It’s crazy to think nowadays about an era where Sonic Team did something that wasn’t disappointing 3D games, but Ristar might be their finest game that doesn’t involve the blue blur. It’s a fantastic looking genesis game with catchy music and some highly varied level design. That’s about as there’s to say about it really, it’s one of the Genesis finest sidescrollers. Later on Nintendo seemed to attempt their own platformer with a star-shaped protagonist that apparently is fairly popular in Japan, but it simply doesn’t compare to SEGA’s take on the idea, for a change.
29# Spyro 2 Riptos Rage
Nostalgia might hurt my objectivity here as Spyro 2 was easily one of my most played games on the PS1, but it felt like a big improvement over how desolate the first game was looking back at it all these years later. The levels are more distinct and fun, bosses feel like actual bosses and not just a mook in disguise escaping from you, and there’s a lot more variety on what there’s to do than simply running around on vast empty spaces collecting gems. Not all of Spyro 2 sidequest are great, sure, but the game gives a lot of leeway which ones you end up doing as you only need half the total amount of orbs to simply finish the game, and there’s honestly not much else to be received to aim for 100% and do all the less fun activities. Some might say the series had one last great game until it went through some mediocre titles until the Reignited Trilogy came around, but I honestly never enjoyed 3 thanks to its animal buddies simply being tedious to play as and the levels as a whole feeling rushed and lacking in design despite having some great motifs.
28# Ori and the Blind Forest
Ori is one of the most gorgeous and finely tuned games among Metroidvanias. The game is constantly rewarding your curiosity for exploring different areas and there’s a never ending sense of empowerment thanks to the skill tree system accompanying the usual upgrades. It also has one of the crazier developer teams with the team being spread all around the world, making the polish of the final product all the more impressive. My only real gripe is that the narrator that spouts some nonsense makes the story feel more pretentious than it really is, but that’s just a nitpick on my end. I can’t quite put into words how well crafted Ori is to make it justice, but it deserves all the praise it got upon release, and I can’t wait to see how the sequel expands on it.
27# Odin Sphere Leifthrasir
I don’t think there’s a remake that’s quite as good as Leifthrasir, as it took what was a pretty mediocre game and somehow made it one of the most fun 2D action games I’ve played. The work they’ve put into making the combat so much more fun than the original while making each character stand out from another and offering them with loads of options on how to tackle situations through their movesets alone is incredible, and that’s not even getting into the alternatives brought by cooking, potions and equipment. The story starts as typical fairy tale stuff, which isn’t bad at all but I don’t find it remarcable until the very end where it features one of my favorite final segments in a videogame, filled to the brim with tension and the highest stakes possible. It still has some repetitive problems as each character still mostly repeats the same stages and bosses, but I can let that go more easily with how much they’ve improved just about everything else. The game looks absolutely beautiful and has a soundtrack of equal quality as well, and while the PS2 might have struggled handled the hectic action with the impresive sprite work, the PS3/PS4 do the game justice at running with very good performance. It’s hard to believe this is based on the same underwhelming action game released in 2006, which it even allows you to play if for some reason you’d prefer that slow mess.
26# Portal 2
Portal 2 offers the same creative sheanigans the first game did with some new gimmicks in light bridges and gels, even more hilarity with the likes of Cave Johnson and Wheatley thrown into the mix and one of the most fun co-op campaigns I’ve experienced in a game. Even better is the seemingly endless replayability the game offers on PC thanks to the test chambers creator, with all sorts of wild results awaiting for those curious enough to try them. You could say the sequel was a triump and a huge success.
25# Pokemon Soulsilver
While I’m not a fan of the direction Pokemon has been taking in the last few years, there’s still a lot of memories that I made with the series, and nostalgia is partly to blame on choosing Soulsilver here over Black 2. Not all of the problems from gen 2 were fixed, and in fact, it even brought a few new ones thanks to the change to the casino and the mascot legendary now being a forced story event rather than something for the player to discover, but even with these, it’s far more accesible than the originals besides bringing a lot of the good new mechanics future generations introduced (although unfortunately not unlimited TMs) and a plethora of new content. That asides, it’s as fun as it ever was to catch em all and see a Pokemons potential after training them.
24# Alien Soldier
Treasure was known for super action filled games, and I believe none of them were as fine as Alien Soldier. It often feels more like a boss rush than an actual stage based game given how short these are, but maybe that helped it stood out even more at the time, as all of them feel very visually distinct and offer a fair amount of different strategies to beat them. There’s 6 weapons at your disposal to use, but really, outside of the seven force battle final phase homing should do for just about every single level in the game.
Okami is one of the most visually pleasing games I’ve played and it’ll probably keep looking good until the end of times, with an excelent soundtrack to boot. The adventure throughout nippon is lengthy and full of memorable moments and the celestial brush proves to be a fun element to set it apart from the series it’s obviously inspired by and its set of tools. Not everything is perfect in the land of Okami, as the game does overstay its welcome a bit after recycling content (I hate Capcom’s obsession with boss rushes), the dialogue sound effects get annoying pretty fast, and while the combat is fun, it can get a bit monotonous with how easy things are throughout the journey, but even with those in mind it’s hard to care much as you watch the wondrous adventure unfold.
22# Dragon’s Crown
I don’t think I’ve pulled a 180 on a game as much as I did with Dragon’s Crown, looking mighty unimpressive when it was first unfolded as most Vanillaware games were beautiful on sight, but not so much to play, but close to the game release it’s DnD elements made it look a lot more appealing than I once thought, and after a sale on PSN I gave it a shot, and it was well worth the shot. Dragon’s Crown is simply the most fun I’ve had with a beat em up with all of its classes and builds you can mess around to set them further apart, and while the main adventure is short, the game becomes addicting to the point that doing every sidequest and playing through all of the difficulties (excluding the newly added one through one of the latest patches) just sorta happens as you crave to make your character stronger. It’s simple, yet addicting, and I feel between this and the previously mentioned Leifthrasir VW finally learned how to make good games and not just pretty looking ones, it’s too bad their upcoming Aegis Rim looks highly unappealing.
21# Final Fantasy VI
My history with Final Fantasy didn’t start all that well, with how much I abhorred IV. I’m not entirely sure what drove me to get VI when I did, but I don’t regret doing so, as it’s among the most memorable entries in the series. While the stories have been improving ever since the third game, I feel six is the first one that implements this well with its large cast of characters, giving everyone sans the secret ones a moment under the spotlight, and the drama here feels effective (unlike IV with all of its fakeout moments), particularly the smaller character specific moments, like Cyan seeing his family leave to the netherworld. Giving everyone something unique to stand out is also something I appreciate, not really being a fan of the blank slate party you build to your desires, and while the magicite system leads to some unfortunate grinding and having the characters rely on similar strategies, it’s overall something I prefered to the job system in 5 or 7 materia (god forbid I mention the draw system in 8). The game can be a little mindlessly easy at times, but not to the point where my brain wanders off elsewhere. Need I mention the excellent soundtrack by Uematsu?