Home > 1 > My Top 50 Games of All-Time, Not Yours: 30-21

My Top 50 Games of All-Time, Not Yours: 30-21

November 17, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

We’re right in the thick of things now, no point in turning back at this point!  Here’s some more of my somewhat off kilter top 50 games of all time:

30.  Final Fantasy VII

This game is pretty important in my gaming “career.”  Not owning a Nintendo gave me no opportunity to experience games like the Legend of Zelda or the previous Final Fantasy games.  There had been a good batch of RPGs offered by Sega as well (Shining Force, Phantasy Star, Sword of Vermillion), but they weren’t as high profile as the flashier games I was more accustomed to as a kid so I never played them.  When the PSX came on the scene though, I had no choice but to ride the wave and purchase Final Fantasy VII.

The game was certainly an eye opener for me, but even for RPG veterans it was apparent that the genre had taken a leap forward.  3D graphics and epic music really made it feel as if the series had come to life, and obviously the story, characters and art direction were impeccable.  There were other worthy RPGs around the same time such as Breath of Fire and Suikoden, but none of them took advantage of the newest hardware like this game did.  Even for gamers that had a good idea of what to expect in terms of gameplay this is still a big notch on their RPG belt, and those of us that had no idea what we were in for were more than pleasantly surprised.

29.  Prince of Persia:  The Sands of Time

Pop:  The Sand of Time is a great example of successful blending of genres.  What the developers set out to do was an offshoot of the classic PC game involving puzzling paths and doses of action mixed in to keep the game exciting, and they succeeded.  Borrowing a little from Tomb Raider, much of your time was involved with simply trying to get from here to there; the thing is that usually meant any combination of a precise jump off a ledge on to a suspended pillar, then on to a tight rope, then onto icy stalactites that crumble at the touch, running on walls, and many other crazy parkour moves you needed to pull off to exit one large room and enter another.

As mentioned, combat provided a nice injection of frantic action to all that deft maneuvering.  It was somewhat stripped down, but being able to manipulate time and perform acrobatic attacks and blocks while surrounded by multiple enemies was a fun treat that let you turn off your brain a little bit just in time to tackle another harrowing piece of architecture.  Everything here works, and that’s why I had no complaints from beginning to end.  There is no bad pacing and no levels you would remove if you had the choice.  All in all, a great fusion of genres where it was apparent that the developers put in the extra effort to make sure it was just so.

28.  Strider

A game that’s more dear to my heart than the ranking shows, Strider was developed by Capcom and originally came out in the arcade before making its way to the Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis.  It was one of those titles that fit right into the period where Sega had a leg up on Nintendo due to their earlier release of the Genesis, and this version of the game is the consensus preferred port.

Maybe I was still having a 16-bit lovefest but regardless Strider had a lot of elements I hadn’t yet seen in an action side-scroller.  Unique jumping, climbing, and wall scaling tactics made it feel very fresh the crazy flash of your blade when pressing the attack button was bad ass at the time.  The reasons I will always love Strider have as much to do with the great gameplay as it does how I came across it:  I rented it one weekend as a kid and, unbeknownst to my parents (who were footing the bill), proceeded to not return it for another two weeks.  They were mad when my friend spilled the beans, but we were having so much fun with the game it didn’t even matter.  I’m sure many of you also have a story like that from back in the day and it just makes looking back a much richer experience.

27.  SSX Tricky

This is just a great snowboarding game with a tilt towards arcade fun that still demanded precision control from the player.  Many thought the Run DMC jam that invaded the game every time your meter maxed out was annoying, but to be honest I never got tired of it!  Up until this game came out I had played Cool Boarders 3 which was a fun game but that was the extent of my snowboarding video game experience.  This game pretty much took Tony Hawk onto the slops and made it more arcade-like and a bit more accessible.  

As far as content goes the mountain was absolutely huge and allowed you to go on trick runs as well as races.  Shortcuts accessed by pulling off tricks and using your skill made it more enjoyable and gave it sort of a San Francisco Rush feel.  There was also a nice amount of new snowboards and clothes to outfit your character with and upgrade the handful of stats he/she had.  Once you picked up the game, if you determined you like it it was a sure fire purchase due to the replay value and the old school desire to constantly improve your scores and times.

26.  Animal Crossing

Here’s a game that a lot of people won’t admit they loved.  For the record, I DID play this game entirely in college and YES I did have a girlfriend.  Anyways, every once in a blue moon a game comes out that’s so cute you couldn’t imagine you’d actually like it.  Animal Crossing was certainly one of those games but man was it addicting.  The premise of controlling a cute little “animal”, decorating your house, performing odd jobs, fishing, etc. was so darn simple it worked.  You didn’t have to have 10-20 years of gaming experience to understand it and enjoy it, and if you could get past the candy-like exterior you would find a simple game that offered just about as many in-game hours as you were willing to put into it.

The main catalyst that made the game so fun was the real-time clock and calendar.  Events like Christmas and the four seasons were mimicked accurately within the game as they happened in real life.  It was especially satisfying in my college days since the game sort of followed right along with the breaks and whatnot I had going on in my own life.  The wacky outfits and interior decorations also made the game a blast to play.  Being able to outfit your house with an indoor campfire, totem pole, or even an NES with some nostalgic games made you want to keep coming back, especially since a lot of these items were secret or only available at certain times of year or in certain places.  Great fun that you, your girlfriend/boyfriend, little sister or even your mom can enjoy (my mom owns it for her Wii).

25.  Super Mario Galaxy

Fans of Super Mario 64 might disagree, but I don’t think there’s ever been a better total 3D representation of classic Mario gameplay than Super Mario Galaxy.  Like I mentioned in the intro to this entire list, I hadn’t played a whole lot of Nintendo growing up.  I did however play the original Super Mario Bros. a lot (who didn’t?).  In my opinion this game is an exact modern replica of the Mario games of old.  All the added components make sense and don’t detract from the feel of a classic franchise updated for today’s standards.

Again, much like the older games in the series the worlds all feel different and inviting in their own way.  Moving the nunchuck to acquire gems independently from moving the stick to control Mario worked fluidly and flawlessly.  I have to admit I had a bit of motion sickness/vertigo when I first started traversing the globe shaped sections of some levels, but that quickly went away and I was treated to everything Mario has offered gamers since day one:  Up to date gameplay with a tight, classic feel and a learning curve that’s just right for pretty much everyone.

24.  Revenge of Shinobi

I’ve been hearing a lot about how Shinobi III is considered by a lot of people to be the best in the series.  I always liked Revenge of Shinobi for that title myself.  They’re both great and pretty similar, but I’d put the second in the series at the top for being a bit more simplistic and for grittier graphics.  

Compared to the original this game really did enter the franchise into the 16-bit generation, with an incredibly more mobile lead character, more creative levels, and wackier yet still challenging bosses.  Another game that gave you a violent shove into the world of 16-bit, I can’t look at it as anything more than a big leap forward for Sega, although those who had previously played Ninja Gaiden were probably less impressed.  Understandable.

23.  Doom 3

Simply put, this game is scary as hell.  For my money it’s right up there with any other game that’s known as “survival horror.”  It’s the usual Doom premise with you stuck in a interstellar base where everything goes haywire and there are zombie soldiers and crazy monsters prowling all over the place, but with a twist.  Most of the game takes place in pitch black darkness and you can only hold up your gun OR your flashlight, not both.  This is a simple gameplay mechanic that made every step so nerve-wracking you had no choice but to constantly be on the edge of your seat.

Seriously, turn out the lights and fire this game up.  I promise you’ll be jumping at the slightest sound until something really IS after you and then the little girl screams will begin.  I played once in online co-op with a friend and it was an absolute blast because we were both so freaked out the entire time.  Plus, hearing your buddy frantically yell for help through the mic kind of adds some realism in an unintentional sort of way.  This game plays like a roller coaster and shouldn’t be mistaken for “just another Doom game.”  Side note:  If you’ve ever ridden the old Disney ride based on the Alien movies as a kid it’s a good indication of how it feels to play this game.

22.  Resident Evil:  Code Veronica

Maybe it was because I was so happy that the Dreamcast got an (at the time) exclusive Resident Evil release, but I always liked Code Veronica the best.  If I were to make a long story short, I would say it was just as good as the previous games all around but with an upgrade in the presentation department.  Plus without giving anything away I thought the storyline was not only creative and complicated, it actually made sense for the most part.

The thing I felt separated this from the previous installments was that you actually travelled to different locales.  I believe a base in Antarctica was featured prominently, giving the series more scope than it had in the past.  Also, the main villain (aside from Wesker’s typical contribution) was a really great character who you couldn’t quite figure out until the end.  Believe it or not there was actually a couple parts in the cinematics that were dramatic and heartfelt without coming off as cheesy.  Bonus points for the psychological horror of a giant tarantula in plain sight that doesn’t end up attacking.

21.  Bionic Commando:  Rearmed

As much as I love my Xbox 360 and the DLC it provides, I have to say most arcade games available for download are either junk or just not worth the outrageous price tag ($5 for Frogger???).  This game shattered my perception though to be honest.  The changes they made to the original NES version are only cosmetic and successfully update the graphics without detracting from what made the original great.  The bosses are of the classic “find the weakspot” variety, which is a refreshing change to what we’re mostly used to nowadays.

What makes this game exceptional in my mind is that not only do you have an impeccable port of an 8-bit classic, you also have dozens of challenges to complete in record time.  I was a big fan of Metal Gear Solid:  VR Missions so needless to say it was love at first sight when I delved into the challenges presented here.  They’re so damn frustrating, yet I promise you that you will not quit.  A game is doing something right when that happens, because it means the developers have somehow challenged you to the point of insanity yet you’re only frustrated with yourself, not the game.

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