Archive for the ‘My Top 8’ Category

top-8-2017I’d considered doing a post about the best games of 2016, but honestly, not much grabbed my attention in 2016. As a matter of fact, I have played exactly zero of the games on Metacritic’s Top 100 of 2016. That said, 2017 already has a handful of games I’m pumped for. This is my personal Top 8 so far, with the only caveat being that there has to be firm information available about a game for it to have made this list.

injustice-28. Capcom versus Marvel Infinite / Injustice 2
I’m not a fan of fighting games, but both of these titles have caught my eye. Admittedly, it’s almost solely due to the rosters that are likely to be included in these games, but both are sequels to games that have been generally well received and, should I pick up a fighting game this year, it will be one of these two titles. I’ve also long wished I could really get into a fighting game, so maybe the time is right with one of these two.

prey7. Prey
Of the games on my list, this is the one that we know the least about. Still, what little we do know has me very excited. I’m quite the fan of games that give you an open world, limited only by the abilities you’ve acquired, which is exactly how the developers have described this title. I also like the promise of a strong narrative with some horror elements. I’ll admit to never having played the original Prey, but it doesn’t seem like this is a direct sequel. This game could work its way off my list as more info is made available but, for the moment, I choose to remain positive.

nioh6. Nioh
Nioh has a few aspects that appeal to me. I’m always a sucker for a good hack’n slash game, and that’s exactly how Nioh has been described. I’m also drawn to the idea of a dark fantasy version of 1600 Japan. The fact that this title includes some RPG elements doesn’t hurt it either. Much like Prey, I could still waffle on this title, but for the time being, if I have some extra funds in the early part of the year, I may very well be picking this game up.

re-vii5. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
RE4, in my opinion, is the high bar for the RE series to date. RE5 kept the play style of RE4, but wanted to be more of an action game. It was so mediocre that I’ve avoided RE6 to date. RE7 has my hopes high though. What has been shown of the game looks creepy. RE creepy. The first person perspective, a perspective I’m normally critical of, looks to work extremely well with the environment/setting of RE7, a dilapidated plantation in LA (I live in the south and still find that disturbing). I’m really, really hopeful that RE7, with a new cast and storyline, will bring back what made the Resident Evil franchise so well known and popular for so long.

yooka-laylee4. Yooka-Laylee
A game inspired by and considered a spiritual sequel to games such as Donkey Kong 64 and Banjo-Kazooie/Banjo-Tooie that has even been developed by former employees of Rare that worked on these past games. Really, I shouldn’t even have to write anything else here. So-called collectathons have fallen out of style, but were very common (and much loved) during the N64/PS1 era. They appeal to my personality type, so I could never get enough of them. Also, to this day, DK64 and B-K are a couple of my favorite games. Picking up a game that plays like those, but updated for this era is a no-brainer.

horizon-zero-dawn3. Horizon Zero Dawn
Horizon Zero Dawn simply looks beautiful. I want to play it just to wander around the game world. The fact that there’s a story, large mechanical dinosaurs, and side-quests are gravy. HZD is an Action RPG, which is my absolute favorite genre of video games (JRPGs are a close second), set in a post-apocalyptic world that finds you essentially on your own against monstrous machines, with multiple ways in which to defeat them. I don’t often take risks on new games, but this is one title I’ll be pre-ordering very soon. It looks that good.

zelda-botw2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Zelda games seldom disappoint, but after Skyward Sword, there were growing cries for the Zelda formula to be shaken up. Enter Breath of the Wild. This looks like a Zelda game that would have been designed by Monolith Soft or Bethesda. It is an open world title that lets you tackle it in any way you see fit. Hyrule is in ruins. Link has been asleep for quite some time. Calamity Ganon has decimated the land, and is now sealed in Hyrule castle as he could not be defeated, yet his power continues to grow. That’s your story, and how you progress is entirely up to you. How you complete the game is so arbitrary that Eiji Aonuma (producer) has stated that you can complete the game without actually playing through the story. Nintendo has made some missteps with their console development, but their ability to develop excellent games has never been called into question. Breath of the Wild looks to be yet another jewel in Nintendo’s game development crown.

nier-automata1. NieR: Automata
Yes, that’s right. If given a choice right now between Breath of the Wild and Automata, I would take NieR. Understand, I adored the first Nier. I completed it four times to see all of the narrative the title had to offer. I never expected to see a sequel, even a non-direct sequel, so the announcement of NieR: Automata caught me completely by surprise, and my excitement for it has only grown since that announcement, and has now reached a fervor since I played through the demo this morning. Playing much like the original Nier, with the added bonus of having Platinum Games on board handling the combat, Automata takes place much later in the same world as Nier. Machines have driven mankind to the moon, and androids have been sent to do battle with the machines. It is these androids that you will control (with “2B” apparently being the primary character). In regards to the narrative, Nier (and Drakengard, from which it originates) are noted for dark storylines, and I expect nothing less from Automata. It is the story that hooked me on Nier so completely. It may not always be happy, but it is deep and engrossing, and I will happily take a deep, dark story over a shallow, happy one anyday. It’s going to be a long wait until 3/7/2017.

 

From the grave

Almost Made It: de Blob, Okami, F-Zero, Ecco the Dolphin, Bubble Bobble, Contra, Mana, Startropics, R-Type, Adventure Island
Not Franchises, but Need a Sequel: Ghosthunter, Sphinx & the Cursed Mummy, Dante’s Inferno, The Wonderful 101, Enslaved

Legacy of Kain8. Legacy of Kain
Last Entry – Legacy of Kain: Defiance (2003)
Legacy of Kain began life as an overhead styled game called Blood Omen for the Playstation, where you played as newly minted vampire, Kain. While popular, its sequel, Soul Reaver, is where the series truly pulled me in. It was the Ocarina of Time to Blood Omen’s A Link to the Past (strictly in regards to game style). It also began the story that would permeate the remaining entries in the series, which ended with Defiance in 2003. The problem is, Defiance didn’t exactly wrap the story up. Oh, there’s an ending, but there are threads for future stories that have yet to come. The only news available for Legacy since 2003 is an MMO Game called Nosgoth that was ultimately shut down. It was only mildly related to the overall series, and was not developed by Crystal Dynamics. Considering the popularity of the Legacy of Kain series, it is surprising that it has remained dormant this long, but those of us that are still fans of the games still hope to see a more definitive ending to Kain (and Raziel’s) journey in Nosgoth.

Blaster Master7. Blaster Master
Last Entry – Blaster Master: Overdrive (2010)
If you don’t know Blaster Master, stop reading this blog, go find a copy (check the Virtual Console/eShop), and play it. Then come back. Everyone else knows Blaster Master. You play through an open world via a side-scrolling/overhead shooter hybrid style. You’re goal? To get your frog back and stop some radioactive mutants from taking over the Earth. Blaster Master is a classic that saw entries on the Sega, GBC, Playstation, and a remake via WiiWare (which is pretty darn good, FYI) and has been praised for level design as well as seamlessly merging separate game styles into one game. Aside from the remake, the last actual sequel was the PS entry Blaster Master: Blasting Again, released in 2001, which received average reviews (but which I thoroughly enjoyed). Blaster Master is a franchise that is so well know that I’m rather amazed that nothing new has been developed since 2010. The gameplay style(s) scream 3DS. Still, sadly, it seems that there is currently nothing on the horizon for this beloved series. *Note: Blaster Master received a wonderfully corny Worlds of Power adaptation. If you can find a copy, I strongly suggest reading it.

Baldur's Gate6. Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance
Last Entry – Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance 2 (2004)
I realize that Baldur’s Gate is hardly a forgotten series, but I’m speaking specifically of the Dark Alliance series developed for consoles. As I’m not much of a PC gamer, Dark Alliance was my only foray into the world of Baldur’s Gate, and I loved it. Dark Alliance is an overhead hack and slash RPG with character selection. The original was extremely well received, even winning a Role-Playing Game of the Year Award. The sequel was also acclaimed, though it was noted that it added very little to the gameplay of the original. The primary reason I feel this series needs a new entry is that the second title ended on a cliff hanger. You’re shown that someone has been working against you behind the scenes, yet you’re not shown who it was. It also stings that a third title was in development but cancelled solely due to legal issues. Every now and again, news crops up on a Dark Alliance 3, but it’s generally just wishful thinking or unsubstantiated rumors. I still hold out hope though, that I’ll one day get to play through the conclusion of the story from Dark Alliance and Dark Alliance 2.

Darksiders5. Darksiders
Last Entry – Darksiders II (2012)
Really? 2012? It seems so much longer. Regardless, Darksiders burst onto the scene in 2010, bringing us an apocalyptic Zelda-esque title. You play as War, the horsemen, who has been summoned by someone, and is accused of beginning the Apocalypse early. You’re then given a chance to prove your innocence and find the true culprits. While the story does give you answers, it never feels finished, and the ending scene hints at the arrival of the remaining three horsemen. Darksiders II takes place concurrently, placing you in the role of Death, and opens up more of the story of the franchise. Since then, we’ve been left to wonder exactly what became of the four horsemen at the end of the original game. Development of a sequel has most likely been held up by the selling of the license due to a bankruptcy. This franchise came to mind for two main reasons: the plot is surprisingly deep, and the gameplay is both varied and familiar between the two titles. There is also the fact that the other two horsemen, Strife and Fury, have not (yet) been playable characters. I’m excited to see their interpretation in the franchise, and how the gameplay will be adapted to their “powers.” Recent news regarding Nordic Games (the owners of multiple THQ licenses), seems to indicate that the wait for Darksiders III may not be that long.

Lufia4. Lufia
Last Entry – Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals (2010)
Lufia was one of the premier RPG’s on the Super NES, before finding a home on the Gameboy/DS systems, but has been quiet since Curse of the Sinistrals (DS) in 2010, itself being a remake of Lufia 2 (Super NES). The fact that Lufia remains knows is even more surprising when you consider that it has received no eShop/digital distribution of the original titles. The franchise is running solely on the fact that it was so good on the Super NES (the DS remake was just average). This is a series that could benefit greatly by returning to its roots via a 3DS title. Speaking strictly of feasibility, I can’t imagine a full-fledged console Lufia title simple because the budget would be insane, hence a smaller title on a handheld. I’m sad to say that I missed out on Lufia for the most part, and would jump at a chance to play the originals or even a proper sequel. With any luck, Neverland hasn’t forgotten this gem of a series.

Mega Man X23. Mega Man X
Last Entry – Mega Man X8 (2005)
If you don’t know what Mega Man X is, see my note on Blaster Master above. Mega Man X is Mega Man’s cooler, older brother. Keeping the conventions of the original series, robot masters, excellent platforming, multiple weapons, Mega Man X added enough new aspects to seem familiar, but not identical. Like many side-scrollers, Mega Man X fell out of favor as 3-D gameplay became the new norm. The one foray in 3-D for Mega Man X was…disappointing at best. Mega Man X8 was somewhat of a return to form, but something still felt a bit off from the initial titles. While the original Mega Man series saw two “old school” sequels released digitally (both being very good), Mega Man X has continued to be MIA in terms of a new title since the release of X8. Capcom could please many people by taking the Mega Man 9/10 route with X and designing an X9 that looked and played much like X – X3 on the Super NES. After the success of Mega Man 9/10, I’m actually still shocked that X9 hasn’t come down the pipeline. It’s simply hard to believe it wouldn’t be a success. Mega Man is a beloved icon. A new game in the X series should be a given at this point.

Metroid2. Metroid
Last Entry – Metroid: Other M (2010)
First of all, Federation Force is not a Metroid game. Yes, it has the title, but it has no Samus Aran. It is not a Metroid game. We will not discuss this further. Anyways, Metroid is one of Nintendo’s golden franchises, and has been universally acclaimed with virtually every release (Other M being the exception to the rule). At this point, the future of Metroid is very cloudy. I’m certain there will be a proper sequel, but I have no clue if it will go the route of Fusion/Zero Mission, or take the FPS style of the Prime series. Either would be welcome by fans of the Metroid series. Other M left a bad taste in the mouths of most Metroid fans, and one has to wonder if it’s negative reception isn’t what has caused Nintendo to step away from Metroid for a six years. If that’s truly the case, Nintendo need only to look at Fusion or Prime 3 to see that the series has had only one hiccup in its entire history. One misstep is not enough reason to shelve a premier series that features a game that many consider to be one of the two or three best games ever made (the fact that you’re not sure if I’m speaking of Super Metroid or Metroid Prime speaks to the high quality of Metroid titles). Metroid turns 30 years old this year. Nintendo has remained silent on this fact. I’m hopeful that they’re saving something for the NX reveal but, despite my normal optimism, I’m not holding out much hope in this case.

Castlevania1. Castlevania
Last Entry – Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 (2014) / Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (2008)
I must clarify here. I’m speaking not of the reboot Lords of Shadow series, but of the original series, which last saw an entry in 2008 with Order of Ecclesia. Until Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, the Castlevania series was know for level based platforming. Symphony of the Night adopted a style similar to Metroid, featuring an open world that became more accessible via the collection of abilities or items, coining the Metroidvania term for this type of game style. Symphony of the Night was so extremely popular that virtually all Castlevania titles from that point on adopted the same style, excepting some 3-D titles that received mixed reviews, but which I enjoyed. Yet, despite each successive title being similar in style, the design of each game managed to feel fresh and new each time. In 2013, the series was re-imagined for the Lords of Shadow series, going from open world platformer to a 3-D level based game. The Lords of Shadow games are fine games, but titles such as Dawn of Sorrow and Order of Ecclesia scratched an itch that few other games relieve. Castlevania made #1 on this list because I’m skeptical that we’ll ever see another title that matches the quality the series was once know for, if another title at all. Konami has publicly stated that they are shifting focus to mobile games, meaning that Castlevania may be put on the shelf for quite some time. There is a glimmer of hope though. Long time Castlevania producer, IGA, has developed Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night for all current consoles. Due out in March of 2017, Bloodstained is described by IGA himself as a spiritual successor to Castlevania and is using the Metroidvania style. I’m certain I’ll download this title, but it still makes me sad to think that we may have realistically seen our last Belmont. Our last Castlevania.

My Top 8 WiiU Games

Posted: May 2, 2016 in Current Gaming, My Top 8

WiiU

With the impending demise of the WiiU, I decided that it made no sense to wait any longer to write this post. I do so with a heavy heart.

Always a Bridesmaid: Splatoon, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Bayonetta 2, Pikmin 3, Mario Maker, Pokken Tournament, Yoshi’s Wooly World

Hyrule Warriors8. (tie) Hyrule Warriors
No, this isn’t a Zelda game proper, but it is still quite a bit of fun. Modeled after the Dynasty Warriors series, this title weaves together lands from different Zelda games along with characters from each into a surprisingly strong narrative. The gameplay can be redundant for those that aren’t fans of the hack’n slash genre, but I found it to be a joy. It also helps matters that the multiple characters you can play as each attack differently, and are just unique enough to make playing as them feel like a different experience. Not the deepest gaming experience ever, but still a strong game that has enough to seek quite a few hours into. (Full Review)

Smash Brothers8. (tie) Smash Brothers
Right off, I am not a fan of fighting games. Most people would rank this game much higher, but as well made as it is, I just couldn’t put it over the other games on that list. And, even with my reservations, this is a very fun game. It is well balanced, features stages from past entries, and has enough characters that it would take dozens of hours to master each of them. The biggest negative for me was the lack of a story mode after what I felt was a standout feature of the previous entry (the Subspace Emissary). Had this entry featured a story mode even close to that, it may have been enough to catapult it up a couple of spots.

Lego City Undercover7. Lego City Undercover
I like the Lego games anyway, but this WiiU exclusive may have been the best one I’ve played yet. Featuring an original story set in Lego City, you’ll find yourself in an open world with a main story to play through, while also hunting collectibles, completing side-quests, and exploring the large map. Undercover also utilizes the WiiU Gamepad to give you reports and direction from your dispatch at the police station. The only knock against this game is the rather long loading times when you start the game up. I understand this is done so that you can travel seamlessly throughout the city, but it does get a bit repetitive when it happens after cut-scenes and story events. Still, even with that one bother, this is an extremely fun game that I would highly recommend for any WiiU owner.

Mario 3D World6. Super Mario 3D World
While I would have preferred an entry more in the mold of the Galaxy games, Mario 3D World is still a very strong game, though I think others like it a bit more than I do. 3D World is almost like an expansion of the 3DS title 3D Land, except with sharper graphics. This isn’t a bad thing, as 3D Land was a very fun game. Plus, the leaf. 3D World also introduces the Bell powerup, letting you don a cat costume and pounce enemies and climb up walls. There is also a new Cherry power-up that gives you a clone. The design of 3D World is superb, and the new power-ups, along with the standards (fire flower, giant mushroom) are utilized in puzzles in very intriguing ways. 3D World suffers a bit, in my opinion, from over-expectations after the amazing Galaxy 2 entry on the Wii. Judged on its own merits, this is an extremely good game, and continues the tradition of of great Mario platforming titles. (Full Review)

Mario Kart 85. Mario Kart 8
At this point, it’s hard to say very much about the newest Mario Kart entry. It’s everything we’ve come to expect from the series. Brilliant track design, a multitude of characters and karts to pick from, and rehashed tracks from past Mario Kart titles. Sometimes, being predictable can be a bad thing, but that is not the case for Mario Kart. The 8th entry is tons of fun, and offers no negatives that I could see. Nintendo also published DLC for the title, adding both new and old tracks, as well as Zelda and Animal Crossing themed tracks (along with a playable Link and Villager). This helped keep the game fresh, and meant that you could play it again and again and never have to race the same track twice. Usually, an 8th entry would be bad for any series (Mega Man anyone?), but Mario Kart most definitely does not fall into that trap. (Full Review)

Tropical Freeze4. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
I was a little disappointed when it was revealed that Retro Studios was working on another Donkey Kong entry instead of Metroid or another IP, but, as with everything Retro touches, the result was pure gold. Tropical Freeze brings back the top notch platforming design of Donkey Kong Country Returns while letting you play as Dixie Kong and Cranky Kong (a first for the series), as well as Donkey and Diddy Kong, taking on a gang of pirates that have overtaken Donkey Kong Isle, freezing it in the process. Each character has their own advantages (Dixie’s floating ability, Cranky’s pogo cane/Scrooge McDuck impression), and some levels are made much easier by using one character over another. And, by much easier, I mean slightly less hard. This game, like its predecessor, is tough. Still, while being difficult, it never feels unfair. Every mistake I made felt like my own mistake, not something the game was doing to me. This is a fine line to toe, and Tropical Freeze nails it. (Full Review)

NSMBU3. New Super Mario Brothers U
I’m one of the very, very few people that will put this title above 3-D World, but I have always preferred Mario’s side-scrolling adventures, and this entry is top-notch. NSMBU uses the contiguous world map first introduced in Super Mario World, and has you trying to return to Princess Peach’s castle after Bowser attacks it and kicks Mario and company out. NSMBU allows 4 players at a time, just like the Wii entry, meaning hours of frantic play with friends. It also introduces the Acorn power-up, which allows you to float/fly, and is my personal favorite power-up since the Leaf or Feather, while retaining the more classic power-ups (you can also get a couple of power-ups after completing the game that are otherwise unavailable). Also, as with virtually all Mario games, the level design is amazing, and the boss battles with the Kooplings each feature a unique twist that differentiates them from past games. Some people may find this an overstatement, but I felt this was the strongest side-scrolling Mario entry since Mario World. It is truly that good.

Wonderful 1012. The Wonderful 101
Few games defy categorization the way that The Wonderful 101 does. It is, essentially, an action game. You control a group of super heroes, the Wonderful Ones, that move and attack en masse. Utilizing the gamepad, you can draw certain shapes and the heroes will form a weapon out of their bodies and attack (sword, whip, bomb, etc…). This makes no sense when put into words, but it works beautifully. As you progress through the game, you will add new heroes, some of which will add new weapon abilities. Also, at certain points in the game, you will have to take on different styles of gameplay (such as a SCHMUP section). This variety simply makes the game more appealing. The story behind the game, that the Earth is being attacked by aliens (GEATHJERK), is also very intriguing, at times, sad, dramatic, and humorous. Also, this game is tough. It looks very “kiddy,” but don’t let that you fool you. It pulls no punches, and if you don’t master the combat, you’re in for a rough ride. That said, once you do get the controls down, this is an amazingly rewarding experience. (Full Review)

Xenoblade1. Xenoblade Chronicles X
Ending exactly like my Wii list, Xenoblade is my personal top WiiU game. This is such a strong game that I would have purchased a WiiU just to play it alone. The game plays much like the original Wii title, your party (up to 4) explores the world, though this game features an open world limited only by your current abilities. Attacking is initiated by approaching enemies. Your characters will attack automatically, while you can supplement attacks via the use of Arts. Where this game differentiates itself is through the use of Skells, giant mechs that, once you’ve put a few hours into the game, you’ll be able to board and control in battle. You can supplement them by purchasing new weapons, or purchase entirely new skells, both for yourself or for your team. This sounds like a simple gimmick, but it changes how you approach the game, and offers a risk/reward situation as your skell can be destroyed. I feel that the only aspect of this game that is weaker than its predecessor is the narrative. Xenoblade Chronicles had a driving narrative which I found very powerful. This title sacrifices that a bit, possibly to allow for the open world environment. Still, that is only a minor quibble. Xenoblade Chronicles X is a stellar title, and, I believe, the best game available on the WiiU.

Final Fantasy

When I found out that this is considered JRPGJuly, I knew that I had to do this Top 8 post, though I’m just considering RPGs as a whole, not the subset of JRPGs. The definition of an RPG varies from person to person. In the very broadest sense, Super Mario Brothers could be considered an RPG (you are playing a role, come on). For my purposes here, I’m arbitrarily defining an RPG as a game that includes both a leveling system and a magic system. For further reading on defining the RPG, I highly recommend this stellar piece by Ace Blogger and My Little Pony enthusiast, Jed Pressgrove.

Zelda 28. Zelda II: Adventure of Link (NES)
Zelda 2 is usually derided for being too different and for having a high level of difficulty. The criticisms are fair as this game is quite different from the original and can be very unforgiving. The overhead navigation is still present, but cave/town/temple exploration and all combat takes place on a 2-D plane. Unlike many people, I’ve always enjoyed the change-up from the first game and learned to deal with the difficulty curve years ago. What I like most about this game though, is that it has always felt like a true adventure to me. Hyrule is quite large in this game and contains multiple towns to visit and temples to conquer. There are also numerous caves containing story related items and health/magic increases to be found. As this Zelda title introduced experience, limited leveling abilities, and surprisingly useful magic spells, I feel that it is fair to include it here, given my parameters. I also maintain to this day that this game is underrated and is superior to the original Legend of Zelda.

Ys7. Ys: Ark of Napishtim (PS2)
The Ys series has always fascinated me, so I took a chance on this title and was rewarded with a deep and satisfying game experience. Ark of Napishtim features a vast land for your to explore, even if said exploration is a bit linear in where you can travel at any given time. Ark is also an action RPG, in which you attack enemies directly with your sword, a mechanic made more interesting with the inclusion of elementally charged swords that you’ll find yourself swapping out frequently to take advantage of an enemies weakness. This is very important as Ark is a very difficult game. Enemies and bosses pull no punches and if you do try to wander into a new area that you should not yet be in, you’ll find yourself being decimated by enemies that you can’t hope to combat yet. Still though, the difficulty curve never feels unfair. No boss feels impossible, it’s simply a matter of learning their attack patterns and recognizing telegraphed moves so you can dodge them before launching your own attacks. If you, like me, are a fan of the action RPG genre, I strongly suggest you pick up this title, as well as one of it’s sequels (Oath in Felghana is very similar in style to Ark).

Platinum6. Pokemon Platinum (NDS)
This was a close call, but I believe that Platinum is just a bit more well designed than the Black/White games. That said, it is another Pokemon game. I’m not sure how the same premise can still feel fresh, entry after entry, but Platinum (as well as the entries I’ve played since this title launched) pulls it off. There are a ton of Pokemon to catch, allowing you numerous choices in shaping your team, and the game region is a blast to explore. It’s a very well made Pokemon game that continues to deliver for the series. I have to say that I find it amazing that a series that truly lives on a very simple and repeatable premise still thrives as this one does. It is a testament to the designers that these titles still sell the way they do.

Fable 25. Fable 2 (Xbox 360)
No game could possibly live up to the hype that Molyneux created for the Fable games but, if you can look past that hype, Fable 2 is truly a great game. While the moral choices are fairly black and white, the story and gameplay are extremely well done and well implemented, allowing you to play through the game in a way that you are most comfortable with. The ability to purchase houses and buildings returns from the original Fable, as does the ability to take multiple wives and set them up in different villages. I may or may not have lived vicariously through my character in this regard… Few games have caused me to linger around in the game world, doing odd jobs and tasks, just to avoid finishing the game and being done with the experience. This is one of the games that did so, which may be the best compliment I can pay this title.

Secret of Evermore4. Secret of Evermore (Super NES)
My recent playthrough of this title only served to confirm to me that my love of it has nothing to do with nostalgia. It is just a damn good game. It is an action RPG in the vein of an overhead Zelda title, only with a leveling and magic system. Speaking of the magic system, I’ve always felt it was very creative. Each spell requires two ingredients which you either buy or find in your travels (your dog can sniff them out). It was an interesting twist on the MP system we normally see in such games. As for the gameplay/story, you control a young boy warped to the land of Evermore, where you’ll travel through the land searching for a way to get you and your dog home. Oddly enough, I prefer this game to Secret of Mana, a game that I consider this a spiritual sibling to, as they share very similar gameplay. I find that it is a tighter experience with a better story and improved gameplay.

NIER3. NIER (Xbox 360)
If you’ve been following this blog or my Twitter account, you already know of my love for this quirky title. While NIER may not excel at everything it attempts to do, its parts come together brilliantly. No other game I’ve played uses the variety of play styles that NIER does, ranging from straight forward combat to sequences that are reminiscent of bullet hell games to a full-on text adventure. Accompanying the gameplay is a story that grabs your heartstrings and refuses to let go, long after you’ve finished the game and seen all four of the available endings. No mention of this game would be complete without referencing a soundtrack that is easily among the best ever included in a video game (and my personal favorite). Rarely will I praise and recommend a game this heavily, but NIER is a game that needs to be played to be fully appreciated. What it has can’t be adequately appreciated by reading a review or watching a few YouTube videos.

FFVI2. Final Fantasy VI (Super NES)
This was the first Final Fantasy I ever played, but I don’t think that is what makes me adore it so much. This game still stands up today against newer RPG’s and holds its own easily. It is truly hard for me to find a negative. The story is as in-depth and involved as any game I’ve come across. The soundtrack is great, and includes the classic Final Fantasy victory theme. Also, for a game that features around 16 playable characters, they rotate in and out enough that being under-leveled is never an issue. Even on the occasions that you must grind a bit, there is a bonus to doing so on the Veldt where one character can leave with the enemies and come back having learned new special attacks from them. Finally, no mention of this game is complete without acknowledging that Kefka is one of (possibly number one here) the most devious and malevolent video game villains ever created. Oh, and he actually succeeds in his plans. That doesn’t happen often.

Xenoblade1. Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii)
For many years, I never thought that an RPG could top Final Fantasy VI in quality. Then Xenoblade Chronicles finally made its way to American shores. There is no way I couldn’t put this game at the top of my list. Xenoblade Chronicles is simply an amazing game. Xenoblade is an epic RPG that will run you around 60 hours if you sprint through it. Reaching the level cap and doing virtually everything in the game will extend it to about 130 hours. Personally, I spent 176 hours playing this game, a total unmatched by any story driven game (by which I mean a game that has an ending and isn’t sports based) simply because I enjoyed it so much that I didn’t want to finish it. Xenoblade tasks you with traveling over the Bionis, a dormant giant on which, along with the Mechonis, civilization lives, on a mission of vengeance. As you travel you will gather new party members that can be rotated in and out of your three person party (though all members will receive experience to avoid uneven leveling). Battles are not random as you can see your enemies and approach them to initiate a battle. Once a battle starts, your character will auto-attack while you freely move them about the battlefield, even running away to disengage if you wish. The auto-attacks are supported by special skills that you can select for the character you control (the other two are AI controlled). Along with what I found to be a unique battle system, the landscapes for this game are breathtaking and are some of the best, if not the best, you will see on the Wii. The aspect that completely pulled me into this game, and boosts it to this spot is the story. Once the actual story began (about four hours in), I was completely hooked and invested in these characters. The best way I can describe it is as a book that you read until 2:00 a.m. because you simply can’t bear to stop. I will go so far as to say this game has my favorite narrative of any game I’ve played. There are multiple twists to the story, some I expected and others that completely blindsided me. I do realize that I am a story-centric guy, but I can’t imagine anyone that takes the time to experience the story in this game coming away unimpressed. It is simply stellar.

 

With Mario Kart 8 being released for the WiiU recently, I think we all knew that a “My Top 8” based on the series would be coming soon. This was tougher than I thought it would be, and pretty much all tracks prior to Mario Kart 64 were ignored. It’s not that they are bad, it’s that the limitations of the consoles meant that they just couldn’t compare with later tracks in the series. Mario Kart 8 is also missing an entry here, but I haven’t had very much time with the game just yet.

Close, but no points: Bowser’s Castle (MK64), Twisted Mansion (MK8), Mario Circuit 3 (SMK), Music Park (MK7), Maple Treeway (MKWii), Peach Gardens (MKDS)

8. Kalimari Desert (MK64)
I will always love this track for two reasons. The first is the star & train tunnel shortcut you could pull off. The second, and the main reason, is the fact that if you time it just right, you can break the rubber band effect of the other racers at the first railroad crossing. It was very freeing to be able to jet around the track without the other racers artificially catching you. I would regularly catch the last four racers or so and lap them. I owned this track.

7. Wario’s Goldmine (MKWii)
I can’t say exactly why I love this track, but I do. I think it’s the varied portions of the track as well as the side tunnel shortcut that you can take, provided the mine carts aren’t in your way.

6. Baby Park (MK: DD)
This is an amazingly frantic track. And the fact that you go more than three laps and someone is always nearby because of the tight quarters only add to the chaos going on. This is a track I would love to see revisited in a future entry. Online play on this track would be unreal.

5. Delfino Square (MKDS)
I’m one of those racers that love to cut right to the edge and enjoy tracks with many tight curves. Delfino Square is definitely one of those tracks. There’s rarely a moment that I’m not drifting at this track. Along with the numerous tight turns are the small alleys you race through, magnifying the danger of thrown items or banana peels.

4. Yoshi Valley (MK64)
I don’t believe there is any other track in the Mario Kart series that can offer what Yoshi Valley offers. There is truly no correct way to go around this track. I think I’ve found the quickest routes, but I’ll probably never be sure. Revisiting this track in Mario Kart 8 reminded me of just how much fun the structure of it was. I’d love to see another track that approaches races in this manner.

3. Waluigi Stadium (MK: DD)
The stadium tracks are always some of my favorites, but I think this one may be the best. Even with a very large track to cover, it still manages to be chaotic, constantly throwing obstacles in your way. Combine that with the other racers trying to take you out, and you have a great recipe for an amazing race.

2. Airship Fortress (MKDS)
This is another case of not being entirely sure of why I love this track so much. I think it’s the shifting background and track styles. You always feel like you’re in danger simply from your surroundings. I just know that every time I race on this track, I have a blast.

1. Rainbow Road (MK64)
In my mind, this is the granddaddy of all Rainbow Road courses, even if it wasn’t the first. It’s extremely long, full of opportunities to go flying off, and rolling balls to completely throw you off. My goal at this track was always to see how far ahead I could get. I don’t think I broke the rubber band effect here, but it did sometimes seem that way as I could generally get a very nice lead. This track also satisfied my itch to have races longer than just three laps. Yes, this was still a three lap race, but it felt much, much longer.

Battletoads

Rarely do you find the game that doesn’t have some section that just doesn’t feel designed well. No matter how much you enjoy the game, you just can’t enjoy that one part. This list goes a bit further than that though. This list is about those sections that make you shake your head and wonder exactly how they were allowed to exist in the first place. The order here isn’t really based on the games themselves, but by the sections and their general offensiveness when compared to the rest of the game.

Ninja Gaiden8. Ninja Gaiden (NES) – Birds
Do I have to explain this one? The programmers of this game were just sadistic. You’ve fought through a level, navigated absurdly difficult obstacles and annoying enemies. You have one last jump to make so you leap…and a perfectly timed bird appears on screen and knocks you backwards, down the hole you were attempting to leap over. Life gone, restart the level. What made this even worse is the fact that lives and continues were limited on the NES Ninja Gaiden games. Losing a life actually meant something in this game, and I often found myself losing more than a few by plummeting down a hole thanks to these carefully placed irritants.

Dead Space7. Dead Space (Xbox 360) – Zero G Basketball
I adore Dead Space. I’ve never played a more atmospheric and creepy game. I dreaded every corner and every new room, yet couldn’t stop myself from moving ever forward. That said, why in the world does a basketball game show up? I’m enjoying the game wonderfully, honing my skills, and then, out of nowhere, I find that I need to learn some odd mechanics to sink a few baskets and proceed. It isn’t even that the game is all that challenging. Yes, it is annoying, but still passable. It’s more that it breaks up the flow of the game. It would be like RE4 requiring you to kick a few soccer goals on an empty field. It’s just filler. Also, to make it worse, there’s actually an achievement for this game, which forces you to actually get good at it. I have to also point out that this is an optional portion of the game, but it’s inclusion still mystifies me.

Mario Galaxy6. Super Mario Galaxy (Wii) – Trash Cleanup Star
The Galaxy games still remain my favorite 3-D Mario platforming games, and for good reason. Both are brilliantly crafted and feature some of the best platforming and most entertaining levels I’ve ever encountered. That said, the original contains a couple of stars that you can only get by clearing up some trash for a little robot guy…with bombs…working under a very short timer. The timer is such that one mistake will ruin your attempt, and when you fail, you have to listen to the the speech again. And it only gets more infuriating each time you fail. It also doesn’t help that the bombs have to be almost perfectly placed, so it becomes a timed puzzle game. I’ve played through this game a few times, and this mini-game (ha!) always raises my blood pressure.

Bioshock5. Bioshock (Xbox 360) – Being a Big Daddy
Yet another of my personal favorites. Bioshock does so much right that it seems almost wrong to nitpick about anything, but there is a sequence late in the game that commits one of the gaming sins. After hours of fighting through Rapture, being betrayed and lied too, and encountering numerous tank like Big Daddies that put up a major fight, you are tasked with becoming one yourself. Initially, this sounds like fun. You get the power of the most powerful enemy you encounter…except you don’t. You may be dressed like a Big Daddy, but you’re lacking their power and weapons. That alone, wouldn’t be too bad except for that gaming sin I mentioned above. Like other Big Daddies, you have to summon a Little Sister, and protect her from splicers as she gathers Adam. In the history of video games, I can recall no enjoyable escort mission, and as amazingly crafted as this game is, it is still no exception. It may just be a slight ugly spot on an otherwise stellar experience, but it is still there.

Mario Kart4. Mario Kart 7 (3DS) – Blue Shell
I chose Mario Kart 7 here, but it could have been almost any entry. I love racing games, and I love the Mario Kart series. Even the items are fun because everyone is on the same footing. That is, until, someone near the back grabs the blue shell and turns it loose on the leader. No matter what you do, there is almost no way to dodge this weapon. It is all powerful and allows you no way to evade as the other items do. This item also seems far too common and it’s not unusual to have two or three hit you in one lap. It’s terribly frustrating to be doing extremely well, only to be hampered by something that you can’t defend against. Nintendo, at least give us a fighting chance here (as a side note here, it appears that there is an item in Mario Kart 8 that will do just that).

Skyward Sword3. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii) – Motion Controls
Oh, this one will raise some eyebrows. Skyward Sword was heralded for its motion controls. It was the entire basis of the game and the primary selling point for both the game, and for what the Wii (and by extension, the WiiU) was fully capable of. Let me explain though. I’m not speaking of aiming mechanics here, nor rolling bombs or strumming the harp. No, specifically, I’m speaking of the sword controls. Perhaps it was just me, but all too often, I would move the sword to the proper area to strike an enemy, only to have the game read it as an actual attack. This wasn’t too bad with normal enemies, but when bosses required precision in this area, it became a major frustration. I would try to move more slowly, but the enemy(s) would then shift before I was in position. In later battles, it simply became a guessing game. I appreciate what Nintendo wanted to do with this game, but from my experience, it just didn’t work. Maybe I’m alone here, but I’ll take a button press for sword attacks over the frustration of motion any day.

Tropical Freeze2. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (WiiU) – Underwater Boss
Few times have I felt frustration at a game like I did during one portion of this game. This game re-introduced swimming to the DKC games after it was absent in DKCR. The controls were…okay, but as with most swimming levels in games, lacked the tightness required in a platforming game. Still, they were manageable and completing the primarily underwater world wasn’t a terrible task until you reached the boss level. First of all, you are surrounded by the equivalent of spikes, meaning your playing field is immediately limited. Secondly, the boss likes to enlarge itself, giving you even less room to maneuver. Finally, to top all of that, you have to watch your air supply. All too often, my Kongs seemed to refuse my input, all too often wandering in the wrong direction, or deciding that I was trying to get them to boost for a moment, resulting in the loss of a heart. As much as I enjoyed this game, I actually set it aside for four days after first trying to beat this boss. Once I did best him, it was completely by accident, and I was left to ponder how such a terrible battle could have found its way into such a well designed game.

Goldeneye1. Goldeney (N64) – Protect Natalya
Goldeneye redefined what FPS games could do on a console, and is still enjoyed for both it’s incredible design and absurdly fun multiplayer matches. Still, in spite of all of the joy and fun that can be had with this game, like all games on this list, it has one major black eye. One particular mission requires you to protect Natalya while she hacks/downloads info from a computer. As expected, you soon have a couple of enemies appear, but nothing major. Then, a few more appear. You off them, wondering how much longer you have to do this. Too long. By the time she is finished, you’ll have enemies coming from all directions, not to fire at you, but to take out Natalya. As I mentioned before, no game has yet been able to make an escort or protection mission fun, and this mission drives that home. There is zero fun to be had protecting Natalya and, once you are finally finished, you’ll most likely never look back at this level, except to shudder for a moment and recall the frustration of having to repeat it again and again until you finally tasted victory.

Easter Egg

Well…this is pretty straight forward. Being the week after Easter, I felt this would be the perfect time to list my Top 8 Easter Eggs from gaming. There was a huge amount to choose from, so I’m sure some of your favorites have been left out, for which I do apologize. I could have done a Top 50 for this.

8. Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien – Slenderman is watching you.

Runner 2

With the way this game flows, it’s hard to spot, but many times, if you can spare a glance, you will see the infamous Slenderman lurking in the background. There appears to be no reason for his presence, which actually makes this creepier. While I’ve pointed out Slenderman, he’s only one of many bizarre critters to show up in the background of this game.

7. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze – Samus Aran’s crash landing

Tropical Freeze

Another tough one to spot, but if you look closely in Busted Bayou, you can spot Samus’s ship wedged in the trees. This is both a shout to another Nintendo franchise, as well as a reference to the games that put Retro Studios on the map. Here’s hoping it’s also a hint as to what Retro will be working on next.

6. Mega Man X – Street Fighting Man

MMX Hadouken

Included here is a reference to Capcom’s Street Fighter franchise. If you complete Armored Armadillo’s stage 4 times, finishing each time with full health, you’ll find a Dr. Light capsule where the good doctor will give you the Hadouken. Other than the final boss, this move will kill any enemy in one hit.

5. Super Mario RPG – Princess Toadstool’s ???

Super Mario RPG

I’m quite fond of this just because of how unexpected it is. This is Nintendo’s flagship franchise, so stumbling across a very adult reference was very surprising, which only helped to make it that more entertaining and humorous to find.

4. Dead Space – Chapter Title spoiler alert

Dead Space

Throughout Dead Space, you constantly interact with Nicole, the fiance of main character Isaac Clarke. At the end of the game, you discover that Nicole was actually killed before you ever arrived on the Ishimura, meaning you were experiencing hallucinations the entire time. Of course, if you take the first letter of each chapter title, you would have figured this out far sooner as they spell out: NICOLE IS DEAD.

3. Bioshock 2 – Jack’s Arrival

Bioshock 2

As a Big Daddy, you are free to roam the ocean floor outside of Rapture, something you couldn’t do as Jack in the original. In one such sequence, if you look around, you can spot the wreckage of a plane on the ocean floor. There’s no guarantee that this is the plane that Jack was on in the original, but I think it’s a safe bet to assume it is.

2. Metal Gear Solid – Psycho Mantis knows your gaming library

MGS Psycho Mantis

I’m still debating whether or not this qualifies as an Easter Egg, but it has shown up on other lists I’ve read, so I’m including it here. I played the Gamecube release of this title, but both it and the PS original include this sequence. Psycho Mantis is challenging because he can read your mind, something he proves by reading your memory card and commenting on the saved games you have. He also moves your controller via a rumble feature. I have to mention the fight here too, as changing controller inputs to attack him is simply genius.

1. Batman: Arkham Asylum – The Warden’s Office

Arkham City Map

No game is ever guaranteed a sequel, but Rocksteady must have known what they had when designing Arkham Asylum. Hidden extremely well is a destructible wall. If you blow it up, you will enter the warden’s office. On the wall in the office are the blueprints for Arkham City. If you found this secret early on (virtually no one did, from what I’ve read), it would just seem like a throwaway section, but with the announcement of Arkham City as the sequel, the meaning of this room became perfectly clear.

 

Smash Brothers

We’ve seen so many of these lists, but why should all the other bloggers get the glory? I’ll admit to only being a casual Smash Brothers fan, but as new characters get introduced, much like many others, I can’t help but think about the fighters I would love to see included on the roster. I’ve cast a very wide net and only excluded those characters owned by either Sony or Microsoft. To the best of my knowledge, all of the characters I’ve chosen have shown up on a Nintendo console at some point.

Bubble Bobble8. Bub/Bob (Bubble Bobble)
I don’t mean together or anything, just one at a time. Bub and Bob seem like a strange choice at first, but along with traditional physical attacks, they could also encase competitors in bubbles, then burst the bubbles to send them flying. Special attacks could also revolve around the special types of bubbles from the games, such as lightning or the fire drops that create a line of flames on the floor. Size would seem to be an issue, but I see them as the same size as Kirby, so that could work.
Final Smash: Calling upon Baron Von Blubba to take out the other fighters

Ys (Napishtim)7. Adol Christin (Ys Series)
I’ve discussed Adol before, but then I’m quite a fan of him. While his move set from the earlier games wouldn’t translate well, his moves from later games such as Ark of Napishtim would be perfect. He could do traditional sword moves, but also spice those up with elemental effects (as seen in Ark of Napishtim). Adol also has had a double jump and, if I remember correctly, an uppercut sword attack that would work well as a recovery move. With his sword work and speed, I could see him as a hybrid of Metaknight and Ike, a nice combo indeed. Adol’s inclusion would also be a nice shout out to what is generally considered a niche series.
Final Smash: Goes old school, running right into the enemies to knock them back

Vectorman6. Vectorman (Vectorman)
Just an aside, but why in the world has Vectorman been dormant for so long? Vectorman could translate to Smash Brothers easily, with his hand employed ball gun being perfect for distance attacks while normal kicks and punches could work for anything up close. Apart from those, he could employ various transformations from his two games (only two games is a shame) as special moves against the other fighters, such as jumping above a foe, then landing on them with the drill transformation. As a bonus, his inclusion could get us a third game in the series, perhaps a side-scrolling adventure via online distribution.
Final Smash: Level destroying bomb transformation

Shulk (Xenoblade)5. Shulk (Xenoblade Chronicles)
My love of Xenoblade Chronicles is well documented, but like the other characters I’ve noted, I just see Shulk as being a great addition to the Smash Brothers roster. Along with using sword moves courtesy of the Monado, Shulk could also employ an array of Arts, ranging from the buster, which creates a long, far-reaching blade, to cyclone which does just what it sounds like, to healing himself (lowering his percentage in Smash Brothers). Like I’ve pointed out for some other entries, Shulk’s inclusion would also shine some light on Monolith Soft and their work for Nintendo.
Final Smash: Time freezes temporarily while Shulk activates his arts to thwart future attacks from the other competitors

Amaterasu (Okami)4. Amaterasu (Okami)
Many people have thrown out Wolf Link (and Midna) to be included in Smash Brothers, but why not avoid drawing from Hyrule yet again and instead bring in the Wolf Goddess Amaterasu from the wonderful Okami. Ammy is no pushover and could be a powerhouse with her varying physical attacks that could be even more varied by including her weapons and subweapons (the Reflector, Glaive, and Rosaries, for example). Ammy’s quickness would also be a great asset, as would her agility. While Wolf Link would be fine, I can’t help but believe that Ammy would be the better choice.
Final Smash: Celestial brush

TMNT3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
I couldn’t pick just one (well, I could, but not everyone loves Donatello like I do), so I’ve included all four of them here. The Turtles are made for fighting and all already come with weapons. It also helps that they’ve already starred in the disappointing Smash Brothers clone, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Smash-up. Their moves from that game could slide over to a Smash Brothers game with only minor adjustments, while weapons like throwing stars could be employed as special moves. This really needs to happen.
Final Smash: Fully weaponized Turtle Blimp

Ryu Hayabusa2. Ryu Hayabusa (Ninja Gaiden)
I didn’t mean to get on a Ninja theme here, but Ryu would be a great addition to this roster. As the more recent Ninja Gaiden games have shown, Ryu is no one trick pony in the fighting department. He could string together moves to keep the other characters off balance and on defense while he cuts into them with his sword techniques. In addition to that, Ryu could call upon his Ninja Arts to further attack his foes. The Shuriken, Flame Wheel, Fire Dragon Balls, and the Jump’n Slash are just a few of the Arts that could be included in the game for Ryu to employ.
Final Smash: A screen full of boomeranging windmill throwing stars

Simon Belmont1. Simon Belmont (Castlevania)
While the 8-bit Simon Belmont may be a stretch for this series, bringing that character into the present with attacks such as those showcased in Castlevania Judgment (a game that I will always defend) would make him perfect for the Smash Brothers roster. Simon would also be a very unique character by employing a chain whip as his primary method of attack, but that also opens up an array of new moves that have never been seen in Smash Brothers before. Complement the whip with his subweapons from Castlevania, such as the Holy Water and Cross, and the move set almost creates itself. Also, like Ruy and Bub & Bob, Simon’s inclusion would be a further celebration of Nintendo and their past, which, in my opinion, is what the heart of Smash Brothers is all about.
Final Smash: Richter Belmont’s Grand Cross

Mario

Holding a Special Place in our Hearts: Ratchet & Clank, Mario, de Blob, Kirby, Fox McCloud, Pit, Wander, Pac-Man, Chris Redfield

God of War8. (tie) Kratos (God of War)
The God of War series may be, at its heart, a hack’n slash, but the story of Kratos is pretty gut wrenching. He vows to serve Ares if he and his men are spared during a losing battle, but is later betrayed by Ares and tricked into killing his own wife and child. This leads to Kratos not only battling Ares, but also taking on the Gods of Mt. Olympus as well as the Titans, neither of which being an easy task. While Kratos is ultimately successful in these battles, he sacrifices himself for mankind, leaving his fate currently unknown.

Solid Snake8. (tie) Solid Snake (Metal Gear)
Despite not being a fan of the Metal Gear games after the original Metal Gear Solid, I have to include Solid Snake on this list. Snake is a genetically modified soldier and part of a secret cloning program. From his time as a rookie until his final mission, which finds him aging rapidly due to his genetic tampering, Snake is constantly facing incredibly long odds and is almost always on his own, though he does get radio and remote support from a cast of other characters. Despite his incredible fighting skills, the key to Snake’s success often lies in stealth and knowing when to engage the enemy and when to avoid them.

Raziel7. Raziel (Legacy of Kain)
Raziel’s history is a bit complex. When first introduced, he was the top lieutenant of the vampire ruler Kain, but was thrown to his death when his powers eclipsed his master’s. Saved by the Elder God, Raziel goes on a quest for vengeance, including defeating his vampiric brothers and traveling through time in an effort to confront his former master. During his quest, Raziel learns that he was once a member of the Sarafan, a vampire hunting brotherhood, and that his spirit would ultimately inhabit the Reaver, which had been broken when Kain attacked him with it. He also discovers upon defeating Kain that his choices will determine the fate of the land of Nosgoth and that the Elder God has hardly been his ally.

Adol6. Adol Christin (Ys)
What seperates Adol from most heroes on this list is that instead of finding himself in a situation that calls for battle or for him to be “the hero,” Adol searches out adventure. He’s rarely called to action, he finds the action and jumps in. In that regard, his timing is uncanny as the lands he visits usually have some intrigue or conflict going on that Adol is happy to insert himself into. The thing is, Adol is also really great at resolving the conflicts at hand. While he seeks out adventure, he also has the abilities to take on whatever and whomever he comes across. Just an aside here, but these games are also very hard, so bonus points to Adol for facing some seriously intimidating beasts.

Simon5. Simon Belmont (Castlevania)
I really could have picked any Belmont here, but Ultimately went with Simon since he has had three starring roles and dealt with Dracula the most during his lifetime, including dispelling a curse placed on him that forced him to intentionally resurrect Dracula only to battle and defeat him once more. Simon uses the Vampire Killer as his primary weapon in his battles, but also has access to supplemental weapons such as throwing axes, holy water, and the always useful boomerang cross. Simon, like his ancestors and descendants, battles hordes of Dracula’s followers, all the while traversing dangerous terrain to bring down the Vampire and preserve the peace for his home land.

Isaac Clarke4. Isaac Clarke (Dead Space)
Isaac Clarke really can’t get a break. An engineer, he is heading to a spaceship for work and to see his girlfriend. Upon arriving, he and his crew are attacked by necromorphs, with Isaac barely surviving and finding himself all alone against the threat, with the surviving members of his team tasking him with getting them all off the ship. Isaac uses his skills as an engineer to do so, learning how to use new weapons on the fly. After escaping the ship, Isaac is placed in a psych ward on the Sprawl (located on Titan), which is then infested by necromorphs as well, meaning Isaac must once again battle these monsters before escaping the sprawl, only to find himself in yet another situation on an icy planet. While only an engineer, Isaac uses his intelligence to overcome the situations that seem to find him each time. To top all of this, his girlfriend was killed long before he made it to the ship. That’s a bad few days.

Leon3. Leon Kennedy (Resident Evil)
Much like Isaac Clarke, Leon Kennedy has trouble find him. On his first day as a police officer in Raccoon City, Leon finds himself alone against the Zombie outbreak. He does eventually escape Raccoon City and is promoted over time to the President’s security detail. It is at this point that he is tasked with rescuing the president’s daughter from a rural European village, that happens to be the home to Las Plagas, a parasite that is controlling the visitors and driving them to kill Leon. After defeating their leader, Lord Saddler, Leon saves Ashley, the daughter, and returns to the US where, once again, a zombie outbreak occurs, including the infection of his good friend, the President. It is Leon’s training and skills that make him such a force in each game and lead to him triumphing in each situation.

Mega Man X2. Mega Man/Mega Man X (Mega Man/Mega Man X)
I’ve included both incarnations of Mega Man here because it would be impossible to pick between them. As a helper robot, Rock volunteers to be transformed into Mega Man by Dr. Light after Dr. Wily hi-jacks Light’s other robots to attack civilization. After each defeat, Mega Man was able to use that robot master’s weapon. His battles with Dr. Wily would continue through nine more sequels, with Mega Man triumphing over Wily’s creations each time. Towards the end of his life, Dr. Light also creates Mega Man X and puts him in stasis in case he is needed at some point in the future. Oddly enough, it is his discovery by Dr. Cain, and Cain’s attempts to replicate X that lead to X having to do battle with other robots that have gone Maverick and are threatening mankind. Both Mega Man and Mega Man X seem outmatched, but both always answer the call and defeat the enemies facing them.

Link1. Link (The Legend of Zelda)
While I recognize that most Zelda games feature a new Link, it is the hero’s spirit that embodies them and fate that leads to them saving Hyrule (usually). Link is the quintessential hero. He isn’t necessarily the quickest or the strongest and the foes he faces always seem to have the advantage, but Link always uses his skills and the tools and weapons at his disposal to claim victory. Also, despite not being a soldier or a fighter, he takes the situations that fate hands him and just does what has to be done, even when it seems that doing so is almost suicidal. It is his bravery and unflinching courage that define him and guide him in each adventure. For always being the hero, Link is #1.

ET

For this list, I’m using some flexible rules. Basically, I’m allowing games that are based directly on a Movie or TV show as well as games that only use those licenses. Some of these also originated as comics, but I’ve allowed them so long as the games are pulled from a Movie or Television adaptation or if the comic came after the film or show.

Not on the Podium: Little Nemo: The Dream Master, The Goonies 2, Aladdin, Spider-Man, X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse, The Lion King

Simpsons8. The Simpsons: Hit & Run (PS2/Xbox/GCN)
I haven’t spent much time with a GTA game, but my understanding is that this is basically GTA: Simpsons Edition, and that is fine with me. Featuring a story by the show’s writers and voice talent from the show as well, Hit & Run finds you in the shoes of the Simpsons as you walk and drive your way around different sections of Springfield. While I’ve staled on the show in recent years, I still found that this game really felt like you were in the show and wandering around Springfield. While there is a plot to follow, I had my most fun simply exploring the area and finding all of the hidden collectibles, essentially only completing each Chapter when I had to, not because the story was weak, but because I found exploring this game just to be that much fun.

Robo vs Terminator7. Robocop versus the Terminator (SNES/Sega Genesis)
Based on two movie stalwarts (and a comic book series), Robocop versus the Terminator places you in the shoes of Robocop as you investigate a person out to kill you and why the Terminators want that person dead and you, as Robocop, to stay alive. The story takes you from the familiar streets of Detroit to an apocalyptic future ruled by the machines, which you, as Robocop, unwittingly helped create and make sentient. This game features multiple weapons to use as well level variety. Also, this game can get extremely hard, but is rarely unfair. Bonus points for the humorous credits that run if you know the code to enter…assuming you can get to the credits.

Indiana Jones6. Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (Xbox 360/PS3/Wii)
For anyone that prefers Star Wars, you could probably replace this title with Star Wars and it would still work. I’m an Indiana Jones fan, and this title just edges out the Greatest Adventures SNES game as my favorite Jones game. Combining the charm of the Lego games with scenarios from all three of the original movies, Lego Indiana Jones is both familiar and new at the same time. As with all Lego games, there are many secrets and unlockables which work to provide quite a bit of replay value. I will admit my bias and say that the main draw for me to this game was the licensed property, but it does speak very highly of the game that it reminds me so much of the films. It treats its source material with respect and adapts it perfectly to the Lego World.

Addams Family Values5. Addams’ Family Values (SNES/Sega Genesis)
I’d wager that this is the least known game on this list, and I can understand why. Just based on seeing it in store, I’d ignore it too, but a Nintendo Power feature lead me to pick this game up, and I’m extremely glad I did. Addams’ Family Values puts you in control of Uncle Fester, who has a lightening attack, in a top down perspective as you roam the Addams’ estate in search of Debbie and Pubert. The game plays quite a bit like a Legend of Zelda title, having you explore different lands and dungeons while gathering new items that aid you in different ways. The game is open world and does have you back track to explore new areas. The only knock I have against this game is the save system. It is password based, but you must find Grandmama who is not in a convenient area to reach. Other than that though, this game is quite the hidden gem.

DuckTales4. DuckTales (NES)
Do I really need to even say why this game is here? It’s an extremely well designed platformer based on a beloved cartoon & comic series. This is another game given to us via an agreement between Disney and Capcom that lead to some very good licensed games. Of those games, I consider this one to be the best. You take control of Uncle Scrooge as he explores five different land areas, chosen Mega Man style, in search of valuable treasures, and with each having a boss at the end. Each land you visit is a bit open world, offering up multiple paths for you to explore, as well as many hidden treasures to be found, some hidden quite well. I also have to take this time to give special notice to the music of this game, some of the best you’ll find on the NES.

TMNT II3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game (NES)
Based mostly on the cartoon (itself pulled from the original comics), I’m basing this ranking on the NES port. A beat ’em up in the vein of Double Dragon, TMNT II is one of the highlights of the original NES. The character models are surprisingly detailed for the NES, matching their cartoon animations quite well. The gameplay, while like most “defeat enemies, move on” games, manages to stay fresh with varying enemies and hazards for you to deal with. The levels help keep this freshness by taking you through different locales and, in one level, putting you on a motorized skateboard while you fend off enemies. For anyone that loved the cartoon, this title was about as close as you could get to taking control of those characters.

Ghostbusters2. Ghostbusters: The Video Game (Xbox 360/PS3/Wii/PS2)
This might has well of been called Ghostbusters 3. Written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis and featuring nearly the entire cast of the original two movies, this game is worth playing for the story alone. That said, the gameplay is extremely well done and a ton of fun. The game uses a traditional third person shooter set-up, except you are attempting to wrangle ghosts instead of killing human enemies. Surprisingly, this game also has some scary moments. You’ll find yourself alone, separated from the other members of the team, facing some spooky stuff and it can be a bit intimidating. It would have been easy to slap Ghostbusters on the box and attempt to sell something shoddy off of the name, but it is nice to see that the developers made a game they can be very proud to stand behind and one that more than lives up to its namesake.

Goldeneye1. Goldeneye (N64)
As with Ghostbusters, it would have been easy to phone this in on the power of the name, but instead, Rare crafted an FPS title that still stands strong today, and worked as a pioneer for future console FPS titles. Goldeneye takes you through the movies main areas, giving you a main goal, but also giving you supplemental requirements to be completed based upon your chosen difficulty. The game played so well that it almost managed to make an escort mission enjoyable, which in the realm of escort missions, is a major win. Complimenting the very strong single player campaign was a robust multiplayer mode allowing up to four players to fight one another via split screen and using weapons and characters not only from Goldeneye but also from past Bond films. For both the high quality of the game as well as what it did for future console FPS titles, Goldeneye is #1.