Oh man this was a challenge.
We’ve come a long way in the gaming community. Its really amazing that the more advanced in technology we have become, the more sophisticated the games have become. However, when it all boils down, gameplay is still key. Remember when Pong was the best game? That was just 3 lines and a ball in front of a black screen and no one complained about that at the time.
We have a serious gaming paradox going on here, especially in the more mainstream games. Game developers are trying nowadays to produce the most realistic graphics and characters possible, but weren’t games SUPPOSED to do the exact opposite? Games were supposed to bring us into fantasy land with fictional characters and places where players could escape the reality around him or her. In trying to make the best games possible, most people have become spoiled with graphics, and judge games nowadays not on whether a game plays good or not, but whether a female character’s boobs bounce around when she walks because that implies realistic graphics.
A lot of these games are superlatives, meaning they are the best in their respected genre in my opinion and I can’t find any game to top them. A lot of these games are older ones too because they still can hold their own ground through time and space. The hardest part of this countdown was not listing the games, but figuring out the order. Anyway, here’s the countdown:
20. Tekken Tag Tournament (PS2) - Want to know what’s funny? Even though Tekken in my opinion is the best fighting game franchise, I enjoyed this game more for the bowling minigame than the fighting part. However, having a tag system was a great idea and something that hadn’t been done up until that point. If you have a friend who likes fighting games, I guarantee he’ll enjoy the idea of teaming up with you.
19. Tomb Raider 2 (PS One) - Talk about a game that never changes its style, Tomb Raider nowadays is boring and repetitive to me, but back then in the early days of the Playstation, Tomb Raider was fucken amazing. The first one roped me in, but the second installment will always be my favorite, especially since after that the game series started to go downhill. Tomb Raider 2 is one of the best action/exploring games I ever played and the levels are much more diverse than the first one. Its also one of the few games where I can say if you’re frustrated or Lara Croft doesn’t do what you tell her to, then you can always break her neck.
18. Mario Kart 64 (N64) - Before I played Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing like 12 years later, this WAS the best kart racing game I played. I still have to include it on my countdown because this game was a large part of my childhood and the replay value I got out of this game was tremendous. I raced everyone I could, including my friends and family, for months and months. I’ll always remember Mario Kart 64 as my first favorite kart racing game, especially since there really were no kart racing games at that point in time.
17. Teenage Mutant Ninjas Turtles: Turtles In Time (SNES/Arcade) - This is probably the shortest game on my countdown, but possibly the best game on my countdown to play with friends. This is the best game I played in the beat em up genre and it certainly is the fastest and smoothest of this category too. Its more fun in the arcade obviously because you can have up to 4 people. In fact, if you’re going to play this game, play it in the arcade (if its still around) because I guarantee you with the noise and atmosphere going on around you this is one of the best arcade experiences you will have.
16. Silent Hill 4 (PS2) - Before Fatal Frame, it was always a toss up for me whether Resident Evil or Silent Hill was the scariest game. While Resident Evil focused more on action, Silent Hill focused more on fucken the player up psychologically making Silent Hill a true scary game. Though all the Silent Hills were very good, 4 was my favorite because I loved how the apartment you lived in became more and more haunted as you progressed through the game. You never knew what or where something was going to pop out. Usuallly in a scary video game there’s at least one spot where you’re safe, but not in this one. Not even in your own apartment.
15. Tetris Attack (SNES) - For a puzzle game to make ANY countdown other than a puzzle countdown, it must be good, and Tetris Attack is the best and most addicting puzzle game I ever played. This game takes Yoshi and Mario’s enemies and have them battle it out by having you perform chains and combos in a tetris like setting to drop blocks on your opponents screen. Its simple. Its tetris with a twist and like I said, its surprisingly very addicting. I have a friend who I played this with when we were kids and both of us were so good sometimes our matches would go beyond the timer on the screen.
14. Super Mario 64 (N64) - How could you have a countdown like this and not include the first true, successful 3D game. Not only was this Mario in 3D, but it was a great game. Nintendo’s method of having players revisit the same levels over and over to find every last coin and star worked on me and everyone else I know as we spent months trying to collect all 120 stars. I will admit, Sonic may own Mario when it comes to kart racing and the “classic” series, but Mario owned Sonic in the 3D realm for the most part.
13. Goldeneye 007 (N64) - Hour upon hour of my childhood was spent in multiplayer mode shooting my friends and messing around with the cheat codes and bomb physics. I don’t regret any of those hours either. This was the first shooter I ever played and remains one of the best. Seriously. All you Halo and Call of Duty fans should worship and have a Goldeneye 007 appreciation day once a year.
12. Pokemon Red/Blue (GBC) - If you’re reading this and you’re above the age of thirteen, then don’t you dare fucken lie to me and say Pokemon wasn’t a part of your child. The Pokemon nowadays are retarded and don’t even look like what they should represent. Red and Blue is what made Pokemon the addicting RPG that it is today and these 150 will always be classic. Enough said.
11. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64) - What can’t or hasn’t been said about this masterpiece of a game. Hands down one of the best, if not the best, games on the N64. If you want a lengthy story filled with twists and turns, puzzles, heroic epicness, and a sexy horse to ride on, then look no further than Ocarina of Time. I will say this though. Fuck that annoying fairy and fuck the water temple.
10. Gran Turismo 4 (PS2) - The best of the GT series and easily the best racing simulation game series, I prefer 4 because it’s the one I remember playing the most with the introduction of 24 hour races and an insane amount of cups to play. Unlike the most recent Gran Turismo 5, most importantly, there was no leveling up system. In 4, you just went from one cup to the next without replaying the same cup over and over to level up. Leveling up in racing games is fucken stupid and that’s taking the RPG element a tad too far. Therefore, I like 4 the best of the GT series.
9. Fatal Frame 2 (PS2) - Not many people know about the Fatal Frame series so when I talk to people who actually have played it or at least heard of it, immediately I get an erection. I get rock hard with excitement. I chose Fatal Frame 2 in particular because this is by far the scariest game I have ever played. EVER. I dare you to play this alone in the dark and walk around in first person through the lens of a camera, waiting in anticipation for a deformed ghost to pop out of the wall. You know its coming. You can feel it, but you never know where they are coming from. There are no guns or metal pipes in this game. Oh no. You’re armed with just your wits and a camera. I often debate with my friend over which is scarier, Fatal Frame or Dead Space, and I can argue for Fatal Frame because of the lack of guns. This is survival horror at its finest. The atmosphere is bone chilling, the sound effects will leave you on the edge of your seat, the puzzles in this game are challenging and fair, and overall it’s a heart pounding game.
8. Donkey Kong Country 2 (SNES) - Donkey Kong Country was epic and revolutionary on the SNES in terms of graphics, gameplay, and platforming and DKC 2 expanded everything and made them better. Dixie was the most useful monkey of the bunch because she could fly so I always tried to keep her alive. The music in DKC2 is the best of all the DKC games and some of the best music in video game history. Just listen to Web Woods or Bramble Scramble if you want peace in your life.
7. Final Fantasy 9 (PS One) - When picking which Final Fantasy game to include on this countdown (because you can’t have a top video games ever countdown without including at least one final fantasy game), I immediately ruled out 10 because Tidus is gay. Tidus, Rikku and all the other annoying characters ruined what was an amazing experience. Final Fantasy 13’s battling mechanics were too complicated. I can’t remember a thing about 12 so it must not have stood out much to me and as for 11, any game where you have to pay to play online is a fucken gimmicky waste of money. Excuse me Microsoft. I’m not even that hardcore where I’d wanna pay to play online. So by default in my mind that left 7 and 9, and I picked 9 because I liked the crystal system to learn attacks and I liked that you could rename the characters. It is really a toss up though, but I like the storyline and characters in 9 over 7. But I think anyone who plays games knows how successful most of the Final Fantasy games are so the graphics, storyline, and music all speak for themselves.
6. Super Mario RPG (SNES) - Perhaps one of the few times I will admit Mario trumped Sonic is in the RPG department. Sonic Chronicles was just O.K when compared to Super Mario RPG, which was absolutely amazing in every aspect. If I had to pick a company to make an RPG for me, it would always have to be Squaresoft and what a job they did adapting Mario and his world into an RPG. I think that’s what made this game so revolutionary. Who would have ever though to take Mario and put him into an RPG and have it be so successful. The graphics of Super Mario RPG were extremely colorful and lively, all the characters, including Mallow, were funny and well-scripted (well accept Mario because he never talked), and the fact that you could fight with Bowser as your ally is probably one of the greatest turn of events in video game history. This is definitely one of the SNES’ best games and one of the best RPGs ever.
5. Kingdom Hearts 2 - Here’s a terrific idea: Let’s take the most popular characters in the history of Disney animation, put them together with the characters from the Final Fantasy game series, and have Squaresoft produce the game. Obviously they struck gold with this classic, which has a storyline that’s as mystical and magical as a Disney film itself. One of the best features of Kingdom Hearts is for the first time (at least I believe it’s the first time this ever had been done), unlike traditional RPGs where you remain fixed to a turn based attack system, in Kingdom Hearts you could run around and attack. I don’t believe Square had done this prior to Kingdom Hearts and it was genius. I liked Kingdom Hearts 2 better because the battling system had more combos and special attacks, as opposed to the first one where I felt like I was just pressing X the whole time. Don’t even get me started on the graphics and music. Like I said, its like watching Beauty and the Beast, except you’re playing it. On a side note, I am gravely disappointed they released Kingdom Hearts on the PSP and there’s no trace of any Kingdom Hearts 3 on the PS3. What the fuck Square? All that time producing it on the PSP you could have produced it on the PS3.
4. Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing (PS3) - This game has to be on this countdown because it’s the third fucken time I am talking about it. I’ll keep it brief though. Despite its occasional glitches, this is the smoothest kart racing experience you’ll ever have. The steering and drifting, especially, is what makes this the best kart racing experience. The races are fast and fun, the tracks are beautifully detailed and creative, and the online multiplayer, with its batch of interesting people, is what made this game amazing for me. I would put this ahead of Mario Kart any day.
3. Star Fox 64 (N64) - Controllers themselves may vibrate nowadays, but remember the first game used with the rumble pak? I loved feeling the N64 controller vibrate. Mix that with the action and intensity of constantly dodging lasers, bombs, and projectiles, and you have yourself Star Fox 64. This game actually made me feel like I was Fox in the cockpit of his arwing commanding a team of morons. As much as it was annoying to keep rescuing Slippy, I really enjoyed doing it because it made me feel like I was their leader. The zones did get repetitive though, because it was always the same layout where the same actions kept happening, but once you learned what to do, you could fly through each zone flawlessly. One thing I always found funny was that you always fly towards the planet of the level, but you never land on the planet. Except in all-range mode. The best part of the game for me was the all range levels were you battled Star Wolf. There were no laid out, pre-determined patterns there. Anything could happen during these 4 on 4 battles so you always had to keep an eye on your teammates. Overall, this is the best flight game I’ve ever played.
2. Sonic 3 and Knuckles (Genesis) - Sonic will always be my favorite gaming mascot (well Tails actually), but Tails isn’t the star of the Sonic games. Sonic is the star and Sonic 3 and Knuckles will always be remembered to me as the last and best in the ‘classic’ Sonic game series. Sonic was easily the best game on the Genesis and Sonic 3 and Knuckles took what made Sonic 1 and 2 great and expanded on everything, including the power ups, speed, and levels themselves. The layout for the special stages were the easiest in a Sonic game too. People may disagree on Sonic’s popularity and new games nowadays, but looking back I don’t think anyone could disagree Sonic was totally bad ass and beat the classic Mario games in every department.
1. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS One) - Sonic may always be my favorite gaming mascot, but Castlevania was always my favorite game series dating back to Castlevania 1 and 3 on the NES. Not 2 though. Castlevania 2 was a failed science experiment. What drew me into Castlevania, as funny as it sounds, was not the action or platforming, but the music. Castlevania’s music on the NES, for that 8-bit era, was so good for its time and made the game much more enjoyable. Castlevania was also hard as fuck though. Castlevania 4 on the SNES was very good, as was bloodlines on the Genesis. Castlevania on the N64 failed however. Then came Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on the Playstation and holy shit were my balls blown away. Castlevania decided to take on my favorite genre, which is RPG, and the amount of swords, shields, items, clothing, and accessories you could find was just insane. The entire game was one giant puzzle of a castle where you needed keys and magic spells to unlock doors to get to other parts of the castle. The castle and game were so big that once you beat it the right way, the castle flips around and you have to beat the whole game upside down. Imagine that. Imagine finally beating Mario or Sonic only to do it again upside down. Leveling up was very fun and it was nice to see that they brought back enemies from the classic Castlevania games. The soundtrack was very good and orchestrated well and the music during the boss battles was fucken rocken. Overall, this style of Castlevania is one I really liked and its rare for me to adjust so well to a game when it changes its style. This game shows, or showed anyway at that time, that people like me are easy to please. Sometimes, its not all about the graphics because what’s the point of having amazing graphics if the gameplay sucks. I’m all about the gameplay, not graphics, and this is a game that plays the best even today in a world where we’ve become spoiled with graphics. Funny thing is game developers must be realizing this too because all the classic gaming franchises seem to have gone back to 2D this past year, proving gameplay trumps graphics.