Today this happened:
and I thought I’d give it a go. Of course, even with Twitter’s new 280 character limit, you can’t say a whole lot about these games without running out of space! So here is an expansion of the thread, which I will edit as and when anyone else causes me to add to the list.
In no particular order:
1. Super Mario Galaxy. Or its sequel. Both are fantastic and represent the pinnacle of the Super Mario series – a fine accolade if ever there was one. The game controls perfectly, even with the so-called “forced” motion controls, and the gravity effects on the levels add a lot of opportunity for Nintendo’s genius to shine. The second game adds everything that was missing from the first, and is probably my favourite game ever.
2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. I remember buying this game. There was a shop at the top of Watford High Street called SRS the sold camera parts and computer components, and at some point they had pre-owned SNES games. I bought ALttP (the cartridge had been painted gold in the slot that holds it in the console) and my life as a gamer was well and truly begun. The music is utterly perfect, as is the intro to the story. And the graphics. Everything about the game is perfect. I still replay it regularly, even though I could probably walk through it blindfold.
3. Resident Evil 2. For me, this was the peak of the series. 4 was ok, 5 was a lot of fun, but this was the absolute top of the pile. My first encounter with it was round my best friend Ben’s house after school. He’d just got the game, so we sat in his room and finished it that evening. The story is as good as a zombie tale gets, and the atmosphere, coupled with the tank controls (that I quite enjoy) add to a level of tension that isn’t often matched. The graphics pushed the PlayStation to new levels too, which is nice. I have high hopes for the remake that is rumoured to be on its way.
4. Batman Arkham Asylum. I almost chose Arkham City, but felt that that game went on a bit long, and the open nature of the city was less focussed than the first game, confined to the Asylum. The fighting is rightly considered top-notch, with weight behind each punch. On hard mode, with no cartoony cues you have to keep an eye on the enemies around you to time your counter attacks well, making you feel even more like Batman. There are metroidvania elements in the design, with new gadgets unlocking previously inaccessible areas, and upgrades are available to increase your health or the efficacy of your arsenal. I’m playing it now for the fourth time, this time on PS4 where it looks wonderful. The game captures the atmosphere of Batman better than any of the films too.
5. R-Type. One of my earliest memories was of my dad introducing me to this at the arcades. Probably somewhere in Devon or South Wales, as these were two places we frequented for family holidays. The game is rock hard, and requires a lot of patience as you work through the side scrolling levels. There are plenty of sequels of varying quality, but the original is best in this case. Short of an arcade cabinet the ultimate way to enjoy this is via R-Type dimensions on Xbox 360 (or Xbox One via backwards compatibility) or PlayStation 3. This collection of the first two games introduces a semi-3D mode (a gimmick beat ignored) and a remastered mode with shiny new graphics, which is very nicely done. A press of a button returns you to the arcade graphics if you prefer. The Amiga version has the greatest loading screen music I’ve ever heard, and the Gameboy version (especially the DX release) deserves a mention and a play too.
6. Tetris. Specifically the Gameboy version, which is clearly superior to all others. Sequels have tried to add new mechanics and change up the gameplay in various ways, but lack the purity of this original, which plays to the Gameboy’s strengths. I’ve put so many hours into this game, and it remains a pick up and play staple of mine. My top line count is 221 and I hope one day I may beat it… though I’ve scored that several times over, so it may be literally the limit of my Tetris talents.
7, Sonic The Hedgehog. Now do I choose the Master System or the Mega Drive game? The MS version is ever so slightly more fun, but the MD version has Starlight Zone’s sublime soundtrack. They’re both great games, and again remain in my regular rotation when I want to pick up and play something for a few minutes. Sonic games have been bad for a long time (I’m still not certain I enjoyed Mania even) but the first game, on either system, came long before voice acting, terrible characters and naff 3D platforming came to the series.
8. Super Mario Land. Another Super Mario game, and not the last to appear on this list. SML perfectly reduces the home console series to Gameboy size and, despite coming in a bit from the left field with its shoot em up stages and Chinese vampires, manages to provide a truly fun game that can be completed in 20-30 minutes. Superior to its sequel in my eyes, this is the perfect platform game for Gameboy.
9. Horizon Zero Dawn. This was almost my pick for game of the year 2017. Almost. I had so much fun playing the campaign, which I managed to complete 100%! With all the trophies won. However, when I later installed the DLC I found I couldn’t get back into it and so haven’t even played the DLC yet. The game looks utterly gorgeous, certainly amongst the very best console games available, and the gameplay thankfully matches it. Giant robot creatures plague your every move, leading to some fun bow fights as you employ a selection of arrow types and other weapons to bring them down. I shan’t give any spoilers here, but the story is also very exciting, with some great twists as you progress.
10. Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. As it was known in 90s Britain. On Twitter I said there was nothing more to say than that this was perfect. That’s about it. To us 10-ish year olds this was as close as we could get to being the Turtles outside of our own imaginations. All the characters are there, the music, the sound effects, but most importantly you could play with three others and watch all the Turtles fighting their way to Shredder and Krang. Best arcade game ever? Probably.
11. The Simpsons. As I said on Twitter, I couldn’t mention the Turtles arcade without mentioning its stablemate. Konami were on top form in the beginning of the 90s and though most of us in England didn’t know a whole lot about The Simpsons (apart from the posh kids who had Sky at home), we knew a good game when we saw one. Made so early in the Simpsons life, there are references here that are long forgotten in the TV series (not that anyone watches that any more) but the sense of mischief that the series had back then is delivered here in spades. Another 4-player game, this is especially enjoyable with a full complement.
12. Super Mario All Stars. Ok, I know this is four games, but they were presented on one cartridge so there. I’m very happy that back in 1993 I chose the All Stars bundle when I got my SNES – my first video game console – instead of the Street Fighter II Turbo set. There is so much game here, I wonder where Nintendo’s generosity disappeared to. Like others here this still gets regular play in my house, and it provides the same level of enjoyment as ever. The three NES games, and the Japanese version of SMB2, all remade in 16-bit, these are gorgeous games. The graphics and sound are far beyond what had been possible previously, and served as direct proof of how far things had come between Nintendo’s first two hardware generations. If you twisted my arm I’d provably say Super Mario Bros 2 was my favourite of the bunch, though it’s the first that I come back to time and time again.
13. Pinball Dreams. Another Amiga classic here, one that I enjoyed many hours of. The music is amazingly good, and the four tables each have their own theme adding o replay value. As far as pinball physics go this obvious isn’t going to pass muster today, but in the early 90s this was as good as it got besides a real table. I have this game and its sequel (Pinball Fantasies) on my iPhone, which should demonstrate the lasting appeal these games have.
14. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. More Mario. There is no greater games series after all. I remember buying this one too, in Watford High Street. Beaties I think. If previously bought Earthworm Jim on Gameboy, completed it in a day, and returned it – paying a little extra to buy Yoshi’s Island. Interesting fact: besides All Stars, Zelda, and the Super Scope, this was the only other SNES game I ever owned. As close to perfect as 16-bit platform games ever got, this has everything. Beautiful graphics made to look like crayon drawings, fun music, a great protagonist and great enemies. The bosses especially stand out, moving away from the cookie cutter moulds of previous games – especially the final stand off against Baby Bowser! Repeatability is assured as the game also requires you to 100% each level to unlock bonus stages for each round. Plenty of challenge here for the hardest core of hardcore gamers, this game is an absolute winner.
15. Guitar Hero 3. I first played this series (besides a cheeky demo in the local Game) when GH2 came to Xbox 360, though it was GH3 which took the series to its highest heights. The song selection was perfect, with original recordings instead of dodgy “as made famous by” covers, and some awesome boss fights rounded off a complete package. The series sold its soul and slid downhill hereafter (even GH Metallica couldn’t regain my interest) but this one is a belter.
16. House of the Dead 3. My first encounter with this game was in Newquay in the Summer of 2003, where I found the game with a massive screen and two plastic shotguns and ended up spending half my holiday budget on it. The screen was positioned right in the bright sunshine, but I still enjoyed myself enough that I bought an Xbox bundle including this and a gun so I could continue with it. So much fun, and so much better than the already great first two games.
17. Wonder Boy. Another fond arcade memory. When I was young I had a friend called David who was born just before me. I believe our mums met at prenatal classes or some such. We’re still friends, at least via Facebook and Instagram, which is nice. When we were very young he moved to Clacton-on-Sea which gave my mum somewhere to leave me for a few days in the holidays, and we of course spent a lot of time playing in the arcades. Once we played Wonder Boy in 2 player mode, but player 2’s turn flipped the screen upside down! We complained, having paid 20p, and the guy came over and opened the machine and flicked the coin catch a few times so we had loads of credits! Good times.
18. Dark Souls 2. Specifically the Scholar of the First Sin edition on PS4, which is how I’ve enjoyed it. Considered by some to be the weakest entry in the Souls series, I consider it the best. The bosses are fun, the world is beautiful in its decay, and progressing through it (very slowly) was a joy. Hard as nails, this is one series I don’t feel guilty using a guide which for me doesn’t detract at all from the experience – though I used it only to know which order to tackle the various areas, and never for clues on how to get through to it defeat each boss.
19. Lemmings. When my Dad brought home a Commodore Amiga Cartoon Classics bundle, he intended for me to learn about computers and find my way into an industry he thought would set me up for life. Well, it certainly gave me a lifelong love of one of the bundled games – Lemmings! So full of character, puzzles ranging from easy as pie to hard as nails, there’s much to love. The music is exemplary, particularly on the Amiga version. Probably the best port is found on PSP, though even on Gameboy it serves as an admirable attempt.
20. Wario Ware Inc. Mega Microgame$. One of my all time favourite Gameboy Advance games, this is the first of an excellent series. The Wii U game (Game & Wario) was a bit poo, but otherwise this series has gone from strength to strength, on GBA, DS and Wii. Made of a collection of micro games – these are a lot smaller even than mini games…. each one lasting around 2 seconds as you react to the situation and press the appropriate buttons to move on. Fail too many games and you lose. The characters you meet each have their own style of associated games, and later on you will unlock various mixes for your eternal enjoyment.
21. Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney (Series). I’ve lumped the many Ace Attorney games together, as they essentially tell one story. Each new game brings new mechanics, but the basic premise stays the same – find clues and present evidence to solve court cases. Utterly linear, these games win simply for the story and characters. I started, as did anyone in the West, with the DS titles (originally in Japan on GBA), and have enjoyed the 3DS sequels too. In fact, bar two games in the middle (which left Phoenix behind as main character), all the games are available in the 3DS eStore – including a crossover with Professor Layton which is in my backlog to play some time!
22. Grand Theft Auto 5. There can be no doubt – the GTA series is fantastic. Whilst I struggle to enjoy GTA 3 and Vice City (gasp!) today because of slippy physics and dodgy cameras, the rest of them are all but timeless, each providing a snippet of the world at the time of release. GTA V, being the most recent, is also the best in just about every way (apart from San Andreas’ soundtrack, which is the greatest in the history of the universe). The player characters in particular are the most interesting to date, especially because you play as three very different fellows, each supposedly representing a particular type of GTA player. The online component is huge and I have yet to dig into it, but the main campaign itself kept me busy (with all the distractions) for 42 glorious hours in my first play through, which only leads to the post game and the opportunity for infinite chaos.
23. Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2. The first game arrived when I was 18 years old and spending my days at the local skate park, so it soon became essential for me fulfilling my fantasies while in the real world I could just about handle a kickflip and some basic fun on the halfpipe. This sequel upped the anti in every way, improved every aspect of the game. The series soon started to go downhill with Activision’s annual release schedule, and this was certainly the one where it all came together just right.
24. Doom. Classic classic classic. I didn’t think a lot of the fast-paced “Doom 4” of 2016, but the first game and it’s expansions (and indeed Doom 3) are all fantastic fun and yet more retro goodness that I still regularly enjoy. It made Wolfenstein 3D look positively ancient, and still holds up well today in context of what it did in the early 1990s. The shotgun rules, with limited spread even over long distances and soon becomes the most essential weapon. Until you find the BFG.
25. Rhythm Paradise. I’ve always had a thing for rhythm games. Ever since I was 12 and first began to realise my dreams of being a guitarist my focus has been on tight rhythms – and now as a bassist that comes in very handy. This series of games features a run of mini games in which you must respond rhythmically with a simple button press. Kind of like Wario Wares, but the games are based strictly in music. Sometimes quite tough, they test my skills every time and that’s why I love them. The later game Rhythm Paradise Megamix is on 3DS and very good indeed, but you can’t go wrong with any of the games on any of the systems.
26. Game & Watch Collection. DS (and 3DS) was perfect for some dual screen Game & Watch games. Utterly perfect. And yet we got no actual collections – whereas Gameboy had four! Well, some lucky Club Nintendo members got exclusive access a collection of three titles on cartridge, and I was lucky enough to import it before the cool kids caught on and pushed the price up. The games included are Oil Panic, Greenhouse and my absolute favourite G&W Donkey Kong! They are perfectly emulated, the colours beautifully realised, and even the faint shadow of the unlit LCD sections. And the best thing – you can turn down the volume of the beeps and bleeps! It’s a real shame that Nintendo haven’t seized the opportunity to add a G&W section to the 3DS eShop.
So there you have it. 26 of my most favourite games of all time. What do you think? Want to share some of your own favourites? Oh, go on then…
@RetroRam on Twitter if you want to get in touch.