURE games. Everything you could want in Metroid was here – spooky and mysterious worlds, power ups to collect and unlock, and awesome fights. While MP1 is the clear best in the series, 2 and 3 are exceptional in their own right. I give MP2 the nod because I really liked the dark/light world mechanic. It just works so well in that game. (Wow I did two combo blurbs in one day – sorry about that. 8 for the price of 10… or something…)
41. Final Fantasy XII (PS2)
Everything that’s good about MMO games with none of the junk! I didn’t know what to expect with this game. I came to it a bit later than its release – almost 10 years later – so I’d heard about some of the complaints people had with the battle system. Once I found myself getting into it, though, I absolutely loved it! I could tell very quickly that Square had taken the lessons they’d learned froom their foray into the MMO world with FFXI and applied them to a single player campaign. This is the first Final Fantasy game where buffs/debuffs are actually useful. The gambit system – while a bit convoluted – is actually a great way to control your party in this MMO style of game. The best thing about this game is just how huge and immersive the world is – this may well be the biggest game I’ve ever played. It has to come close to most hours required for a first playthrough. The story kept trying to grab me, but somehow always just kept falling short. I was pretty disappointed with the ending, as I felt things sort of just stopped right when it was starting to pick up steam. But getting Order of Ambrosia – this game’s full completion challenge – was a whole lot of fun!
As with last week, here’s a sneak peak at the next game on the list:
Diablo III (PC)
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.