My Favorite Games: 50-41#

50# Axiom Verge

Like the history of most indie games developed by a very small group of persons (or in this case, a single one), Axiom Verge took a very long time to finally be released, but it delivered on being a fulfilling Metroid experience that was lacking in the market since the release of Zero Mission, as the sci-fi setting was left sort of untouched by the genre and most opted for something more akin to how Symphony of the Night played. I can’t say I found the game to be quite on par with the best of 2D Metroid due to a few confusing moments in how to progress and the story being frankly too abstract for me, but it still offered some original takes on the typical upgrades from these games (my favorite being outright glitching through walls instead of finding some weapon that destroys these) and it actually offers better rewards for going out of your way to explore every nook and cranny in a map, instead of finding the 50th missile expansion you probably won’t need, this game offers gives different weapons if not outright upgrades to your stats (not just limited to HP like its inspiration source). Maybe a revisit is due to see if the game has improved over the years, but as it is, I think it’s comfortable being the gateway to the top.

49# Shining Force Resurrection of the Dark Dragon

I believe Shining Force might be the first game I’ve played with a larger narrative compared to your average title from the 90’s and my first foray into the turn based, grid style strategy games. It has a fairly average but still memorable fantasy tale with a large cast of cool looking characters and it’s a pretty big adventure, reaching about 20 hours of playtime by the end of the whole thing, which sorta made it impossible for me to finish as a kid as I relied on an emulator that couldn’t save games for whatever reason. The GBA seems to have a few divisive spots with fans, and I’ll agree the character potraits lost something when updated barring a few exceptions, but I appreciate giving the characters backstories through the tavern besides the new content added at the end of chapters 1-3, besides being what allowed me to finally finish the thing when I learned that it existed, so that makes it superior in my book. I used to hold this game in much higher regard, but Fire Emblem has sorta soured that, being generally a much more rewarding and entertaining experience. Still, nostalgia and a ridiculous amount of replays make this one hold a special place in my heart.

48# Megaman X

Classic Megaman never did much for me, but X changed that being a generally much faster paced game with a fantastic set of weapons to mess around with, new memorable baddies in form of the mavericks taking shapes of robotic animals and some very fun level designs that rewarded exploration with a bunch of neat upgrades. I also really love the idea of stages being altered depending on whether you defeated others previously or not, spicing up the potential ways to tackle the game on revisits. It’s a bit unfortunate the follow ups never quite reached the same peaks or properly evolved this formula, while some still proved entertaining, the formula got stale much more quickly compared to its classic counterpart. Still, maybe it’s a testament on how good the first X was that Capcom simply never quite reached the same magic it had with its multiple sequels.

47# Contra Hard Corps

Speaking of the japanense version here because man this game feels borderline impossible on the american release. Hard Corps is bar none the best of the 90’s Contras, offering some very challenging run and shoot segments with enemies that feel like they’re on steroids with the speed they move around and the numbers they come up with, but what really set this game apart were the multiple characters, each with their own unique set of weapons, and multiple pathways to proceed to. It also cut the top view stages from 3, so that instantly makes it better in my book. It’s an adrenaline heavy game in the best sense possible.

46# Pulseman

Before Gamefreak made nothing but Pokemon, they had some interesting history developing videogames, among the most noteworthy of them being the originally Japan only Pulseman exclusive to the Genesis/Megadrive, kind of hard to believe looking back. While visually it might scream the same Astro-Boy vibes Megaman did (and honestly the story isn’t earning any awards), I find the mechanics of Pulseman to set it apart from almost any platformer of the time. You don’t get any sort of powerups, instead you rely on your electric abilities, which work differently depending on how charge Pulseman is, and besides offering offensive capabilities, the volt tackle has some fun interactions with the environment that become neccesary to progress through the game as you move along (mostly for ricocheting against walls and travelling through cables). Visually it’s a treat, although sometimes the computer world stages can become a little to draining for the eyes. I feel I’m not doing the game much justice, but it’s easily among the best platformers of the Genesis.

45# Castle Crashers

I’m honestly not too fond of beat em ups anymore, I feel most of them feel pretty monotonous and clunky when going back to them, with Golden Axe being one of the worst offenders in this regard, and these criticisms being a big part as to why I really couldn’t care for the Scott Pilgrim game that people bemoan for a re-release after being delisted from PSN/Xbox Live. Castle Crashers however is an exception, as it feels a lot more fluid to control and implements RPG elements in a simple yet effective manner, besides offering loads of replayability thanks to the unlockable characters. It’s not quite the perfect experience as some enemies just take too long to beat, some stages drag on and the whole game could have lasted a good 30-60 minutes less and it’d be more enjoyable, besides having lots of playable characters simply being reskins without even attempting unique spell combinations to make them stand out from the rest so the replayability might have been oversold on my end, and the sense of humor is quite frankly gross. Still, even with these problems, I’ve played this game alone and with friends so many times once I got my PS3 to not consider it among the most memorable games of the last generation.

44# Dark Souls

I didn’t really like Demon’s Souls when I played it, the difficulty and progression never really hit with me and the lore of the game felt really disjointed to make anything all that interesting out of it, even with the many write ups online theorizing what might have happened in that decaying world. Dark Souls isn’t that mechanically different, so you’d think the same problems would arise here, but something about it’s more open world made it more enjoyable to progress through for me, besides having a far more enjoyable magic system compared to its predeccesor (although this still has some flaws to it). It also has a far more realized world building that, while still not the easiest to grasp for a simple minded fellow like me on their own, made for something far more enjoyable in its own depressing way compared to its predeccesor. Progression is far easier to achieve thanks to the modified bonfire system, and upgrading your own stats and equipment feels better implemented compared to the hub in Demon’s Souls, making the experience all the easier to get into. It still has a few areas I absolutely don’t look forward to when I feel like replaying it, most notably Blight Town and the Giants Tomb, but the level design feels generally improved as well. I don’t quite agree with the notion that Dark Souls is this modern masterpiece with little to no flaws that tackles challenge perfectly, but it still made for a highly entertaining experience. I have yet to play the final entry in the series (or any of its spiritual succesors), the DS2 really didn’t reach the same heights despite having a few improvements in QoL, balance and options given to the player. Also the co-op is a lot better than in Demon’s Souls.

43# Outland

Carrying on with lesser known Metroidvanias we have Outland, a game with a very distinctive art direction and a strage hybrid with Ikaruga’s color swapping mechanic and bullet-hell like segments. That in itself already makes it distinct enough, but something about the more primeval setting also makes it pretty unique alongside the powerups that are more designed around the overcoming the amount of hazards rather than mobility extensions (although these are still present). Its bosses are all pretty cool too, offering a fair amount of different gimmicks and evolving patterns on their phases, although they can go on for a little long.

42# Banjo-Tooie

Tooie is quite literally a bigger game than its predeccesor, with larger levels, some fairly long quests, more bosses, more power ups and a much larger length. Not all of these neccesarily equal for a better product, but it feels like what a proper sequel should do, extend over the original ideas while fixing the problems present, this might be an obvious statement to make, but with how derivatively similar some of these turned out both before and nowadays (look no further than the numbered Megaman series in the 90’s or the never ending amount of official sports games). Tooie got rid of lives entirely and now made notes proper collectibles rather than the weird score based system of the original (despite that they were still needed to progress), the overworld is also far easier to traverse through thanks to the warp pipes having useful positionings and just being more visually distinct compared to Grunty’s cave, but what I enjoyed the most was the concept of interconnected worlds, it really made the whole place feel more alive and helped Banjo have more of an identity compared to Kazooie being a Mario 64 clone (albeit a far more polished one). It’s not perfect as the pacing of the game can be pretty frustrating in some stages (with Grunty’s Industries probably being the worst offender) and the first person segments just aren’t fun to go through, but despite these I still greatly enjoyed my time with it, even if maybe playing with a guide might make it more enjoyable than going completely blind.

41# Breath of Fire IV

While the PS1 might be known as an RPG machine, it doesn’t really have many of my favorites, with some regarded classics making my head scratch on why they’re so beloved in the first place (I’m looking at you Grandia), but Breath of Fire IV stood out when I went through a curious phase on the genre. The combo like system feels very appropiate for a game published by Capcom and the game is quite a sight to behold with its spritework, but my favorite part its actually the story, particularly how we’re swapping perspectives between the protagonist during the current events of the game and the antagonists past when he was on the rise of becoming the tyranic emperor he’s known for nowadays, it really made the whole narrative that much memorable looking at things through the glasses of the villain, which I’m not sure if it’s something that’s even done that commonly nowadays even. There’s some archaics elements that are sorta to be expected considering the time of release (with the camera being my least favorite one as it makes traversing through some towns a bigger annoyance than it should be), but they aren’t enough to hurt the overall experience.

Advertisements

Talking about my Favorite Games: a prelude

It’s been a little bit over 3 years since I’ve last made a list of this sort in a forum, and needless to say, things have changed a fair bit since then. New games came out, some titles I’ve grown to like more, while the opposite happened with others. So I think this is a good time to update that old piece of junk with hopefully a little bit of better writing compared to then (although I wouldn’t expect much in that regard).

I’ll follow my usual rule of one game per franchise. You might think that’s some lame attempt to have a bit more diversity in regards to the games that appear, and while I won’t deny I like having lots of different series represented, there’s another reason why I do this. Think of your 5 favorite Mario games, now your 5 favorite Zeldas, not too hard, right? Now which do you like more, your favorite Mario or your favorite Zelda? Probably still not a hard choice to make. Now try and rank those 10 games between each other. Some might find that easier, but while it’s easy to judge games of a series between each other, it gets more complicated when you’re constantly comparing with the dozens of entries another series might have, let alone multiple of them. So basically I’m just too lazy to look at every game I’ve played and enjoyed from a series and compare each and every one of them with every other series that’ll partake on this list.

I’ll cut out from my usual top 100 to a just a good 50. While the triple digits might be impressive in scope, I feel I end up relying too much on nostalgic titles that probably haven’t aged well or games that I enjoyed but didn’t have much of an impact on me, offering very little to talk about, so it essentially feels like filler. It also helps reduce how much time it might take to write these things, so that’s always a plus.

The Pending Ones

There’s of course a few games I haven’t had the chance to play yet for one reason or another that I think could have a chance affecting the current list, but because it’s highly unlikely I’ll play these anytime soon, I’ll just leave them as homework to hopefully change that someday.
These include:

  • Doom (2016)
  • The Witcher series
  • God of War (2018)
  • Insomniac’s Spiderman
  • Devil May Cry 5

Honorable Mentions

Due to my reduced numbers from previous times, there’s a few games that I unfortunately had to leave asides from making it into the main list, and making it a top 60 honestly doesn’t sound right, so here’s a few shoutouts to those games that didn’t quite make it but I still feel deserved a mention.

  • GrimGrimoire
  • World of Goo
  • Alisia’s Dragoon
  • Star Wars Battlefront II (not the EA reboot)
  • Rayman Legends
  • Shadow of the Colossus
  • Radiant Historia
  • Oddworld Stranger’s Wrath
  • Zombies Ate my Neighbours
  • Jak & Daxter the Precursors Legacy

That’s about it for this part, I’ll get to the first batch of games soon hopefully. Thanks for reading.

Talking about Smash: DLC wishlist and expectations, miscelaneous updates hopes.

Smash 3.0 dropped yesterday night, and it’s pretty cool. One of the bigger missing features came back with Stage Creator (probably the only “essential” mode missing that doesn’t require online), and the first challenger pack dropped after many months of wait since Joker’s announcement. Nothing else was announced regarding what awaits the game and we’ll likely not hear anything until E3, so what better time to talk a bit about what I’d like to see?

Joker was actually among the characters I wanted to see, so I can say I’m at least satisfied when I fully expected none of the DLC newcomers would please me. There’s nothing wrong with hoping for the best, but I’m fully ready to not care for whatever awaits after him.

While anime swordsmen are a common complain in the Smash roster (although I’ll mainly blame that on FE bland variety among its playable character), I feel Crono would be a fantastic representative of the SNES era, besides offering some interesting possibilities with his light magic attacks and maybe even mixing up a summoner type character by having his friends join him to perform dual techs. You could honestly put any party member from Chrono Trigger and I’d be happy all the same (Crono isn’t exactly the most profound character out there), but I feel the protagonists of their games would always be considered before anyone else for rather obvious reasons. And just thinking of the potential remixes CT could get makes me all sorts of giddy (although given FF treatment in this regard, maybe that’d be pretty poor). Unfortunately it’s rumored Square hasn’t been super cooperative about getting Cloud back in Ultimate alongside the rather stingy representation the series got with only 2 music tracks and 2 spirits, but even if they’re willing to lend another character, Crono has some very stiff competition from far more active and popular series I’ll probably talk about in a bit, so I can only call him a pipe dream at this rate.

It’s kinda crazy that Banjo no longer looks impossible, I’d even say he’s the likeliest of my dream DLC roster to happen. A few lights started shining down on the idea ever since Spencer said on a tweet he’d be cool with Banjo getting into the game, but then files for spirits based on Rare properties were datamined from Ultimate, and all of a sudden Xbox Live is coming to Switch, and now suddenly Cuphead is dropping on Switch despite being an Xbox funded game, it’s all so bizarre it’s kinda hard to not think if this could lead up to something. I didn’t grow up with the N64, but I always wanted to try the Banjo games as a kid, and after doing so last year, I just think he’d be such a perfect representative for that era of gaming besides having some really fun moves if Tooie is anything to go by. Banjo’s main obstacle is being associated as a Microsoft rep (which is perfectly fair as they own Rare after all), and while I consider the idea of Master Chief or any other potential Rare IP silly, alongside Cuphead probably not being possible after one of the creators talked about hoping to see him in Smash when they likely would be under a NDA if they were being worked on, it’s impossible to deny getting Minecraft in someway into the game would likely make a lot more sense from a financial point of view as it’s just a much bigger franchise, besides Banjo being, y’know, kinda dead after Nuts & Bolts. Obviously they could always aim for both, but eh, my gut tells me that at least for this pass that’s not gonna be the case. Still, I don’t think Banjo’s chances are quite dead yet. If a N64 classic were announced I think having the Banjo games there or not would pretty much guarantee or put the nail in the coffin to this idea, but because that’ll probably not happen until all challengers are announced, all I can do is hope for the best.

While I think all Capcom characters in Ultimate are the most logical choices for the company, I kinda feel they don’t fit my tastes all that well, not really being a fan of the classic Megaman games or Street Fighter as a whole. There’s probably other companies one could make a case should get a fighter before Capcom gets a 3rd original one, but they just have so many potentially cool characters. I’m a pretty big fan of Okami, and I the possibilities Ammy could have with her celestial brush and mixture of weapons sounds a lot of fun, besides likely not playing as any character being a 4 legged wolf after all. That said, Ammy is mostly my prefered choice, but I’d be fully in for the idea of having Dante or Phoenix Wright playable in the game too (although with the latter a simple cameo through an Assist Trophy or a spirit would have done the job). Another Capcom rep is certainly possible given they’re full of iconic series under their disposal, but I feel neither Okami nor Ace Attorney are quite big enough to be among the desired choices for either company, and while Devil May Cry is a pretty popular franchise, I kinda feel getting another stylish action character after the competitive disaster Bayonetta turned out to be might not be among Nintendo’s biggest desires, even if they aren’t quite as big on esports as other companies, besides a recent interview suggesting Devil May Cry should be in a Nintendo console before that could happen (although to be fair, Cloud got in before FF7 was ported to Switch by only having 2 really minor appearances on handheld games, which is the same track record Dante has so far on Nintendo systems).

So this last character is someone I know has absolutely no chance ever getting into Smash, to give you an idea how impossible I think it is, I think it’s likelier they’d go through the legal nightmare that’d be getting a character that didn’t originate from videogames and make Goku from Dragon Ball playable. Despite that, I love the Trails in the Sky trilogy, and Estelle would be pretty great standing out from the rest wielding a staff and all, besides the potential snarky comments she could make if her dialogues in the games are anything to go by.

The bonus segment is pretty much things I might not be actively wanting but I’d buy if they happened regardless. I love the Kirby series and I think I’d buy just about any possible newcomer to come from it, besides that maybe that’d finally get us a stage based on a post-Sakurai era (Dream Land GB and Great Cave Offensive are so bad). Before anyone holds their torchs and forks, I don’t want another FE character in Smash, I’ll be the first to roll my eyes should we get yet another promotional character for 3 Houses, but if they ever made echo fighters for DLC at a reduced price, Morgan would be one I’d like, mostly because I find her character a lot more fun than Robin in Awakening. I’d give a shoutout to a real Zelda newcomer and not Link clone, but unfortunately most of the cool possibilites were turned into AT or spirits (yeah, I’m part of the camp that those disconfirm characters).

So talking about what I want is nice and all, but we don’t always get what we want, these are the characters I personally think will end up as the rest of the challenger packs. I know they might come out as “predictable”, but honestly, the whole Reggie quote about unexpected choices has been blown out of proportion to the point no one ever suggested has a chance, or people just manipulate it in favor of the characters they want to see in the game instead. Moving on from that.

I admit there’s a bit of bias regarding Banjo being here, but I just feel he’s the most natural choice after Microsoft being pretty friendly with Nintendo as of late and Rare as a whole having a fair share of history with Nintendo to want to push that. I won’t be surprised if we end up getting a Minecraft character instead, but I’m putting my chips on the nostalgia cash grab (besides being my prefered choice).

I’m not a fan of Dragon Quest at all, but the series is historically super important for the industry, like I think it outright created the turn based RPG genre, and the series is so stupid popular in Japan they avoid releasing entries during weekdays so students won’t skip classes, that’s pretty unheard of. It hasn’t been as succesful on the west barring a few entries like DQ8, but with Nintendo being a Japanese company, I wouldn’t be surprised they’d push what’s popular in their home country above others, besides the possibility of helping the series gain more popularity globally that way. There’s a few roadblocks regarding problems with the series composer and Toriyama apparently being pretty protective of his brand, but I don’t think it’s anything that can’t be overcome. I simply put Erdrick as it’s the character I hear mentioned the most among discussions and I know 3 is among the most popular entries in the series, but really, you could put the protagonist of the newest game or the Slime and I’d still say they’re Square likeliest candidate out of all their properties.

I remember Heihachi being discussed as a potential Sm4sh newcomer, and while that only led to a Mii costume, the roadblock of no fighting characters has been broken after Ryus addition, and with Namco still helping with Ultimates development (at least from what I understand), getting another character from their brand looks pretty likely to me, and Tekken is one of their most well known series, so that feels like the most natural choice afterwards. I know some mention the likes of a Tales rep or Klonoa, but the former comes out as niche from what I’ve gathered of the series sales, and the latter is just a dead franchise that was never popular to begin with.

Finally we have the Monster Hunter, and it’s mostly there because of the music tracks present in Ultimate alongside the addition of Rathalos as a boss, but I’ve also read that Monster Hunter World became Capcom’s best selling game of all time, and while initially the series had a similar fate to DQ (popular in Japan but not elsewhere), it has slowly but surely gained appeal worldwide from Tri and onwards. Alternatively a Resident Evil character could be added now that Sakurai doesn’t seem to mind having characters wield guns as weapons, and that has more iconic choices than a nameless hunter, but they don’t have the advantage of content being already present in Smash so I feel MH has the edge here.

I’ll repeat I’m fully ready to just end up getting Joker should no one else from my wishlist make it into the game and be perfectly fine with it, but that’s not to say other things can’t be hoped for the game. Other additions have been made to the game through updates like adding multiplayer to the spirits board and now the stage builder, so there’s a few more things I’m hoping to see before the game stops being supported outside of maybe balance patches and bug fixes.

  • Missing Stages: while some of them are a bit redundant in design and others are just not great to play on, I feel returning stages are the most important thing after fighters to come back to make Ultimate be the complete love letter to the series it aims to be. It’s absolutely not a deal breaker, but I’d still like to see at least more unique stages that can’t quite be recreated by the stage creator or have similar counterparts make it back, like Poke Floats, Jungle Hijinx and Orbital Gate Assault.
  • Target Test and Board the Platforms: so I fully understand why this one has been cut as creating an original stage for every single one of the fighters would be too time consuming, and having generic layouts like Brawl would just be lame, but the suggestion I’ve seen a few people mention of giving the option to build your own challenges through the stage builder sounds like a perfect compromise to try and bring these 2 minigames back after being missing for almost a decade (or two in platforms case).
  • A Proper Ranked Mode Online: I don’t play online, but I hear horror stories on how bad the rules based matchmaking is all the time, so I think it’d be only fair to give an option where you get guaranteed itemeless matches on hazardless stages if you so desire.
  • Quality Additions to World of Light: I know Ultimate single player adventure is far from great and many people likely don’t care, but I feel one thing the mode really needed was the ability to quick warp to areas you already cleared, as it gets really tedious to find the one spirit you might be missing by moving spot by spot individually. Adding a multiplayer feature here as well wouldn’t hurt either.
  • More Bosses: I feel the amount of bosses borrowed from other franchises was one of Ultimate’s most disappointing aspects, so I’d love to see more of them, like Eggman, Wily, Kraid/Mother Brain/Queen Metroid, Andross, etc. I’m certain this won’t happen but eh, could help spice up the variety of the final encounter in classic mode.
  • More Options for Stage Builder: the new stage builder is pretty neat, but I wouldn’t mind having some more things to mess around akin to Brawl’s objects, especially for people like me who can’t draw for their life semi-accurate objects.
  • Assist Trophies and Pokeball toggles: I love playing with items, I really do, but I feel some of the summons can be a tad too ridiculous in power or just not very fun to face, so while I wouldn’t want to outright turn these off from battles, I’d like an option to have some characters not appear, similar to how you can choose instantly who’ll come out of them in training mode.
  • Adjust the Item Frequencies: I feel as if the appearance rate for items is something more akin to “High, Higher and Even Higher!” than the so called Low, Mid and High. I see Smash Balls appear during the first minute of the match alongside a million poke balls and AT besides other items despite these being set on low, I wish this rate was more accurate to how it’s called.
  • New Assist Trophies: I know a lot of people hate these as they disconfirm some of their wished characters, but I always felt these were neat compromises for those who just couldn’t quite make it into the game. I can at least tell you I’d love to see Amaterasu or Phoenix Wright as one of these if they can’t quite become playable.
  • Additional Music Tracks: a pipe dream as I don’t think they’d waste their time making music packs even as stand alone paid DLC, but I’d like to see at least some more tracks from existing games be added to Ultimate, even if they can’t be new arranges it’d still be neat. At least there’s always mods to eventually change this.
  • Remember Players Selected Palettes for Fighters: I have zero idea why they only had this feature on 3DS, it’s a small thing, but I’d really love if I didn’t have to reselect which Pikachu or Robin alt I wanna use everytime.

And I think that about wraps up everything I wanted to cover with this blog. I apologize if it turned out too long for its own good. Thanks for reading!