Home > 1, Video Games (Main) > My Top 50 Games of All Time, Not Yours: #40-31

My Top 50 Games of All Time, Not Yours: #40-31

Well by now you might be wondering what I’m smoking with these games I’ve denoted as my favorites of all time, and we’re not even into the meat of the list yet!  If you’re curious enough to want more here’s the next ten games that will make you nod in solemn agreement or smirk and shake your head, with little in between.

40.  Double Dragon

A classic.  Like you even need to watch the video, less you feel the urge to hear the iconic first stage music.  Everyone’s played it, and as far as I know everyone’s loved it.  What a weird trend to restart the list with a reminder of the nostalgic power of the beat ’em up, but what better game to accomplish that with?  The name even sounded cool and embodied the ’80s definition of what “cool” was.  When your friend asked you which games you had, it rolled off your tongue with pride and bad ass-ery.

It’s kind of funny (as in “curious”) that the game began with your girlfriend getting punched in the stomach by some thug.  Not exactly something kids were ready for back then, but man did it get your blood boiling.  What jerk would do that?  Man, I’m so pumped up for the garage door to open so I can unleash hell!  Not even women in pink leotards can escape my wrath, and don’t brandish that whip unless you want a lesson on how to use it.  A game this dated that never gets old despite its simplicity is what retro gaming is all about.

39.  Sega Marine Fishing

I apologize for the video, as I couldn’t find any gameplay without someone talking over it.  

Here is a kick ass fishing game in a world where there just aren’t enough.  Sure, real life fishing isn’t nearly as relaxing for us novices as it is for an expert, but that’s the beauty of video games.  In a virtual world you don’t have to know how to tie a swivel if your line breaks, you don’t get wet or cold, and you don’t have to fork over hundreds of additional dollars on an already expensive vacation to try and catch a monster of the ocean.

Now that that’s off my chest:  Sega Marine Fishing offers only a half dozen locales to fish in, but that’s plenty in that the variety of fish is off the……….chain.  We’re not messing around with trout, bass, or even walleyes here; think more along the lines of giant blue marlin, hammerhead sharks, and tuna that could feed a starving family for months on end.  You just grab your trusty Sega Fishing Controller, choose a nice spot and whip a lure the size of a Coke can into the water.  A few seconds later one or more aquatic behemoths will be swimming at full speed towards your line and therefore directly towards you, first person-style.  One of them latches on, and the fight begins.  With deft precision you manage your line just below the breaking point and your crew mate impales your catch with a big, long stick, barely able to pull it into the boat.  Congratulations, you just caught a 236 lb. swordfish.  

Then you throw your line out and do it all over again.  The game keeps track of all your biggest catches for each species of fish.  Worth noting is all the while you’ll be unlocking new lures, fishing clothes, and most coveted:  items for your zoo-sized aquarium.  There’s over 80 items including the fish themselves, rock formations, sunken treasure, moving submarines, plane wreckage, and more.  If you have a Dreamcast, seriously, get this game.  Now that the Wii is out there’s no need to be embarrassed by using a goofy controller, especially if it deters you from playing a game that’s a blast even for my girlfriend (true story).

38.  Panzer Dragoon

When talking about older games, it’s hard to resist the urge to simply write “Wow, this game is SO fun,” but obviously I’m not going to do that here.  It’s tempting though.  Panzer Dragoon for the Sega Saturn embodied what Sega had going when they churned out a great game:  Impressive music and visuals, solid gameplay, and just enough innovation where you knew you were experiencing something new but in a familiar package.

Aboard a huge dragon you flew gracefully over water, desert, and all the other obvious settings but with the power of a then new system capable of handling 3D graphics.  In this case those obvious settings were dotted with things like ancient ruins, giant sandworms, and mammoth bosses.  Panzer Dragoon was technically an on-rails shooter, but to minimize it into a generic-sounding category like that would be just plain wrong.  It was a game that burst the industry through that third wall that the technology simply couldn’t show up until then, and showcased a new age where games were going to look, sound and play beautifully if developers made good use of the tools at their disposal.

37.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turles:  The Hyperstone Heist (aka Turtles in Time)

 Here’s another one where those who swear by the NES will be on same page with me.  Right off the bat, let me explain the title:  The Hyperstone Heist was the subtitle of the Genesis version.  There, mystery solved.

This game was a revelation for many of us when it was released.  We played the arcade version and loved it to death, all while yearning for the same game played in the comfort of our own homes.  Thankfully the major console players both delivered, and this holy grail of digitized TMNT was brought to us in glorious cartridge form.  Everything was as it should be, save for a small lack of graphical prowess that could be ignored.  We all picked our favorite turtle, meaning 75% of us wanted to be Michaelangelo, only to realize Donatello or even Leonardo would end up being the smarter choice.  We resisted anyways.

All the major villains from the cartoon series were present unless you count the Rat King.  It all arced so perfectly too:  you started off busting the heads of random Foot soldiers, then the robot thingies with one wheel and whip arms, on through Bebop and Rocksteady, until you made your way through to the big dogs:  Shredder and Krang.  There was nothing here not to like, and spending 400 Microsoft points to have the game perpetually reside on my Xbox 360 was possibly the easiest $5 I’ve ever spent.  

Side note:  In the Genesis version, you could not throw Foot soldiers into the TV screen so I admit NES fanboys have me there!

36.  Fighting Vipers

Like 3D fighters?  Never played this?  For shame.  A little known fact is that as great as Namco 3D fighters are, they pretty much owe their entire existence to Sega.  Why?  Well at some point a handful of programmers left AM2, a division of Sega in charge of their groundbreaking Virtua Fighter series.  Where did they go?  You guessed it:  Namco.  And what game came out of nowhere from the company known mostly for Pac-Man?  Tekken.  So there you go, a little video game history lesson.  

Why do I mention this?  Because Fighting Vipers is another AM2 monster than can hold its own against any 3D fighter you can name that came out around the same generation.  Its lack of sequels is the only thing holding it back from being mentioned in the same breath as VF, Tekken, and Soul Calibur.  Admittedly the game isn’t all that different from the first two mentioned, the only differences being over the top music and character designs and an armor-breaking system that didn’t seem to affect gameplay all that much, but that gameplay was every bit as good as its siblings.  Also the final boss looks almost identical to Serpentor from G.I. Joe, so it’s gotta be on this list somewhere.

35.  NiGHTS:  Into Dreams

At the risk of sounding preachy, we live in a time where everyone is obsessed with instant gratification and violence almost has no effect on our psyche.  Everyone craves more of everything, and to the fullest extent possible.  Nothing really shocks people anymore and the world is stranger than fiction could ever be.  Assuming all of that’s true, it’s by far the biggest reason NiGHTS deserves a spot on this list.  It caters to none of those notions whatsoever.

The game involves the player controlling a cartoony character in a purple Harlequin outfit who flies through children’s dreams.  You collect as many bubbles as you can and fly through as many rings as you can to rack up a high score and finish the stage on time.  These dream landscapes you fly through could be described as either straight out of a child’s story book or a really strange acid trip, but usually as the former.  The game really does have a whimsy to it where you never stop to think for one second that it’s a kid’s game, and if you would happen to do so it wouldn’t bother you in the least.  Cripes, there aren’t even really any enemies to speak of except for boss fights that break up the normal gameplay and even those involve something along the lines of bouncing them around, not punching or shooting.

 It’s rare that a game can actually make you buy into its world instead of you simply judging it by your expectations.  NiGHTS accomplishes that with simplicity and great production values.  I guess you could say it’s one of those “you just have to play it” kind of games, but if that’s the case trust me, go play it!

34.  Metroid Prime

Once upon a time I owned a Nintendo Gamecube.  I actually liked the console but long story short, it froze almost every game I tried to play and since I got it for Christmas the return policy had expired since so much time had passed since my parents actually purchased it.  So I was stuck, and Metroid Prime was no different than the other half dozen games I owned but couldn’t play for more than ten minutes.

You know what though?  I played the first two levels constantly until the console told me I had to stop, and once I walked down to a friend’s room who let me play on his GameCube.  It was an amazing gaming experience.  The graphics were great, the controls were tight and on point, and the game’s combat and puzzles combined to demand your utmost concentration while still having fun.  Technically-speaking this game is almost perfect on all fronts, and would certainly be much higher on the list if it weren’t for the fact that a poor college kid couldn’t afford to buy a second GameCube!  If you’re a bit confused that this game is a tad low, focus on the fact that even after only playing the first few levels I still slotted it in the thick of the rankings.

33.  Kid Chameleon

This is probably the most underappreciated side-scroller of all time, I really mean that.  It’s at least almost as good as the Super Mario Bros. series, which is a bold statement so allow me to explain:  The game plays a lot like Super Mario Bros. first of all and has 100 levels, all with drastically different appearances, and you have the ability to change into nine other forms like a samurai, rhino, and Jason Voorhees look-alike.  If you like old-school games this is a no brainer if you haven’t played it before.  The challenge is there and obviously the value is there as well.

One thing I never understood is why Sega never pushed this game more in the advertising sense.  I was able to find a TV commercial (which oddly enough features the voice of the guy who did Michaelangelo in the TMNT movies), but to my knowledge I had never seen it as a kid.  The only reason I bring this up is because it really would have been a worthy addition to Sonic the Hedgehog in terms of Sega building up a resistance to Mario.  Oh well, the point is the game is that good and outside of maybe Sonic and Mario you really can’t get any better than this.

32.  Left 4 Dead

These days, a testament to how good a game can be if you have no trouble teaming up with friends in co-op because without even pitching the game to them half your friends list simply went out and bought the game and played it regularly.  Left 4 Dead fits that description.  Even though the co-op experience was limited to four campaigns upon release, I still played it to death (pun intended) with my roommate and a half dozen other friends, some of which I hadn’t spoken to in months.  

I preach all the time about how games can be simple ideas and shine through as insanely good experiences.  Here, you have a simple idea:  Let the player walk around armed with the choice of only a handful of different guns, and throw massive amounts of zombies at them.  We’ll even have the zombies be somewhat randomized so the experience is different each time, and let players play seamlessly online with their friends.  There.  Sometimes that’s all it takes.  This isn’t even mentioning the online humans versus zombies mode, which adds even more replayability.  I can’t wait for the sequel and this game embodies the notion that developers don’t need to think so hard.  Make the game FUN and make it a seamless experience and people will buy it.

31.  Earthworm Jim

Come on, does it really get any better than Earthworm Jim?  As you may have noticed, I have a high appreciation of games that have humor that works so this game was an easy choice.  Even aside from that, it’s just a great platformer that pushes what’s expected of the genre.  The stages are crazy, the enemies are even crazier (a robotic suit controlled by a fish in a bowl on top as the head) and Jim whipping himself in order to reach high places is great fun.

The game really hit on all cylinders.  It’s funny to kids and adults alike, the gameplay is solid from start to finish, and it’s also technically sound.  Earthworm Jim has an odd place in gaming history in my opinion.  Everybody’s aware of it even if they hadn’t played it in the past, and there’s not much to complain about yet it’s never given the props it deserves in comparison to similar games known as “classics.”  Maybe it’s the humor aspect of the game that doesn’t let people take it seriously, but to me it only puts an exclamation point on what would have already been a crown jewel of the 16-bit era.


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