Friday, September 4, 2009

Favorite Games 10-6

I said I might do one of these, and right now, I can't think of anything else to write, so here you go. Disclaimer: These are single-player games. This is not intended to be a list of the best games ever, it is a list of the ones that are most memorable and enjoyable to me.

10. The SSI Gold Box Series

Let's start at the beginning, back when my family had just gotten our first computer. It was a Packard Bell computer, with about 2 megs of ram, and about 125 megs of hard disk space. It ran Windows 3.1, and mostly existed for my dad's work, and the adult Sunday school lessons he taught. I loved everything about it. I loved Gorillas, the BASIC game similar to scorched earth. But this game was my first PC title, even though it was given to my dad one Christmas.

I mostly refer to Pool of Radiance, the first game in the series. The game was about a group of adventurers (you) who arrive in a town called Phlan. The town is a small settlement on the outskirts of a ruined city, and the start of your adventure is clearing out the ruined areas of the city. The game is still worth a look, even if you don't get a nostalgia trip out of it. It's a great AD&D sim, if nothing else. Hell, when I started it, I had no idea what 1d20 or THAC0 meant. To be fair, I'm still hazy on THAC0.

9. Heroes of Might and Magic

In particular, numbers 2 and 3. My friend Rich and I would play these games for hours. The general Idea of the game is you are a hero in command of an army. You capture various cities, and recruit troops for your army, and then go take over the rest of the world. HoMM is one of those "just one more turn" games, after which you look at the clock, and 3 hours have gone by.

Number one was good, but I missed it the first time around. Number two was awesome. Number 3 was the best. I like to pretend that they never made a HoMM 4. HoMM 5 was pretty, but just not as awesome as 3. That may be the Nostalgia Goggles talking, though.

In number 2, the map of choice was easily The Great War, a massive 6-player slugfest. Rich and I played that in Hotseat mode for hours on end. It's one of those childhood memories that I look back on quite fondly.

8. Battlezone II

This was the first game I got for our "new" Pentium II 450 mhz computer. It was at the same time, my first real FPS and RTS (I played things in a strange order). I often point to this game as a great example of genre-stretching. Back then, I often described this game as "Command and Conquer, except you get to drive." You play a soldier in the International Space Defense Force, fighting a conflict with the Scions, an alien race.

While the plot is certainly passable, it was the gameplay that really gave me the warm fuzzies. The game seamlessly blends FPS and RTS. You command the construction of buildings and units, all while piloting a vehicle of your choice in order to combat the scion forces. Brb, reinstalling.

7. Star Fox 64

Admittedly, there arent very many console games on my list, mostly because I didn't own a lot of consoles, and especially not in the eras they came out in. I got my first NES in a rummage sale for 3 dollars, and my N64 when it cost 25 bucks. But that's where friend's houses come in to the picture. Andy, Rich, and Drew, you know who you are if you actually click on links I send you, were more fortunate than I in the console department. Rich's N64 in particular saw a lot of use, between various 007 games, and spectator Ocarina of Time, and this game.

I loved this game, and it's still very playable today, thanks to its arcade-style gameplay. You can burn through the campaign in no time if you know what you're doing, but for some reason, it's always fun. There are multiple pathways you can take, adding to the replay value. For all the games that are serious business, this one has a kind of classic charm that is irresistible.

6. Chrono Trigger

I debated for a while between this game and Final Fantasy VI, but finally landed on this one. While FFVI is my favorite Final Fantasy game, this game trumps it fairly easily. It's the best JRPG I've ever seen, which is a bit worrisome, because it came out in 1995.

Where to begin? The story follows Crono, who is technically the protagonist, and 6 other unique characters, on a journey across the world and through several time periods, in order to stop a great evil, Lavos, from destroying the world. The game features multiple endings, and actions taken in the past will affect the future.

The battle system is something I continue to hold up as innovative and awesome. Gone are the random encounters with monsters when traversing the world map. You can see, and potentially avoid every encounter, meaning when all you want to do is go from point A to point B, you won't be interrupted by a random encounter. Environments are clever, the time travel and connections between the eras are well presented, and the whole game is pure awesome in a genre that has since lost its way.

Anyway, there's 10-6. 5-1 coming eventually.

1 comment:

  1. if you haven't, you should try secret of evermore, mati. it's mechanically identical to secret of mana, and it was made by an american branch of squaresoft. the music, which is amazing, was done by jeremy soule (morrowind, etc.) when he was nineteen, i think. some people fuss over how no two-player co-op exists, but the relationship you have with your pet dog sort of works the same way the relationship in shadow of the colossus works -- as in, your animal friend is the only constant besides yourself, so a little in-game bond develops. there are also several hilariously huge game-breaking glitches, which might be a positive or negative point, depending on who you are.

    it's funny how the best japanese rpgs tend to be the ones that are least like japanese rpgs -- which should say a lot about the basic problems the "genre" has (in addition to how complacent consumers, and how lazy developers, are).