My Favorite Games: 20-11#

20# Super Metroid

While Metroid already made a name for itself on the NES and to some extent the GB, both of those games are highly archaic and don’t really hold up nearly 30 years later, but Super is a different story. No longer being a confusing mess to travel through (barring its love for destroyable walls), with much better control, a bigger planet to explore, a lot more bosses and an awesome new set of powerups (that are so iconic most of the future games simply reused them withought bringing much new to the tablle), Super Metroid is as much of a timeless classic as most of Nintendo’s properties SNES entries. Maridia can suck up some of the fun with its annoying sand physics, but not to the point of ruining the experience. I was in a debate between Super or the first Prime, but this game is simply easier to get into and replay, much as I think the first Prime is still one of the best transitions onto the 3rd dimension out there, being my first Metroid game might give it a slight favoritism push too.

19# Ratchet & Clank Up Your Arsenal

While Spyro’s quick drop of quality after Insomniac stopped developing the games, I can’t say I minded too much when the Ratchet games felt more fun with their whacky weapons and silly sense of humor. One created the basic foundation for the series of an hybrid between a shooter and a platformer, Going Commando brought pretty much all the standards for the series with upgradeable weapons, armors and a better implemented new game+, Up Your Arsenal didn’t bring much new to the table, but it further polished it into what I consider the best experience of the series yet. The platforming unfortunately was reduced to a noticeable degree, but it also removed a lot of the less fun elements of the first 2 games, like annoying races, long and tedious spaceship battles and while giant Clank is still present one time, it’s nowhere near as bad as any of his stages in the 2nd game. It also has by far my favorite set of weapons in the series, with only a handful not being very fun to use or all that practical.
The Future games tried to somewhat evolve the series further, and I’ll say a Crack in Time comes close to be as good as this one, but it just didn’t quite catch the same magic the first 3 games did. My lack of PS4 keeps me from commenting on the reboot, but while I’m sure the gameplay is fine, the narrative isn’t.

18# The Legend of Zelda a Link Between Worlds

Debate over favorite Zeldas usually boil down to 3D entries, but as far as it concerns me, the 2D games akin to a Link to the Past are simply more fun to plow through, thanks to a far more straight forward pace, less emphasis on story (which simply isn’t the series strong point) and usually a less padded out experience in comparison to its brethen (although I’d say Breath of the Wild avoids most of these problems as well). Choosing between Link to the Past, Minish Cap and Link Between Worlds was hard, and maybe my mood might make me say something else on a different day, but LBW simply wins due to the better magic system, larger set of tools (made even better by the upgrades), fantastic dungeons and how much freedom it gives to the player on how to tackle it, the item rental system might make dungeon rewards lose some of their magic by always involving some sort of straight parameters upgrade, but it’s a blast to try out things with a different setup and order on each playthrough.

17# Kirby & the Amazing Mirror

While not my first Kirby game, this was my first Metroidvania ever, and maybe that’s why I enjoy it more than the average Kirby fan. Exploring through the entire mirror maze felt a lot of fun, while the new powerups are lame and the inconsistency with multi-attack ones is disappointing the system is still a blast, and the chests, man the chests, spotting them always felt super exciting to see what they’d hold inside. It’s thanks to this game that I still hope every new entry has chests with cool goodies to find in them hidden throughout stages (although admitedly Amazing Mirror wasn’t too great in the rewards category, while Squeak Squad did a decent job of improving over it). There’s a few level designs flaws here and there, and the game has some noticeable dips in framerate in the larger rooms, but nothing too bad that’d get me frustrated. It’s a shame the multiplayer function went to waste on the GBA, this concept is screaming for a revisit or at least a re-release with online on the Switch.

16# The World Ends With You

There’s no other game out there quite like TWEWY. Sure, there’s a ton of game set up on Tokyo, but few of them are quite as stylish as this, with excellent production values for a DS game, an incredible soundtrack, and a combat system that’s one of the few great use of the touch and dual screen on the DS I’ve experienced (which is part of the reason why the re-releases don’t interest me at all). The pin system is a blast to mess around with, and it becomes quickly addicting to level them up, see them evolve, obtain new ones through shops or drops, it’s all super fun. I wish I could hold the same praise for the story and characters, which really haven’t done anything for me on my last revisit close to a decade later, but the gameplay is just too good to not overlook it.

15# Devil May Cry 3 Dante’s Awakening

I remember when I first played through DMC3 I had the hardest time progressing thanks to how relentless the game was with checkpoint systems, making it kinda hard to get into. I eventually persevered and beat it, it was good, but I didn’t fall in love witth it. For some reason I felt like revisiting someday despite not being that crazy over it, yet something about every replay made me start to really get into the game moreso than I ever did before, it’s one of those weird cases where age makes you appreciate the gamme more rather than being the other way around (as it’s usually the case in my experience).
DMC3 just might have the most fun combat system I’ve experienced in an action games, between its excellent set of weapons and the fun combinations you can create with the different styles the game offers, there’s bound to be a style for anyone to enjoy, and the bosses are all pretty epic too, with the final one being among the best I’ve seen in any videogame out there. It’s a shame the game is bogged down some platforming elements, Dante might fight well, but his jumping prowess is super stiff, making trap rooms all the more irritating to go through, the camera doesn’t help in this regard either with its fixed perspectives akin to the old Resident Evils, and there’s a fair share of reused areas throughout the game. Still, even with these, DMC3 is one of the most replayable games I’ve experienced. The special edition thanfully makes the game a lot more accesible and adds Vergil as a fun alternantive to the campaign, but it unfortunately doesn’t really fix any of the other issues I mentioned.

14# Resident Evil 4

Speaking of greatly replayable action games by Capcom, Resident Evil 4 hooked me in from the very first minute the game started. The gunplay is excellent, and while the game still has somewhat tanky controls, they’re nowhere near as stiff and unenjoyable as its predeccesors, but above all else the game shines in content. The main campaign already has a respectable length, not too short or too long, and it keeps giving the player reasons to go back to it as you unlock the new overpowered weapons to break the game in half, that in itself does get stale after a while, but that’s where the higher difficulty kicks in and the option to play through the game withh a different set of weapons (thanks to the upgrade system they all have their niches that make them not quite equal between their class), and even without the main game, there’s still 2 smaller campaigns featuring Ada and the more arcade-y experience of the mercenaries, which is a lot more addictive than a mode where you aim for a highscore without leaderboards has any right to be. My only real gripe with the game comes from the cutscenes QTEs which always spell insta-death, an awfult rend RE4 seemed to start. Despite having a clear horror themed atmosphere, the tension of older games was lost thanks to the overabundance of ammo drops and just how corny the whole story is (even though this was never RE forte), and not everyone was a fan of that, but as far as I’m concerned, that wasn’t a steep price to pay, I wish I could say I liked RE5 even half as much as this however.

13# Bayonetta 2

Bayonetta 2 is a weird sequel, it’s undoubtedly more polished and better designed than the first game, lacking a lot of the BS that did by removing cutscenes QTEs (or enemies starting an attack in middle of them), annoying elemental hazards that damaged you by walking through the tiniest of their cracks or interrupted your combos when imbued on enemies and just a lot of other do or die situations the original loved shoving to the player (the falling snake bridge on stage 5 comes to mind), and while it has a moment or two where it decides to completely change its genre like the original, it’s nowhere near as bad (Route 666 can suck it). Yet its setpieces and bosses just aren’t anywhere near as memorable, a part of this might be due to the more repetitive “fighting while you fall/fly” and the fact bosses no longer enter a panic phase once they reach their final health bar, but I can’t help but feel that none of situations in Bayo2 really stick out despite reusing a lot less areas compared to the original. Still, at the end of the day, it’s hard not to put it on top, being an overall more enjoyable experience despite being a little less fresh compared to its predeccesor. Its set of weapons is also a lot more distinct and fun than the original, and that’s a pretty big advantage in an action game. Too bad the story is somehow worse than the original, it’s a bit easier to follow, but it’s still a whole lot of nothing remotely interesting going on and characters being over the top in the worst sense possible. I believe they cranked up the swears compared to the first game, and while it’s nothing I’m not used to in M rated games, it feels very juvenile and annoying in here. But it’s not a big issue given this is not the type of game to be played for the story.

12# Valkyria Chronicles

Being one of the first HD games I’ve picked up (the other being Bayonetta), Valkyria Chronicles holds a special place in my heart, and it’s not like it’s undeserved as it’s a pretty great RTS/TBS/TPS hybrid. The canvas like presentation already makes the game stand out in a similar manner to Okami despite having very traditional anime like character designs (by Raita of all people who I’m not super fond of), and the orchestral soundtrack is nothing short of charming, but the gameplay is also one of the most unique of its generation, I suppose you could compare it to Xcom to some extent? But I still feel they’re fairly different. Plowing through the battlefields with your army of scouts and maybe one or two troopers/lancers is a lot of fun once you start getting a hang out of the basic mechanics in the game, and things only become more fun as you start unlocking more options to tackle situations (with smoke grenades being one of the bigger highlights among these). The story in itself is nothing to write home about, but it still has a few moments I’m not super used to see present in war stories that made it feel a little less generic than it might have been, and the main cast of characters has certainly grown on me over the years as I revisit the game despite some more cringy typical manga reactions (I’m mostly talking about the blushing). It’s a bit unfortunate none of the sequels have quite captured the magic of the original ever since, even when 4 finally returned the series to consoles and felt almost identical to the original in mechanics, whether due to a boring setting, much worse lead of characters, cheap design, gutted maps due to hardware limitations or just a lot more cringe inducing moments.

11# Super Mario World

It’s rare to not have a list of favorite games with Mario not present somewhere in it, and while some might find the more impactful entries like 64 or SMB3, I feel the fantastic controls and sheer sense of fun World gives puts it above all the rest. World is just a easy game to get into from the beginning stages and plow through in an afternoon after getting used to its basic mechanics, and while not the longest platformer of the time, it’s filled with content with all the secret exits and extra levels the player can find out of sheer curiosity. It’s a perfect example of the basics any videogame should strive for, being highly entertaining.

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