Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Top 20 Favourite Games (20-11)

I did a top 20 "best games of all time" list and I felt the title was a bit misleading. I am in no way stating which games are the best of all time, just what games I personally love the most. The following list contains games that are personal favourites to me and I had to stick to 20 because I really do play way too many games for a top 10 and there has been SO many favourites over the years that I just cannot overstate how much I love.

But first off I wanna give some honorable mentions to games that barely made the list:


I really love Half-Life and I've played it a lot back in 2001 and 2002, one of the games that really made me feel immersed and made me feel like I was going through one big world and not just levels and cutscenes. It was a groundbreaking game in the terms that it constantly kept you in first person and felt very cinematic but in a different sense than games like Metal Gear Solid. Though it hasn't aged that well and I find it really hard to play through these days unlike the games on the list so I just can't include it for that reason. I just don't play it anymore.

The Longest Journey and Pinchcliffe Grand Prix
Pinchcliffe Grand Prix
I've played these games a lot, TLJ mostly due to the great dialogue and lengthy expositions done by the excellent voice actors and it's easily one of the best Norwegian games I've played, next to the Pinchcliffe Grand Prix game, which I also really played a lot back in the day but I just don't play it anymore at all so I find it hard to include. Pinchcliffe Grand Prix is basically a collection of arcady minigames that you play in order to win car parts to build the legendary Il Tempo Gigante car from the movie and race in a Death Rally esque racing game. It's a really solid game, not very impressive graphically but it does the job well and runs on pretty much every computer since 1998 and the graphics were really good for the time in terms of CGI animation and you can really tell a lot of passion was put into it to make it as close ot the movie as possible, even getting some of the same voice actors even if it's been over 20 years since the movie came out. There IS a Nintendo DS version of this game but I have yet to try it out and I hear it's kinda meh so... I might just stick to the PC version. The entire game is in Norwegian since the movie is a Norwegian cult classic, but I'm pretty sure there is an English version too, just saying. The game received a prestigious EMMA award in 2001 so that counts for something. One of my favourite aspects about the game is that it's entirely without violence and still manages to be a lot of fun and is a great introduction for younger players into gaming and especially simple arcade games. I don't play it that much anymore but I can see it as a game I might play with my children one day.
The Longest Journey
TLJ is an adventure game about April Ryan who turns out to be having the power to travel at will between two parallell dimensions, one is in the science-focused Stark while the other is in the magic-focused Arcadia. It's a really solid point-and-click game with a huge story and universe and great voice acting and it's only ruined by the terrible sequel Dreamfall which I honestly consider one of the worst games I have ever played in my life. But TLJ is a great classic by all means. Either way, both of these games I have played a lot and I really loved them but I just don't find myself having the will to revisit them.

So that's it for the honorable mentions, let's move on to the 10 first games on my top 20 list.

20 Duke Nukem

Duke Nukem was the first game that I remember playing at all. My father was a computer enthusiast and so naturally I got a lot of experience around computers growing up and Duke Nukem was a really popular shareware title when I grew up and it got a lot of gameplay from me. My dad probably can't count all the times he woke up at 5 in the morning from the PC speaker sounds. The game is a fairly decent platformer that sported some nice graphics for the time and paralax scrolling on PC was a bit of an achievement back then as PC platformers were starting to take off. It might not have aged that well as it sports EGA graphics and mere PC speaker sounds, but for me the nostalgia is really strong and to this day I still play this game a lot and it's arguably one of my favourite platformers ever. The basic goal of the game is to get to the exit of the level but with as many points and as much health as possible, since it's a very arcady game and it's all about getting the highest score. You're armed with a ray gun to kill off enemies which can be upgraded as you play to fire more rapidly. It's divided into 3 episodes, and the goal of each episode is usually the same, kick the ass of Dr Proton and his Techbots to hell, though the setting and level design varies between each episode, a theme that would be revisited in future games.
Just like most Duke Nukem games to follow, it wasn't terribly original or even that good, but it was incredibly unique in the terms of style. Of course, I would come to grow up with Duke and his later games and they are some of the games I have played the most in my life and it was all thanks to this initial game. Though I'm placing it lowest on the list due to it having some issues such as the levels getting pretty repetitive after a while and some of them are even pretty badly designed and can be a chore to get through, but overall this game is as solid classic DOS gaming as it gets. The game can easily be found online as you can get it at GOG.com and even on Steam as well, though since the game originally was released through mail order by Apogee, finding a boxed copy can be next to impossible, so if you do find one, consider yourself lucky.

19 BlackThorne

I'm not sure what really draws me to this game, whether it is the awesome 16bit graphics, the music, or just the sheer style of the game and the uber-sexy macho hero who reminds me of Duke Nukem for some reason. All I know is that I played it a LOT as a kid, almost as much as the first Duke Nukem, and also play it a lot today in DOSBox. It's just an overall solid action/adventure game in the vein of Prince of Persia, except you get a shotgun and the ability to hide in the shadows, not to mention you can fire behind your shoulder without looking (which would be IMPOSSIBLE but it works in a 2D space just fine). The main goal of the game is to fight an evil overlord who has enslaved your people and you have to go through 3-4 different stages to get there, each stage split into sections that you travel through in Prince of Persia style. Some might find the controls a bit sluggish but if you've played PoP before, they should feel like second nature. It's just a really cool game and I always keep it installed for some reason. Pretty difficult to find nowadays, especially a boxed copy.
Really wish it would be released on GOG.com or Steam as Blizzard do own the rights to this game since they developed it. A GBA port was released more recently though which might be easier to find though I really recommend tracking down the DOS version since every other version I've played was very censored and the blood was recoloured green while in the original DOS version the violence was more graphic, giving it a more adult feel.

18 Terraria

There are few games I can just play for days and never get tired of. When I first played Terraria I think I must've played it for an entire day almost, it's a game that I'm almost afraid of playing since I know I won't be able to play anything else for several hours or even an entire day if I get into it. A lot of people compare it to Minecraft but that's almost an unfair comparison as Terraria is so much more than what it appears to be. I've also had some people not wanting to play it due to the 2D graphics but to me that's one of the reasons I love it. It reminds me so much of the old 2D DOS games I played as a kid and I completely adore the style of it. While you can craft in the game and a lot of the game centers around crafting and building, you also have tons of enemies to fight and even bosses, and there's a lot of really good RPG elements in play that make it a very diverse experience. It's just a game I never get tired of and I can see myself playing it way into the future. The game can be found on Steam for next to nothing these days so I strongly recommend checking it out if you have any interest in Minecraft-like games, though like I said, it's a lot different from Minecraft.

17 Metroid Fusion

Out of all the Metroid games I strangely find Fusion to be my favourite. I've played it over and over more times than I can count and while I don't play it that much anymore it is the game in the series that I find the scariest, with the best story, the best controls and also the best gameplay. It is easily the best 2D Metroid and while the music isn't as memorable as Metroid 1 or Super Metroid, it definitely does set a good tone and adds a lot to the atmosphere in the game. The sound effects are really good for the GBA and I also really enjoy the fact that the game is pretty linear so you never get lost which for me was a common problem in other 2D Metroids and even the 3D ones. It is much easier to get through the game in Metroid Fusion and that's always a plus for me. Of course I have nothing against the more free exploration in other Metroids, I just simply prefer a more linear path and I am very happy that Fusion offered that. I also find the X parasites a really cool enemy and I think the SA-X is the most memorable enemy in the entire franchise, only possibly rivaled by Dark Samus in the Prime games. I only have one thing left to say, this game can bring chills down my spine and it's on a handheld platform. To me that counts for a lot.

16 Quake
Aww, he just wants to hug you!
Of course, to me I wouldn't be able to make a favourite games list without throwing in at least one id Software game and to me, Quake will always be their crowning achievement. The Lovecraftian tone coupled with the Nine Inch Nails sound design and the classic FPS gameplay that popularized a lot of things such as rocket jumping and online multiplayer even more than Doom did, makes Quake a solid 90's classic game that people are still modding it and creating new content, and with engines like Darkplaces you can even install high resolution textures that really make the game feel a lot more modern. The game is basically another Doom, except with less of a It really is their best game in my opinion and although it often falls under the shadow of Doom and Wolfenstein 3d, to me Quake just combines everything they had done at that point and perfected it. It was also a groundbreaking title in that it used polygon models instead of sprites, something that was really cutting edge back in 1996, especially since the game ran pretty well on most PC's, although it definitely benefited from hardware acceleration.

15 Grim Fandango

Of course I had to squeeze in an adventure game here and while I really love other games like Monkey Island and The Longest Journey, Grim Fandango is really my favourite adventure game of all time. I've played it so much that I know the entire game, every character, every line, every scene by heart and I must've played it more than any other adventure game I can think of. It's just a really charming game, chock full of humor and a bit of dark undertones too and the world was one of the first that I felt was believable and I could explore and get lost in. The art design also feels really fresh as it mixes 40's art deco with Mexican folk lore, something no other game has done to my knowledge, at least not in the same way and that well. The game is about Manny Calavera, who might appear to be the grim reaper but he's nothing more than a salesman who sells trips to the Ninth Underworld, the place of eternal rest, while spending his time trying to work off his time so he can get there himself. Of course he discovers that there is some heavy corruption going on and uncovers a web of deceit that leads him to an underground resistance and so on, though his quest soon becomes more about finding a woman who he feels responsible for, Mercedes Colomar, after not being able to give her a good trip despite her flawless attributes. It really is a gripping story and one I don't mind replaying now and then, like a good book or good movie, you can watch it again and discover something new.

14 Star Fox

The only console that I've actually spent a considerable amount of time gaming on was the SNES and among the games we had for the system, one of them was a little game called Star Fox, or Starwing here in Europe. The game is fairly unique in that it was one of the few games for the SNES that utilized real time 3D graphics. It achieved this by actually having a 3D processor chip included on the cart itself, which did all the math for the polygons and stuff, leaving the rest of the functions such as sprite scaling and sound to the SNES. This made for some really graphically impressive games for the SNES, Star Fox being probably the most popular and it's easy to see why. Star Fox is so much more than just a tech demo for the Super FX chip, it's actually really fun to play. It's basically an on-rails arcade shooter where you play through a set course of levels out of a possible 3, each of varying difficulty, attempting to get the highest score possible. Everything about Star Fox makes it an insanely memorable game for me and I even got so much into the game that I put on a headset and pretended to be actually flying the arwing. Easily one of my favourite SNES games and one I can pick up and play any day. There's even a slight animals vs humans theme going on which I find really intriguing.

13 Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams

Now this is one that I just wanna include because it has become one of my favourite games lately. It's a PC platformer that is essentially a sort of modern remake of the old Giana Sisters game for Commodore 64. Though Twisted Dreams is actually more than the original game was. While the original Giana Sisters alot of the time felt like a mere Mario ripoff, Twisted Dreams has a much more unique feel to it and a lot of really cool gameplay elements that I just haven't seen in other platformers that much. It takes some clues from the new Super Mario games on Wii but adds its own style and flavour to it. The music is done by Chris Hülsbeck and Machinae Supremacy and they've done a stellar job re-imagining the old chiptunes from the original into pretty epic rock songs that still maintain the addictive melodies and update them with more modern production, giving them more of an edge. An interesting thing about this game is the focus it has and the focus is on parallell dimensions and almost everything in the game, graphics, sound AND gameplay work together towards this focus. You can change between the Giana Sisters at any time you want, both of them being in different dimensions that work as opposites of each other and the levels are designed to take advantage of this game mechanic so you're constantly having to change between characters. It's similar to the dark world mechanic in Zelda Link to the Past in that each dimension has slightly different elements and you have to use both to complete the game. An interesting mechanic is that the graphics and music change on the fly as you change between dimensions and the music in Punk Giana's dimension is a lot more rocked up by Machinae Supremacy and the music in Cute Giana's dimension is more mellow and synthesized to give it a less rocked feel. To me that's just ingenious game design and shows that strong focus can really help give a game a unique feel. I strongly recommend checking the game out and there's even a free demo of it available on Steam, though you can get it DRM-free at GOG.com as well.

12 Super Mario World

Super Mario World was a game that I played almost ridicilously much growing up. Simply because it was easy to play but hard to master, and a ton of fun. Coming home from school, I would often do my homework and then just spend the rest of the afternoon playing Super Mario World. And growing up the game remained one of my most played console games and to this day it's probably my favourite Mario game and the only one I ever really got into. Other Mario games I've always had a bit of a problem getting into since I am primarily a PC gamer and only have a pretty marginal interest in console games, but World definitely is the Mario game that I love the most. I would say it's pretty much the perfect Mario game to me and I think a lot of Mario fans can agree.

11 Balls of Steel

Balls of Steel is pretty much to me the most fun pinball game I've played. Inspired by the pinball cabinet displayed in Duke Nukem 3D, it was released by 3D Realms under their Pinball Wizards label and lets you actually play a pinball table based on Duke Nukem 3D. I play it mostly for the Duke Nukem table but the other tables are just as fun and I always keep it installed for some quick and dirty pinball fun whenever I need it. I've tried a lot of other pinball games over the years but none of them really felt as satisfying and fun as Balls of Steel and I just simply love the game to death. It's a shame it was the only pinball game ever released under 3D Realms/Apogee's Pinball Wizards label but it's also one of the best pinball games out there so... at least it has that going for it. You can get it at GOG.com these days and that's the version I recommend getting, although a boxed copy is pretty easy to find on eBay if you give it a few searches. Highly recommended if you want a fun pinball game that doesn't take a whole lot to get into. It might not be very accurate in terms of realism or simulation but you know what, it's fun as hell and that's what matters to me.

So that's it for now. Stay tuned for my follow up list which will contain my top 10 favourite games of all time! Feel free to leave comments below!

- Alyxx

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