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Anarky
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(04-01-2017, 05:01 PM)
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You almost got me Piston but you tipped your hand with Postal 3.
KDC720
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(04-01-2017, 05:08 PM)
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DR4 isn't bad imo, not really in the same league as the original though.

Some really great choices so far however. Kane and Lynch 2 especially, I feel like that game doesnt get the kudos it deserves. Good to see Condemned and World at War get some love as well.
WascallyWabbit
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(04-05-2017, 10:24 PM)
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catching up on this and that april fools post had me rolling, good job
Piston Hyundai
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(04-05-2017, 11:06 PM)
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#65: Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
(Konami Computer Entertainment Japan - Playstation 2, 2001)



Metal Gear Solid 2 is the most Hideo Kojima game out there. Even removed from the once-in-a-lifetime zeitgeist surrounding it at the time of its release, it's just fucking crazy.

It helps that it's pretty damn good, too.

The controls and mechanics established in MGS are polished up and expanded upon, but Sons of Liberty's gameplay is really about the little things. Take the first-person aiming mode, for example. It might be a godsend for making accurate shots (which was a bit of an issue in MGS), but it's what the game does with this newfound precision that makes it a memorable feature. A normal game would use the feature to stress the importance of headshots and little else, but here you can use it to hold up guards, shoot out their radios, disable body parts, and all sorts of other stuff. This was the first game in the series to really let players experiment with the tools and abilities they're given, and discovering all of the delightfully weird shit you can do is one of the best parts of the game.

I've always had a preference for the present day/future games of the series, and one of the reasons is because I love the presentation. There's a slickness to Metal Gear Solid 1 and 2 in particular that I really enjoy. The interface has that "we just watched the Matrix" high-tech vibe, and the music integrates the classic MGS action film soundtrack style with a bit of a sci-fi theme, especially in the later sections of the game. This combined with the crisp, clean look of it all is a perfect fit for the pseudo-futuristic environments that Big Shell provides.

I don't want to talk about the story that much, but at the same time, it's the main attraction. It's an amazing spectacle, and I don't want to spoil anything since it's something you should absolutely experience yourself. It's a monumentally insane conveyor belt of ridiculous setpieces and grand reveals, as well as grander reveals that reveal that said reveals were actually total bullshit. I cannot understate how much of a landmark experience it is. It's one of a kind, even considering other games in the series.

We're never going to get another game like Metal Gear Solid 2. The window for a marquee AAA game as "what the fuck" in its impact as Sons of Liberty closed pretty quickly after its release, even before society began to resemble Hideo Kojima's vision of a post-truth future (seriously, the story goes places). You just can't keep the lid on secrets as huge as the ones in MGS2 anymore.



#64: Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
(Sumo Digital - PC, 2013)



Mario Kart is cool and all, but each game feels like it was made by a different team. The series doesn't progress so much as it loosely throws concepts and mechanics together with each entry. Mario Kart DS easily had the best single-player content in the series in its Mission Mode, but it was never seen again after that. New vehicles like double-seater cars and motorcycles would only be seen in their respective entries. After eight games, it feels like there are still problems that need to be solved with the gameplay, some of which were already addressed before, only to reappear all over again.

Meanwhile, it took Sumo Digital two games to nail it. Seemingly unsatisfied with making the greatest arcade racer, Sumo also went and made the best kart racer with Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed.

The "All-Stars" roster is strange, but not in that Fighters Megamix/Super Smash Bros. way. You have the requisite Sonic characters and icons of SEGA's past, but more notably, you're given a bizarre reminder of SEGA's newfound status as a PC powerhouse with characters like Football Manager, a Total War shogun and a tank-riding Russian general from Company of Heroes. Even stranger, the guest characters are the likes of Danica Patrick and a third of the Team Fortress classes (plus an admittedly inspired appearance by Wreck-It Ralph). It's a cast that's as odd as SEGA's current place in the industry, and it's kind of amazing.

The driving (and boating and flying) is fantastic. It's one of those "easy to pick up, hard to master" games where basic actions are simple, but there's so much potential for speed boosts that it'll be a while before you're an expert at the game. Remember what I said about jumps being the secret sauce of a fun kart racer? That holds up here. In mid-air, you can use the right analog stick to do flips and rolls, which can be used to adjust your landing and gives you a boost based on how many you do in a single jump. Even the flying takes this into account, as rolling and flipping out of harm's way or into vehicle transformations will grant you similar boosts. Like Crash Team Racing, a lot of the racing is about getting as many boosts as you can from your jumps and your drifting. There's three levels of boosts to be gained from drifting, and you can actually maintain a boost over multiple drifts, which allows you to get a level three boost over the course of several turns. This adds a lot of depth to the time attack modes in particular, taking something that's typically the most vanilla option in racing games and making it about managing boosts as much as it is finding the best way through a course.

There is a hell of a lot to do in this game. There's the expected Grand Prix mode, but the main single-player mode, World Tour, is a fleshed out version of Mario Kart DS's Mission Mode, and features 58 different challenges spread across nine types of events. There's boss battles, drift challenges, battle races where you have limited lives, and all sorts of other stuff. It keeps your attention much more than a campaign full of standard racing would, and the multiple difficulties add more to the challenges than you'd think. Multiplayer is also just as fun, featuring a battle mode that, in a departure from the Mario Kart series, doesn't need a rerelease to not be total dogshit. There's even a goofy CTF mode that's much better than you'd think. Regardless of how many people you play it with, this is a game that has legs, something you can't say about too many other kart racers.

With Diddy Kong Racing's variety of vehicles, the substantial single-player modes of Mario Kart DS, and Crash Team Racing's boost-heavy racing, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed feels like a best-of compilation of the genre, plucking the greatest assets from a variety of different kart racers and putting it all together in a package tailor-made for SEGA diehards. It's hard to imagine a better game of its kind.



#63: The Revenge of Shinobi
(SEGA - Genesis, 1989)



The Revenge of Shinobi is a really fucking cool video game. It's cool in that silly "little kid's daydream" kind of sense: "Wouldn't it be awesome if you were, like, this ninja, and you were throwing ninja stars around and fighting the Terminator but then he turns into the Incredible Hulk and then, and then you're on a highway avoiding cars running right into you and there are these nuns walking around but when you're not looking they take off their robes and they're these badass lady ninjas in disguise, and then you use your ninja magic to explode while you're fighting Spider-Man and Batman and then"

You think I'm kidding, but this is a 100% accurate description of the game. And it is awesome.

It's funny. Typically, "fast" is one of the first things many people would use to describe a ninja, but the Shinobi games didn't really play into that stereotype until Shinobi III. Up until then, Shinobi was a slower-paced series of action-platformers, more closely resembling Rolling Thunder or the earlier Castlevania games than something like Ninja Gaiden. If there's one ninja trait that Revenge of Shinobi relies on, it's precision. The controls are appropriately tight, and the sense of control over your movements means that deaths are almost always on you. Revenge of Shinobi is a methodically paced game, and the level design demands that you be on your shit. Even something as simple as a double jump requires accurate timing, meaning that a gap that'd be basic in any other game has you on the edge of your seat here. There's plenty of action, but the pace and difficulty means that there's more tension to the gameplay than anything.

This is a pretty early Genesis game, so it has a fairly basic look to it. That isn't to say the game looks bad, though: the art direction does a great job of supporting the ninja aesthetic. The soundtrack, however, is one of the best of all time. It's a Yuzo Koshiro joint, so there's no shortage of bangers that make great use of the Genesis' YM2612 soundchip. I mean, listen to those God damn drums. It's not as sample-heavy as his later work, but there's excellent instrumentation nonetheless, and all of the compositions are amazing. There's a reason the man's name is on the damn title screen.

The Revenge of Shinobi is one of those rare action games that realizes you don't have to have things going a mile a minute to be exciting. Even if none of the game piques your interest, you should check it out on YouTube just for how brazen it is with its copyright infringement. Every other boss is a lawsuit waiting to happen.



#62: South Park: The Stick of Truth
(Obsidian Entertainment - PC, 2014)



It may be a low bar to clear, especially compared to other mediums, but South Park: The Stick of Truth is the funniest video game ever made.

Sure, it's a very good action-RPG in the vein Paper Mario, but its comedy is what solidifies its spot on the list. The jokes hit hard and hit often, which is the perfect encouragement for the player to read all of the flavor text and discover everything the game has to offer. I don't want to really give any jokes away (except for, you know, the one seen above), so I'll leave it at this: Stick of Truth is the ridiculous and shocking kind of stupid that South Park excels at, and I love it. It throws all sorts of dumb bullshit out there without being overly preachy or ripped-from-the-headlines (as many later episodes of the show can be).

Simply put, the aesthetic is a perfect recreation of South Park's crude style. Everything from the voice acting to the paper cut-out look is entirely accurate to what you would see and hear on television. It's practically a marketing line, but it really does feel like you're playing an episode of the show, and it's impressive to see how far we've come since the terrible N64 game.

Gameplay is exactly what it needs to be. There is just the right amount of depth and difficulty (barring a particularly grueling encounter with former Vice President Al Gore) for things to be engaging. If the game was any more complex or challenging, the gameplay would be more of an obstacle keeping you from the narrative than something that supports it. The game also isn't particularly long for an RPG, but as someone who doesn't have a lot of patience for RPGs that are dozens of hours long, I find its brevity to be an asset.

South Park: The Stick of Truth isn't for the faint of heart, but if you're even remotely into comedies, you have to play this game. Regardless of the myriad callbacks and fanservice, it's flat-out hysterical and a lot of fun to play, too.



#61: Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
(Capcom - Arcade, 1996)



A bulk of my experience with arcade games comes from a lot of time spent doing netplay with a friend of mine. Normally, we'll warm up with some Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo for a little bit before moving on to other games.

It's kind of a shitty plan, though, because half the time we never actually move on from Puzzle Fighter.

Truth be told, I don't really have a lot to say about the game. It's got a nice chibi art style and some great remixes of SF2/Darkstalkers themes, but ultimately I just love playing the thing. There's a certain rush you get trying to assemble and destroy a huge block before your opponent can get something going, and it always feels like you're one mistake away from a loss. The back-and-forth nature of the game makes rounds truly unpredictable, lasting anywhere from thirty seconds to three minutes. They somehow managed to make a puzzle game as competitive and thrilling as the fighting games its characters come from.

I have zero nostalgia for Street Fighter II, but I can play a disgusting amount of Puzzle Fighter in one sitting. Games like Tetris are great (and on this list, even), but there's something about making puzzle games competitive that hits a pleasure center in my brain that few other games do. After all, it's one thing to pull off a lengthy combo or clear a large line in a puzzle game, but it's a whole other level of satisfaction knowing that doing it's going to fuck an opponent over. Even if you're not the type of person to play puzzle games, this is an incredible timesink with a friend.

Just make sure you ban Ken.
smisk
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(04-06-2017, 12:11 AM)
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I can't even imagine how hard it is to come up with a list like this.. I don't think I've even beaten 100 games.
According to Backloggery I've beaten 82. Maybe I'll make a top 20 or something one of these days.
tonka
Junior Member
(04-06-2017, 12:22 AM)
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I can't help but feel with some of these entries that you're blowing some big ones early.

Intrigued to see the top half of the list
Piston Hyundai
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(04-06-2017, 01:14 AM)
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Originally Posted by tonka

I can't help but feel with some of these entries that you're blowing some big ones early.

Intrigued to see the top half of the list

I have to imagine you're talking about MGS2. I love the game, but it would be higher up if it played better.

It's a weird series, because I never really thought a single game nailed both the gameplay and the narrative.
nynt9
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(04-07-2017, 04:27 AM)
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Originally Posted by Piston Hyundai

I have to imagine you're talking about MGS2. I love the game, but it would be higher up if it played better.

It's a weird series, because I never really thought a single game nailed both the gameplay and the narrative.

I agree, I have a hard time ranking MGS1-4 with respect to each other. Each of them are great at different things. Overall I'd probably pick 2 as my favorite for the sheer WTF factor and how crazy it dared to be with its ideas.

Also, I wanna make a thread like this too at some point, but I don't know if it would be frowned upon since it could kind of become too commonplace.
Glitchesarecool
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(04-07-2017, 04:33 AM)
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Originally Posted by nynt9

Also, I wanna make a thread like this too at some point, but I don't know if it would be frowned upon since it could kind of become too commonplace.

There really aren't that many people doing this. As long as you put up a good writeup about why a thing is in a particular place, and not just some throwaway comment, it'll probably be fine. Plus you might spend a while contemplating your list before you even make the thread.
unknownstranger
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(04-07-2017, 05:40 AM)
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Originally Posted by nynt9

I agree, I have a hard time ranking MGS1-4 with respect to each other. Each of them are great at different things. Overall I'd probably pick 2 as my favorite for the sheer WTF factor and how crazy it dared to be with its ideas.

Also, I wanna make a thread like this too at some point, but I don't know if it would be frowned upon since it could kind of become too commonplace.

100 games would be way too hard for me to put a comprehensive list together. Not sure if I could even do 50 games. Even though video games has basically been my only hobby my entire life, I never played in depth more than 10 games on a console until last gen, and never or barely owned a number of consoles. For a top 50 list, I would have no games on any Sega console (though Sonic Adventure 2: Battle and Sonic Adventure DX would probably be in it), Xbox (Halo 1 and 2 would probably make my top 100), Xbox 360, Xbox One or PSP, and only one Nintendo 64 game would be in it that I played at my babysitters house as a kid.
nynt9
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(04-07-2017, 06:10 AM)
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Originally Posted by unknownstranger

100 games would be way too hard for me to put a comprehensive list together. Not sure if I could even do 50 games. Even though video games has basically been my only hobby my entire life, I never played in depth more than 10 games on a console until last gen, and never or barely owned a number of consoles. For a top 50 list, I would have no games on any Sega console (though Sonic Adventure 2: Battle and Sonic Adventure DX would probably be in it), Xbox (Halo 1 and 2 would probably make my top 100), Xbox 360, Xbox One or PSP, and only one Nintendo 64 game would be in it that I played at my babysitters house as a kid.

Heh, I just created my top 100 list after I made that post. It was painful to cut a lot of games I love. I'll start writing them up, then when I have enough, I'll go for it.
neurosisxeno
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(04-07-2017, 06:10 AM)
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Originally Posted by Piston Hyundai

I have to imagine you're talking about MGS2. I love the game, but it would be higher up if it played better.

#90 Earthbound

K.
Brashnir
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(04-07-2017, 06:17 AM)
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Originally Posted by neurosisxeno

#90 Earthbound

K.

wouldn't even appear in my top 100.

dealwithit.gif

neither would any metal gear game
neurosisxeno
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(04-07-2017, 06:29 AM)
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Originally Posted by Brashnir

neither would any metal gear game

I hate the whole series so I don't really care about that one.
Piston Hyundai
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(04-07-2017, 02:06 PM)
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Originally Posted by neurosisxeno

#90 Earthbound

K.

I mentioned this before, but I'm just not into traditional RPGs that much. I like Stick of Truth a lot more than Earthbound because the timing-based gameplay is a bit more engaging, and I find it to be a great deal funnier. Earthbound's a really charming game, but that can only take it so far for someone who doesn't particularly like the genre.
djtiesto
is beloved, despite what anyone might say
(04-07-2017, 05:00 PM)
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Stick of Truth was hilarious but very mechanically flawed. A limited moveset and spanning the same moves over and over led to complete and utter victory. I hit the level cap halfway through the game just by fighting everything along the way, as standard in RPGs. EB ain't the most mechanically complex RPG either (the Ice spells are too overpowered and the balance is a bit off) but it's definitely got more going on than Stick of Truth.
jaina
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(04-09-2017, 10:20 AM)
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Originally Posted by djtiesto

Stick of Truth was hilarious but very mechanically flawed. A limited moveset and spanning the same moves over and over led to complete and utter victory. I hit the level cap halfway through the game just by fighting everything along the way, as standard in RPGs. EB ain't the most mechanically complex RPG either (the Ice spells are too overpowered and the balance is a bit off) but it's definitely got more going on than Stick of Truth.

Yeah after I had somewhat decent bleeding damage, most fights were easier than necessary and I didn't have to think about tactics.
bobawesome
Banned
(04-09-2017, 10:23 AM)
I appreciate you putting in actual effort and not just making a half-assed thread with only a handful of the games being talked about.
Piston Hyundai
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(04-09-2017, 06:43 PM)
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Originally Posted by djtiesto

Stick of Truth was hilarious but very mechanically flawed. A limited moveset and spanning the same moves over and over led to complete and utter victory. I hit the level cap halfway through the game just by fighting everything along the way, as standard in RPGs. EB ain't the most mechanically complex RPG either (the Ice spells are too overpowered and the balance is a bit off) but it's definitely got more going on than Stick of Truth.

Originally Posted by jaina

Yeah after I had somewhat decent bleeding damage, most fights were easier than necessary and I didn't have to think about tactics.

That's probably a part of why the game resonated with me, to be honest. "Challenge" in games with more passive, menu-driven gameplay doesn't really entertain me that much, especially when the typical JRPG equivalent of South Park's bleeding damage is "fuck off to an area with slightly weaker enemies and grind for a bit" or "hope that RNG gives you the drop you want," which is something Earthbound is guilty of in places. Stuff like that really pushes me away.

That being said, I do love a handful of SRPGs like XCOM: EU and the Shining Force trilogy. That's the kind of thing that scratches my tactical itch, personally.
Piston Hyundai
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(04-13-2017, 07:54 PM)
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#60: Shadow Warrior
(Flying Wild Hog - PC, 2013)



Shadow Warrior's kind of weird, because it feels like a reboot made by a group of people that might have a respect for the original, but not necessarily a fondness for it. The story vaguely resembles bits and pieces of 3D Realms' game (mostly names, honestly) and there are occasional nods and retro easter eggs strewn about, but those elements feel like they were thrown in mostly because there's an expectation for it. Beyond these touches, the new Shadow Warrior is very much its own thing, and while I do enjoy the 1997 original, it's better off for it.

Before I get into the gameplay, I want to acknowledge an interesting (albeit small) trend. It didn't quite make the list, but Bulletstorm was a pretty dope game. The inventive way it encourages skilled and creative play with currency is brilliant, and it's something sorely missing from most of the genre. The game's regarded as a bit of a flop, but it must have done gangbusters in its homeland of Poland, because two different Polish shooters had takes on the idea not long after. While I can't get into one until later on in the list, Shadow Warrior is the other.

Shadow Warrior's bestiary is solid, providing a healthy variety of enemies that ensures that you'll be swapping between weapons somewhat often. However, you'll really want to do this because of the game's scoring system. Killing enemies in unique ways rewards you with "karma," which acts as experience that grants you new abilities and upgrades. In addition to this, you're graded at the end of each encounter and given bonus karma based on your performance. It's a great incentive to use all of the skills and weapons in your arsenal.

And what an arsenal it is. While some people go through the game's lengthy campaign almost exclusively using the Nobitsura Kage (a lethal katana which doubles as the game's MacGuffin), that's doing a disservice to the rest of the game's weaponry. The firearms all feel great to use, and sport interesting alternate firing modes (a feature taken from Flying Wild Hog's previous game, Hard Reset). As you might expect, the crossbow is great for accurate, high-powered shots to weak points, but the sticky-bomb alt-fire also makes it great for crowd control. One of my favorite ways to take out groups of flying enemies is to fire a remote-explosive bolt and wait for the proper time to detonate it in mid-flight, sending dozens of body parts raining down. The dismemberment system and a bevy of unique abilities make the Nobitsura Kage the standout, but the game is at its best when you're weaving in and out of groups of enemies, taking them apart with everything you've got.

Some players are colder on it, but I also enjoy the level design. It's similar to last year's Doom, where levels are divided into large arenas for combat and smaller sections where more exploration is encouraged. Secrets are scattered about, which reward you with money used to upgrade weapons as well as Ki crystals that grant the player new powers. They maybe could've peppered in some smaller groups of enemies to make the lulls more interesting, but these are the moments where you're typically looking for secrets and being given exposition, so I don't really mind.

Maybe it's the low expectations set by the source material or the lead writer's previous work on the dreadful Dead Island: Riptide, but one of the most shocking things about the game is that the writing is actually pretty good. The humor is decent even when jokes don't land, and in a far cry from the original game, Shadow Warrior rides the fine line between irreverence and drama remarkably well. Series protagonist Lo Wang (I know, I know) returns, but he's less a stereotype and more of a smarmy doofus. Most of the game's other characters are noticeably fed up with his shit, giving the impression that you're laughing at him more than with him. As the story goes on and stakes get higher, Wang straightens up a little bit. It's subtle, but by the final level of the game, his one-liners have a less humorous tone to them, and it's surprisingly natural turn. It reminds me of, well, Bulletstorm. The "lore" isn't all that interesting, but Wang's growth (ayyyy) and his chemistry with Hoji (a demon spirit he is paired with early on in the game) are a pleasant surprise.

The characters of Shadow Warrior are much less stereotypical than the original game's, but many of the environments still fall in line with Asian cliches (as Wang will helpfully point out). Cherry blossoms and pagodas abound, but I don't think anybody can really complain, as the game looks stunning. The level variety lets both the art direction and Flying Wild Hog's Road Hog engine shine, and they're equally impressive. Hard Reset was impossibly well-optimized at the time, and Shadow Warrior is no different: I was able to run this game maxed out at 1440p without a single drop on a GTX 970. Even if you don't have the hardware to crank everything up, this is a great looking game.

I have to imagine there being some devout fans of the original upset with the liberties this game takes with the IP, but even they would begrudgingly tell you that Shadow Warrior is one of the best FPS games in recent memory. Some people are turned off by the game's length, but I loved every minute of it.



#59: Forza Horizon 3
(Playground Games - PC/Xbox One, 2016)



I'll let my 2016 Game of the Year write-up do some of the talking.

Originally Posted by Piston Hyundai

Forza Horizon 3 may be the best podcast game you could ask for. It's one of the few open-world driving games that takes full advantage of the freedom that the genre offers. There's an absurd amount of content, but it smartly avoids overwhelming the player by letting them roam the roads of Australia, completing races and challenges as they see fit while steadily doling out more challenges and vehicles as they progress. Of course, the buffet of content wouldn't mean anything if it wasn't supported by excellent gameplay: the Horizon series' trademark pairing of car dork customization and arcade sensibilities means countless hours of some of the best driving I've ever experienced in a video game.

The real star of Forza Horizon 3 is the customization. There's a shitton of tuning to be done, but the most fun is had with the paintjobs and decals of cars. I spent more time then I ever thought I would making Dig-Dug themed Pookamobiles and searching the online galleries for all sorts of creative and goofy skins for vehicles. The customization even goes beyond aesthetics: after downloading the taxi skin for the Chevy you see above, I went and made a unique race challenge for it. I tuned the car so that it'd take off like a rocket and couldn't turn without drifting, so I made a skill move challenge in the city as a tribute to Crazy Taxi. It even plays Offspring.

I also want to take a moment to mention the multiplayer. All of the game's campaign is playable in coop, and it works surprisingly well. You and the other players are on the same team, and you must finish with more points (based on final positions) than the AI team to win events. It takes some of the pressure of finishing first off of you since one fatal mistake isn't as likely to screw you out of a win, but it more importantly gives a sense of real competition to the races. Even if it's a cooperative mode, most people you play with want to be the team MVP. If your partners are particularly cutthroat (as they should be), this mode resembles a driving game version of New Super Mario Bros Wii's hectic coop, and it's a blast.

There's so much to do, so much to drive, and it's one of the best looking games I've ever played. It takes the best aspects of Forza Motorsport and open-world racing games like Burnout Paradise and Test Drive Unlimited, and the results are just amazing. A desert island game, for sure.



#58: Mega Man X4
(Capcom - Playstation, 1997)



A while back, I got a really nice Trinitron CRT TV, and it was the first CRT I'd ever owned that had S-Video support. Most of my old game playing was done on a television that didn't even have composite plugs, so I was more excited than someone in the 2010s should be about getting the thing.

The first game I used to test that TV was Mega Man X4.

X4 is the first entry in the series to fully realize its futuristic, edgy "Mega Man is back, but he's PISSED" anime aesthetic, and naturally, it looks beautiful. Levels are colorful and have animated backgrounds full of small details. Sprites are smoothly animated and the larger bosses in particular are a sight to behold. Hell, the cutscenes are just straight up anime, right down to the laughable voice acting. The game's use of color gives it a vivid look without being overly saturated, reminiscent of something you could see on CPS2 hardware.

The Mega Man X games have always felt great to play, but there was an obstacle on the SNES that prevented them from controlling as well as they could've: the dash. With the dash's addition, you had three different face buttons dedicated to things you're doing constantly, which gets kind of cumbersome if you're the type of person to play it dashing as often as possible. Even with the button remapping feature, you mess up weapon swapping by mapping the dash to a shoulder button. With the PSX controller as well as the Saturn's six-button pad, movement and combat finally feels as good as it can be. You may think I'm exaggerating, but simply mapping the dash to the R2 button is a revelation. Combine this with a natural difficulty curve (this is one of those rare games where the final boss is actually the biggest challenge) and freedom from the SNES' trademark slowdown, and you have the best-playing game in the X series.

I've always considered Mega Man X4 to be on par with X2, my favorite of the SNES games, but that's only because it took me way too long to finally decide to play through the game as Zero. I'm not too big a fan of the character, but the Zero playthrough is a great "hard mode" companion to the standard X mode. It's fun as shit to dash around, slashing everything up and doing simplified fighting game commands to use special moves. It's almost like a more fleshed-out version of playing as Richter in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, where the new moveset forces you to rethink how you play the game. It's often more challenging and entertaining than the "main" mode, and adds a significant amount of replay value, something I've always thought the Mega Man series had trouble with.

I generally have a preference for the classic series as a whole, but it's hard to argue with the X series at its best. It's not the best game across the franchise, but it's pretty God damn close.



#57: Far Cry 3
(Ubisoft Montreal - PC, 2012)



Crafting. Skill trees. Climbing towers. Yeah, Far Cry 3 isn't the most creative game in the world, but there's a reason for the phrase "more than the sum of its parts."

It's astounding how well all of FC3's gameplay mechanics come together in the single-player mode. Exploration strikes just the right balance of density: the Rook Islands are large and varied enough that you'll always be close to something fun to do, but it doesn't overwhelm you like many open-world games and even later Ubisoft games can. You aren't beaten over the head with the game's various side activities, so for the most part you can engage them as you see fit. The combat is immensely satisfying, and the skills you earn are both useful and impressively natural to pull off, giving weight to the upgrade system. The game's weapons and vehicles are equally fun and valuable, and are doled out consistently. It's a total kid in a candy store feeling, along with a really impressive sense of progress. Hell, the combat alone was fun enough for me to reach the top multiplayer rank in the game's Left 4 Dead-like cooperative mode.

The critical path features a lot of fun setpieces (a certain mission where you use a flamethrower to make it bun dem comes to mind), but the real meat of the game is taking over the various outposts. You can approach them from wherever you want, with whatever equipment you want. Want to snipe the lock off of an animal's cage and let a tiger do all the work for you? You can do that. Want to silently murder everybody in sight with nothing but a knife? Go for it. Not every second is a story, but the freedom the game offers you with the outposts leads to countless memorable moments nonetheless.

The story in Far Cry 3 is traaaash. Protagonist Jason Brody sucks, his shitty friends suck, and the QTE boss fights suck. I can't entirely count it as a strike against the game, though. There are some serious issues (for starters, the bad ending happens not because I wanted to see Jason take the final step in shedding his identity as a privileged shithead and become a heartless warrior, but because I'm a "misogynst idiot" that wanted to save a girl that I don't believe anyone ever actually thought needed saving), but it's amusing in its schlockiness. Maybe I just don't care enough about storylines of games, but Michael Mando's intense performance as Vaas (furthered by the game's stellar graphics) was enough to satisfy me.

It's easy to look at the features of Far Cry 3 in 2017 and roll your eyes, but it's still a wonderful game. It's not its fault that the industry took all of its features and regurgitated them ad nauseam. After all, you don't discredit the Chappelle's Shows and Simpsons of the world because they led to Mind of Mencias and Family Guys.

and besides you guys we only got the simpsons because of the flintstones and we only got the flintstones because of the honeym-



#56: Puyo Puyo Tsu
(Compile - Genesis, 1994)



Originally, Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine was on this list. The characters are more memorable (if only for their amazing portraits during gameplay), and the music is more than any puzzle game could ask for. Eventually, I realized I was being a dumbass and replaced it with this game.

I adore Mean Bean Machine (and Puyo Puyo and Kirby's Avalanche and-), but I have to admit that it's mostly a race to a big combo. Scrambling to assemble gigantic chain reactions is one of my favorite aspects of the series, but once you've had a bunch of garbage dumped on you, it's hard to pull yourself out from it. In Puyo Puyo Tsu, the gameplay maintains a healthier competition, thanks to the inclusion of the crucial Sousai system. It's a common mechanic in competitive puzzle games today, but Puyo Puyo Tsu was the first game to allow you to counter incoming garbage with combos of your own. The back-and-forth nature that Sousai brings to the gameplay gives it much more longevity as well as an extra layer of strategy to your combos. Do you try to pull a fat combo off or attempt to get an all-clear before your opponent can get anything going, or do you play more conservatively and build puyos up as a riposte to a potential death knell? There's much more to consider as you play, and it keeps you on your toes.

Multiplayer is easily the game's bread and butter, but the single player is pretty addictive as well. There's a practice mode that's a relaxing contrast to the usual battles, and the arcade mode is better than you'd expect. AI opponents quickly become formidable, providing a stimulating challenge even for veterans, and the game actually takes account of how well the player does, as score is more important than it leads on. Do well enough, and you can progress from stages without having to fight additional opponents. This even changes the ending: if your score is high (or low) enough, your final opponent will be different. It's not a huge deal since the pre-fight flavor text is entirely in Japanese, but rewarding skilled play beyond the basic progression is always an appreciated touch.

Other Puyo Puyo games are fine, but its early outings aren't competitive enough and the Fever mechanic that dominated the series after the 2000s actually forces a back-and-forth a bit too much for my tastes. Puyo Puyo Tsu strikes the perfect balance. I'm a big fan of the Soviet Mind Game, but Puyo Puyo gives me the kind of rush that games like Tetris can only dream of providing.

If only there was a game that combined the two.
Last edited by Piston Hyundai; 04-18-2017 at 11:11 PM.
rottendevice
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(04-13-2017, 10:06 PM)
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I've been subscribed since more or less the start of this thread, and want to say I'm enjoying it. I'm less into the hyper-violent games like Shadow Warrior, but it's interesting for a different perspective. You're also good at writing.

I keep a running list of every game I've beaten (around 140 currently), but not all of them are high caliber. Maybe I could make my own list in a couple years.
Piston Hyundai
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(04-13-2017, 11:08 PM)
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Originally Posted by rottendevice

I've been subscribed since more or less the start of this thread, and want to say I'm enjoying it. I'm less into the hyper-violent games like Shadow Warrior, but it's interesting for a different perspective. You're also good at writing.

I keep a running list of every game I've beaten (around 140 currently), but not all of them are high caliber. Maybe I could make my own list in a couple years.

Thanks.

You'd probably have an easier time putting a list together than I did, since I didn't keep inventory. I ended up going down my Steam list and hitting up Wikipedia lists of games, going "oh yeah that game ruled, it's on the list" as I went.
levious
That throwing stick stunt of yours has boomeranged on us.
(04-13-2017, 11:15 PM)
Nice write up on Sonic Racing Transformed.
afternoon delight
Eat shit and die, Ricky!
Eat shit and live, Bill.
(04-13-2017, 11:23 PM)
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Well you at least placed 'hot takes' in the thread title OP so gobless you already.

My bile cannot be contained after seeing your order so far but hey, everyone's got an opinion and at least you provide paragraphs. A lot of wrong paragraphs.
Piston Hyundai
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(04-13-2017, 11:40 PM)
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Originally Posted by afternoon delight

Well you at least placed 'hot takes' in the thread title OP so gobless you already.

My bile cannot be contained after seeing your order so far but hey, everyone's got an opinion and at least you provide paragraphs. A lot of wrong paragraphs.

Hah, you can't just say something like that and not get into it. What's "wrong" with it?
nynt9
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(04-14-2017, 05:41 AM)
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Huh, I missed the updates to this thread.

I agree with your analysis on Shadow Warrior - it's super fun. It's is own thing like you said, which is quite weird of a place to be for a reboot, but then again the source material is scarce, I guess. What do you think about the sequel? It plays a lot better and has more variety, but the loot game aspects are kinda weird.

MMX4 is one of my favorite Mega Man games, and the second I played (after MM8). Love the aesthetic and gameplay. I think how much better the PS series plays and looks gives it an edge over the classics.

For some reason, I never warmed up to FC3 but loved 4. weird. I really dislike how the writer aligned himself with the writer for Spec Ops The Line and went "it was supposed to be bad bro, it's deep but you don't get it" but I never believed it. It always felt like retroactively backing down on a shitty story. The thing is, it claims to be satire, but it plays every aspect of its tropes with a totally straight face with 0 subtlety or indication that it's trying to be subversive. I think it's as dumb as it looks and the writer tried to pull a fast one later. Vaas cool though.

I gotta plug my own thread that has a similar concept (but not as good writing) that also has anectodes of my life as a gamer and also 100 games that didn't fit in my list. I'd love for that thread to be more active, so those of you who are into it can check that out as well? Please? ;)
MrCunningham
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(04-14-2017, 06:07 AM)
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There's some legitimately good choices here. I'd put Sonic Racing Transformed on my top 100 as well.. And Popful Mail. Revenge of Shinobi will also get a top spot from me too.

But really? Sonic 4: Episode 1?
jaina
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(04-14-2017, 06:46 AM)
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Originally Posted by MrCunningham

But really? Sonic 4: Episode 1?

Sonic 4 was an April Fools post ;)
cartman414
Member
(04-14-2017, 07:11 AM)
There's an important difference between Mega Man 2 and Super CV 4 that makes the former more fun in spite of any broken weapons. Mega Man moves at a much more steady, agile pace than Simon, as with any token Vampire Hunter, does. The reason Simon moves so slowly is because of the tactical approach to enemy battles that it mandates. With the 8-directional whip trivializing most encounters, there's no longer any point to him moving slow, and it just begins to feel draggy.

A more accurate analogy would be Maria in Rondo of Blood, who with her projectile doves makes the game stupidly easy, but more than makes up for it with platforming fun factor.

(And of course, Rondo and Dracula's Curse have multiple characters and pathways going for it.)
nynt9
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(04-14-2017, 04:50 PM)
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Originally Posted by cartman414

There's an important difference between Mega Man 2 and Super CV 4 that makes the former more fun in spite of any broken weapons. Mega Man moves at a much more steady, agile pace than Simon, as with any token Vampire Hunter, does. The reason Simon moves so slowly is because of the tactical approach to enemy battles that it mandates. With the 8-directional whip trivializing most encounters, there's no longer any point to him moving slow, and it just begins to feel draggy.

A more accurate analogy would be Maria in Rondo of Blood, who with her projectile doves makes the game stupidly easy, but more than makes up for it with platforming fun factor.

(And of course, Rondo and Dracula's Curse have multiple characters and pathways going for it.)

I think egoraptor's sequelitis video on SCIV covers this well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ww_PjqYQi5E
Piston Hyundai
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(04-14-2017, 05:58 PM)
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Originally Posted by nynt9

I agree with your analysis on Shadow Warrior - it's super fun. It's is own thing like you said, which is quite weird of a place to be for a reboot, but then again the source material is scarce, I guess. What do you think about the sequel? It plays a lot better and has more variety, but the loot game aspects are kinda weird.

It's not on this list, but SW2 was one of my top ten last year:

6. Shadow Warrior 2 ; I treated this game with the most cautious of optimism from the moment I heard it was going to be a more open world, loot-driven game similar to Borderlands. Changing the formula for a sequel in such a big way is always risky, but thankfully, it paid off. While I can't help but wonder what could've been had it been more similar to its linear predecessor (its short length compared to the 2013 original is likely a side-effect of developing such a radically different sequel), I have to admit I'm impressed by how Flying Wild Hog circumvented the pitfalls of loot-based design that Borderlands falls victim to. By making the randomized loot stat-changing gems that you equip on weapons instead of weapons themselves, loadout customization becomes much more interesting, with weapons becoming wildly different based on which three gems you equip on them. As a much-appreciated bonus, the comedy isn't quite as insufferable as that of Borderlands.

I like the combat, but it relies just a little too much on elemental effects and status buffs at higher levels. That, and the game's criminally short. Regardless of whatever anybody thought of the first SW's length, a loot driven game probably shouldn't be able to be completed in eight hours, side-quests and all.

Borderlands' placement later on in the list pretty ironic, in retrospect. In my defense, I was mostly shitting on 2.

Originally Posted by cartman414

There's an important difference between Mega Man 2 and Super CV 4 that makes the former more fun in spite of any broken weapons. Mega Man moves at a much more steady, agile pace than Simon, as with any token Vampire Hunter, does. The reason Simon moves so slowly is because of the tactical approach to enemy battles that it mandates. With the 8-directional whip trivializing most encounters, there's no longer any point to him moving slow, and it just begins to feel draggy.

A more accurate analogy would be Maria in Rondo of Blood, who with her projectile doves makes the game stupidly easy, but more than makes up for it with platforming fun factor.

(And of course, Rondo and Dracula's Curse have multiple characters and pathways going for it.)

You could totally make more apt comparisons. I was just using MM2 and SCIV's coincidental placement right next to each other as a chance to talk about both games as perfect series entry points.

And for what it's worth, I think IV moves at a faster pace than any of the NES games.
cartman414
Member
(04-15-2017, 06:00 AM)

Originally Posted by Piston Hyundai

It's not on this list, but SW2 was one of my top ten last year:



I like the combat, but it relies just a little too much on elemental effects and status buffs at higher levels. That, and the game's criminally short. Regardless of whatever anybody thought of the first SW's length, a loot driven game probably shouldn't be able to be completed in eight hours, side-quests and all.

Borderlands' placement later on in the list pretty ironic, in retrospect. In my defense, I was mostly shitting on 2.



You could totally make more apt comparisons. I was just using MM2 and SCIV's coincidental placement right next to each other as a chance to talk about both games as perfect series entry points.

And for what it's worth, I think IV moves at a faster pace than any of the NES games.

Still too slow for a game of its frequent non-challenge. Also, those slow moments of 1 and 3 are packed with challenging moments that engage.

Again, it would be different if you could move like Maria. Playing as Maria in Rondo was busted, but fun busted.
Nuu
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(04-21-2017, 08:15 AM)
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Holy moly! This thread is awesome. Crazy that I am inspiring so many threads.

I really love how so far these threads aren't doing any "safe picks". I enjoy reading about games I didn't give a fair shake or haven't even played.

Originally Posted by Piston Hyundai

Yeah, mintyice and bemusedchunk are really ruining my thread.

Way to go, jerks!!!

Word of advice. What ever you do DO NOT POST YOUR THREAD ON SOMETHING AWFUL!

Originally Posted by Piston Hyundai

#87: Popful Mail
(Falcom, SIMS, Working Designs - SEGA CD, 1995)



Remember what I said about Earthbound? Popful Mail is kind of similar: In a genre that's typically straight-laced to a fault, it decides to have fun with things, thanks in part to Working Designs' often-controversial localization work.

Working Designs was a blessing and a curse for a lot of people. They specialized in localizing Japanese games that wouldn't have seen a release otherwise, but in the process often adding their own embellishments to the writing and tweaking the difficulty to be more challenging. In the case of Popful Mail, their rebalancing work makes the game a bit more grindy and frustrating in spots, but it's manageable. The translation, on the other hand, is one of the game's best assets. People often criticize the light-hearted translations of other WD games like Lunar: the Silver Star, but the team's irreverent streak is a perfect fit for Popful Mail, making it feel more like a game based on a Saturday morning cartoon than a vanilla action-RPG. Even the game's more dated cultural references are a welcome reprieve from what surely would have been flavorless minutia.

Generally speaking, the game has great audio. Similar to an upcoming SEGA CD game on this list, a majority of the game's disc space is dedicated to extensive amounts of voiced dialogue, which is well-acted and lively without being grating like most (well, almost all) anime voiceover work tends to be. Without the room for Redbook music, the game uses the Genesis' trademark FM synth for its energetic soundtrack with excellent results.

The game plays in a similar fashion to a lot of other side-scrolling action-RPGs, but you're given a solid amount of variety and a great sense of progress. As you earn new equipment and unlock two other characters sporting different movement and offensive capabilities, previous levels open up a bit more, incentivizing exploration. The level design is large and open without being labyrinthine, and the combat shines in the game's challenging boss fights. If you're into games like Wonder Boy, you'll want to play this, as it's probably the best of its kind. Just this year, someone made a patch that restores the Japanese version's difficulty in the English version, so there's never been a better time to check it out.

This game would have been good if Working Designs didn't tinker with the game's difficulty by adding "challenge" by doubling all of the enemies and bosses health. Made the game much more unfair and much more tedious, as well as many areas you can get trapped in.

Originally Posted by Piston Hyundai

#68: OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast
(Sumo Digital, original game by SEGA AM2 - PC, 2006)



OutRun 2 is the culmination of all of SEGA AM2's work in the racing game genre. Almost twenty years of arcade racing experience is put on full display, taking lessons learned from games like Daytona USA and the original OutRun and using them to make the best arcade racer you can play. OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast is basically Super OutRun 2 Turbo, and introduces some crucial improvements as well as substantial single player content.

OutRun 2006 has some of the finest driving in any video game. It's the best of both of AM2's racing styles: you're weaving through traffic like an Out Run or Hang-On but also drifting and drafting like a Daytona or Scud Race. New to Coast 2 Coast, the addition of Daytona's slipstream drafting is particularly brilliant in the context of OutRun since it turns traffic into an asset as much as it is an obstacle. And the drifting. Jesus Christ, the drifting. If you're the type of person who loves drifting in racing games, you need to play this. Drifting is so God damn good in OutRun 2. You just tap the brakes for a fraction of a second and you swing around the corner like you shot a grappling hook at the apex of the turn. There's little else like it.

Outrun 2006 has two sets of 15 tracks, and while they're all about a minute each, they make a lot of content out of them. One of the things 2006 adds to the game is the titular Coast 2 Coast, which is the game's main single player mode. It features more traditional races that you wouldn't get in the standard arcade mode, but the real draw of Coast 2 Coast is its expansion of OutRun 2's goofy batch of side activities from Heart Attack mode. The more interesting sections of Coast 2 Coast will have you dribbling beach balls, cutting ribbons held up by pairs of cars, avoiding UFOs, and crashing into ghosts. There's multiple groups of these creative objectives on each course, meaning there's loads of replay value.

This is a SEGA AM2 racing game we're talking about, so you damn well know the soundtrack is fantastic. The series' trademark South American sound is present in modern arrangements of the original's classic songs as well as brand new compositions. There's more variety as well, with a handful of rock songs, eurobeat remixes, and even a few tracks with vocals (including an appearance by Metal Gear Solid V's Donna Burke). There's also a ton of bonus tracks from the original games, too. The only the missing from the OST is the outstanding set of tracks introduced in the 3DS port of the original game.

Oh wait, you can just mod them in. Nevermind.

If there's something you love about SEGA arcade racers, you can probably find it here. It's the absolute best of its class, and I can't imagine how you could follow it up. It's hard to get ahold of the PC version these days, but it's absolutely worth it, especially with the mod I linked above.

Fun fact: This was the last REAL Sega game. As in, the last title Sega created with their original teams and visions attached. After this game their pre-Sega-Sammy pipeline ended, Sammy dissolved and/or merged all of Sega's teams, and it REALLY showed.

Originally Posted by Piston Hyundai

#91: Mafia II
(2K Czech - Xbox 360, 2010)



Rounding off the first ten games in the list is Mafia II, a captivating linear third-person shooter trapped in a middling GTA clone's body. You're given a large city to roam, various cars to drive around in, and opportunities to customize your character, but none of that amounts to much since there isn't a whole lot to do in Empire Bay, as 2K Czech was clearly more intent on telling a story than making an fun open world.

Thankfully, the story of Mafia II more than makes up for the shallow side content. The dialogue is well-written and expertly acted out, resulting in endearing, memorable characters. The narrative is paced a little slower than most games, which makes for several pleasant surprises. Things that would have resulted in a two-minute cutscene or a "six years later" prompt in other games are given lengthy gameplay segments here, which is oddly refreshing. Along with the game's cinematic flair, the refusal to gloss over the finer details helps the game feel more like the crime epics that it pays homage to. The twists and turns that occur have more of an impact, and you actually get the sense that the world is changing as time passes throughout the story.

While the game will disappoint people looking for a sandbox, it more successfully serves as a window into the American metropolis of the 1940s and 50s. You can really get a feel for the knack for authenticity with which the city was constructed, and the soundtrack is a who's who of the era's musicians, a detail I thought never got the amount of credit it deserved, especially after Mafia III received similar praise. Empire Bay is there more to "take in" than screw around in, and if you go into Mafia II knowing that, you're going to get a lot out of it.

I'll save the diatribe about how L.A. Noire with suck-ass Cole Phelps basically did the same thing but worse and was loved by critics for another time.

I'm glad this is on the list. I certainly don't think it's top 100 tier, but it is a neat little game to try out. On paper it sound generic and in game it's...pretty generic. Yet something about it makes it stand out more than the traditional action based semi-sandbox game. You can feel a fair bit of love in the game from the developers.

Originally Posted by MouldyK

As it stands, Xenoblade Chronicles is the only legitimately good game that company has made. Xenosaga games are seen as mediocre and Xenoblade Chronicles X was also pretty mediocre. I guess there's Baten Katos but I have a feeling that if that was on the PS2 it wouldn't be remembered as fondly.
Piston Hyundai
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(04-21-2017, 09:29 AM)
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Originally Posted by Nuu

Holy moly! This thread is awesome. Crazy that I am inspiring so many threads.

I really love how so far these threads aren't doing any "safe picks". I enjoy reading about games I didn't give a fair shake or haven't even played.

Word of advice. What ever you do DO NOT POST YOUR THREAD ON SOMETHING AWFUL!

I think my list gets "safer" as it goes on, but I appreciate the kind words.

(also, I was kidding about those dudes ruining my thread)

This game would have been good if Working Designs didn't tinker with the game's difficulty by adding "challenge" by doubling all of the enemies and bosses health. Made the game much more unfair and much more tedious, as well as many areas you can get trapped in.

You should totally check out the hack I mention, then. It works wonders.
Piston Hyundai
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(04-21-2017, 11:10 AM)
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#55: Trials Evolution
(RedLynx - Xbox 360, 2012)



Trials Evolution is an amazing racing game. Well, it's actually more of a platformer, and you just happen to use motorcycles to do the platforming. Then again, it's also a bit of a puzzle game. Fuck it, it doesn't matter.

I could go on and on about the subject, but I'll try to keep this short: I'm not blowing anybody's mind here, but movement is the centerpiece of racing games and platformers alike. It's what they live and die by. The smallest change in a jump's loftiness or the responsiveness of a movement can make the difference between engaging gameplay and total trash. It's easy to laugh at the fickleness of some Sonic fans, but they got one thing right: the inertia, momentum, and overall physics of movement is the cornerstone of that series, and games like Trials are no different.

Trials Evolution plays like a dream. It's easy to mistake the controls as squirrely, but you can't approach it like a standard racing game. Flooring it and jerking the stick back and forth like a caveman won't get you very far. Every single little movement you make, be it the amount of throttle you apply or how gently you lean back and forth, makes a difference. You're in complete control of your motorcycle, and the devilish level design is well aware of that. The early tracks are relatively simple, but by the final tier of challenges, you will be going "wai-wai-wai-wait alright alright wait SHIT" for twenty minutes at a time. There is just as much focus in learning a track as there is in navigating it well: simply making it to the finish line of a particularly devious track is an incredible feeling, but going the extra mile and performing a quick, faultless run is unparalleled.

You'd think the high difficulty would make for an endlessly frustrating experience, but the Trials series does an immaculate job of managing the frustration that comes with constant failure. In most video games, the more you mess up, the more noticeable the gap of time between attempts goes on to be. Every little thing keeping you from starting over, whether it's a "game over" screen, a cutscene, or exclamations of having to "follow the damn train, CJ" can end up pissing you off more than the failure itself. Trials knows that, so none of those things are in the way. Restarting your run from the latest checkpoint is assigned to a face button, and it happens instantly, saving you Christ knows how much time in the long run. It might sound like a small detail, but it makes Trials difficult in the best way. Every fault is on you, and you can pick yourself right back up without it being rubbed in your face. Hell, if this wasn't in the game, Trials Evolution may not have even ended up on this list.

I'm a sucker for games with level editors. Even if I'm no John Romero, just the act of creating a stage is entertainment in itself, and the track editor included in Evolution is excellent. It's easy to create a track, but the features available really test the limits of your imagination. You're not even bound to traditional Trials gameplay: in addition to the Skill Game Circus full of goofy official minigames, a cursory glance at the game's custom track hub will show you all sorts of impressive uses of the editor. They're not all winners, but it's crazy to see what people can pull off.

I also have to give a special mention to the soundtrack. From your very first moments with the game, you're treated with the most stupid nonsense imaginable. The music that plays during gameplay isn't much better, with copious amounts of nu-metal and rap-rock that wrestler entrance music would break down laughing at. It's a masterful tribute to irony on RedLynx's part.

I loved Trials HD, but Evolution broke out of that game's warehouse and reached the pinnacle of what the series could achieve. Calling a game "addictive" is pretty overplayed, but I'll be goddamned if the poopsocks I filled while playing Evolution couldn't single-handedly support an entire ecosystem of houseflies. Seriously, it sinks its teeth into you until you load your piss jugs up enough to fill an army of Kool-Aid Men.

Figuratively speaking, of course.



#54: Wolfenstein: The New Order
(MachineGames - PC, 2014)



John Carmack once said a video game's story is like a porn film's: "It's expected to be there, but it's not that important." Fast-forward to 2017 and the only video game with a tasteful, well-made sex scene is a Wolfenstein game.

Think about that shit for a minute.

The developers at MachineGames (made up of Starbreeze veterans) have a history of narrative-driven games, but they really outdid themselves with this one. Their vision of a 1960 where the Third Reich is the leading global superpower is one of the best-realized worlds I've seen in a video game. Both sides of the war feature plenty of memorable, well-written characters, but the Nazi figureheads in particular have the kind of menacing presence that evoke shades of Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds. You see the rhetoric and outlandish technology of a Nazi-run Earth firsthand, but the New Order also answers questions that you wouldn't necessarily think of asking, giving you glimpses into the culture of the world surrounding the game. I won't spoil too much, but some of the game's best moments come from how real-world figures intersect with Wolfenstein's alternate reality.

The tone of the game in particular is a real marvel. The game regularly shifts from pulpy and over-the-top to grave and self-serious, but it earns every minute of it. Take protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz, for example. He'll rattle off the occasional action hero one-liner ("Wake up. You're dead."), but for the first time in the series' 20+ year history, he comes across as an actual human being. Over the course of the game, you're given a window into B.J.'s past as well as a clear picture of the kind of world he wants for himself through his inner monologue (superbly performed by Brian Bloom), and it goes a long way towards making him a sympathetic character while also giving weight to the storyline. The "fun" moments end up feeling like a necessary reprieve from the terrible shit happening all around you (the aforementioned sex scene very much applies here), and the game's darker moments are treated with the gravitas they deserve. You know you have something special when a chapter at a concentration camp is handled with grace.

Don't think I forgot that I'm talking about a Wolfenstein game, though. There's some grade A Nazi devastation going on in this game, too. Even if you weren't brutalizing members of the Third Reich, combat would still be an exhilarating power fantasy. The game isn't a total pushover, but you feel really powerful, thanks to the gore and the weaponry of the game. Your weapons look, sound and fire like they can strike the fear of God into just about any enemy you come across, and you can dual-wield almost all of them. Movement is just as satisfying, since your equipment doesn't really slow you down that much, letting you slide around as you go "BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM" with two gigantic shotguns into Nazis' kneecaps. Most of the game takes a guns blazing approach, but there are also moments where you can employ stealth. It's not as fun as going Rambo, but it's still a nice change of pace to sneak around with a silenced pistol (or two) and throw knives at Nazis' throats. The frustration that comes with blowing your cover isn't even a problem, since getting caught just means you're right back to playing "Gallagher with guns instead of a mallet" with some Nazi scum.

It's not often you come across a game that's as engaging for its narrative as it is its gameplay. There's shooters with better combat and games with better stories out there, but Wolfenstein: The New Order is one of the best mixes of the two. Here's hoping the New Colossus turns this game into #55.



#53: Crackdown
(Realtime Worlds - Xbox 360, 2007)



Some of you guys are real idiots, you know that? "Crackdown would flop without the Halo 3 beta," they said. "The multiplayer beta for Halo 3 comes with a free game," they said. Joke's on those dopes, though, since Crackdown is better than any lousy Halo game is.

Crackdown takes the "sandbox" part of sandbox games to heart. The game all but literally drops you into the metropolis of Pacific City and says "go." Unlike creator David Jones' previous work, Grand Theft Auto, the entire world is available to you from the start. Landmasses aren't unlocked based on story progression, encouraging you to do whatever you want from the moment you pick up the game. This freedom extends to the campaign, where you can take down the city's various gangs in any fashion you please. The game suggests you eliminate the lower-ranking generals before you take out each gang's boss (since every general's death makes attacking the capo easier), but you could beeline it straight to the bosses if you wanted. You'd probably get your ass handed to you, but it's the thought that counts, right?

It's probably a given that the game's superpowers are the star of the show, but the progression system is what really makes it special. Crackdown lets you do some really cool shit, but it takes quite some time to max out any of the various abilities you have, which makes leveling up feel like a huge deal. The powers themselves are fun at the start, but they only get better. After all, it's plenty fun to throw a car door at a goon, but it's a whole other level throwing the car itself. Even your driving skill undergoes game-changing improvements with each rank: Agency vehicles transform based on your driving level, turning supercars into gun-mounted Batmobiles that can fling other vehicles into the air Fast & Furious 6 style, and SUVs into monsters that can literally climb buildings and jump into the air. The restrained approach to progression is truly commendable, as it would've been all too easy for Realtime Worlds to let the player gorge on the coolest stuff as soon as possible. Instead, the slow yet steady leveling makes the moment-to-moment gameplay gradually redefine itself, getting better with each iteration.

Crackdown's also a fun game to just screw around in. It supports 2-player online coop (a rarity for sandbox games at the time) as well as an endlessly fun cheat mode (a rarity, well, now). Some time after release, the free "Keys to the City" DLC dropped, which grants a god mode plus the ability to control your skill levels, city population, and spawn all sorts of objects and vehicles into the world. If you're creative, you can set up a domino effect of explosives, stack cars on top of each other, and do all sorts of goofy things. My personal favorite diversion was spawning ramp trucks ahead of me as I drove, making huge jumps wherever I wanted. Between this and the plethora of side-activities, there's a lot to do in the game, and all of it's a great time.

One of the game's qualities that I think often gets left out of discussion is how stylish it all is. There's no shortage of little touches that serve no purpose beyond just being cool. As you level up your agent, his appearance changes to show growth, including characters aging (my favorite being one agent's buzz cut having streaks of grey) or sporting better equipment. Each faction's territory has its own portion of the soundtrack associated to it (for example, the South American cartel's area will play music from Molotov and Kinky), giving their locations a distinct feeling. A stern, anonymous Agency leader narrates the game's storyline and will comment during gameplay from the shadows. There's just the slightest hint of cel-shading, giving characters a bit of a comic book look to them. Each play session begins in the monolithic Agency Tower, where players barrel down flashy tunnels that look ripped from an F-Zero game, shooting out into the city. There's plenty more, but the point is that Crackdown takes every opportunity it can to sell its slick, futuristic aesthetic. Hell, the main menu is a cinematic time-lapse panorama of Pacific City set to DJ Krush's "Paradise Bird Theory," and even the loading screen oozes style, using a breakdown from the same song.

It pains me to think about how there are probably some Halo fans out there who never even touched Crackdown despite owning it. If they had bothered with it, they'd have found out that the multiplayer beta for Halo 3 came with a free copy of one of the best sandbox games ever made.



#52: Castlevania: Rondo of Blood
(Konami - PC Engine Super CD-ROMĀ², 1993)



Castlevania: Rondo of Blood is the Castlevania game that gets it all right. It expands upon what worked in previous games while fixing what didn't, and makes huge improvements to the level design and overall structure of the game. It's the best of the series, bar none.

The gameplay is a mix of III and IV with some additional improvements. Similar to IV, you're not married to your jumps and have a degree of in-air control as long as you keep the jump button held down. However, combat feels more like the first and third games since your whip has reverted to the one-directional version seen in those entries (although thankfully the whip power-ups have been nixed, making it a viable weapon regardless of the situation). In addition to this, Richter Belmont's got a stylish backflip that can be tricky to pull off (similar to Revenge of Shinobi's double jump) but is a useful evasive maneuver, especially in boss fights. Finally, this is the first game in the series to feature the Item Crash mechanic, which rewards players conservative with hearts with a super move using your current sub-weapon. These mechanics are a perfect balance of making the player capable enough to avoid the frustration of the earlier games without being outright overpowered, making this the best gameplay in the series.

Of course, some people may prefer to be overpowered, which is where Maria comes in. Hidden in the second stage, Maria's one of the many ways that the game adds replay value, and also scratches that Super Castlevania IV itch when you want to keep it relatively casual. She has a double jump, a slide, a projectile weapon, and a secret move that makes a joke out of pretty much any boss. Compared to a Richter playthrough, the game is a damn cakewalk, but I have to admit that it's pretty fun, and you'll probably want to play through as her anyway since she has her own cutscenes and ending. Her scenes take on a decidedly lighter tone, which even extends to the game over screen.

The game's structure takes the branching approach introduced in Dracula's Curse and perfects it. With the PC Engine CD's backup capabilities guaranteeing that all players would be able to save their progress, Konami was able to get more ambitious with both the structure and the levels themselves. Not only are individual stages sizable with multiple paths through each of them, these paths often lead to alternate exits which can have unique bosses guarding them and, more importantly, grant access to completely different stages. Instead of being a cut-and-dry decision to make like in Dracula's Curse, the alternate stages of the game are hidden, which encourages exploration and boosts replay value greatly. You'll want to play through each stage multiple times to see everything it has to offer, and it's very easy to do just that. You're no longer committed to a single path through the game like in Dracula's Curse: if you want to find an alternate route right away, you can simply go to the stage select and pick the stage you want to explore. Having a stage select may not seem like a big deal, but it makes a world of difference compared to having to start the game from scratch to see a different route. The game's level design is perhaps Rondo of Blood's greatest asset, and it paved the way for open-ended design of its direct sequel, Symphony of the Night.

Rondo's got a slightly more over-the-top aesthetic compared to previous games. You still have the classic horror tropes and imagery, but that's offset by the more bombastic soundtrack (it was the first Castlevania game to have CD audio, so I can't exactly blame them there) as well as the anime-style cutscenes, where Richter straight-up looks like Ryu. Hell, this ridiculous bent bleeds into the gameplay at times. For example, one of my favorite moments in the game occurs when you're fighting Death on the top of a ghost ship's mast. Halfway through the battle, he retreats to the background and spits to the ground, as if to say "we could've handled this like gentlemen, but now we're getting into some gangsta shit." After that, he throws his cloak away, revealing a God damn samurai robe underneath as he equips his signature scythe. I don't even know how a skeleton could possess salivary glands, but I don't give a shit: it's fucking spectacular. I suppose you could argue that this more outrageous inclination is a little incongruous with the rest of the series, but personally it just makes the game stand out more from its brethren.

Castlevania: Rondo of Blood is the traditional Castlevania style at its absolute zenith. It's highly recommended, especially if you're one of those shitheads that likes to compare everything to Dark Souls.



#51: Trackmania 2
(Nadeo - PC, Episodic: 2011-2013)



No matter how hard I try
You keep pushing me aside
And I can't break through
There's no talking to you

It's so sad that you're leaving
It takes time to believe it
But after all is said and done
You're gonna be the lonely one, oh

Do you believe in life after love? (After love, after love, after love)
I can feel something inside me say
I really don't think you're strong enough, no

Do you believe in life after love? (After love, after love, after love)
I can feel something inside me say
I really don't think you're strong enough, no

What am I supposed to do?
Sit around and wait for you
Well, I can't do that
And there's no turning back

I need time to move on
I need a love to feel strong
'Cause I've had time to think it through
And maybe I'm too good for you, oh

Do you believe in life after love? (After love, after love, after love)
I can feel something inside me say
I really don't think you're strong enough, no

Do you believe in life after love? (After love, after love, after love)
I can feel something inside me say
I really don't think you're strong enough, no


Well, I know that I'll get through this
'Cause I know that I am strong

And I don't need you anymore
Oh, I don't need you anymore
Oh, I don't need you anymore
No, I don't need you anymore

Do you believe in life after love? (After love, after love, after love)
I can feel something inside me say
I really don't think you're strong enough, no

Do you believe in life after love? (After love, after love, after love)
I can feel something inside me say
I really don't think you're strong enough, no

Do you believe in life after love? (After love, after love, after love)
I can feel something inside me say
I really don't think you're strong enough, no

Do you believe in life after love? (After love, after love, after love)
I can feel something inside me say
I really don't think you're strong enough, no
Magic Mushroom
Member
(04-21-2017, 11:20 AM)
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Nice write-ups. Wolfenstein The New Order is such a well-written game.
McBradders
NeoGAF: my new HOME
(04-21-2017, 12:01 PM)
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Best thread on GAF currently.
daninthemix
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(04-21-2017, 12:10 PM)
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Originally Posted by Piston Hyundai

God damn, are 8 and 16-bit JRPGs boring. Walking around talking to NPCs with glorfied small talk like "I heard the plains in the south are filled with goblins!", spending eight hours fighting the same generic enemies so that you can trade in your Silver Sword for a Gold Sword, dealing with the same trite story beats and faux-orchestral music, it's all just oppressively dull.

That's a pretty apt summary of most J-RPGs to this day - it didn't stop being true when the 16-bit era ended.

I still like them, for some reason.
MassiveNights
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(04-21-2017, 12:19 PM)
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Good job Piston.
Nuu
Member
(04-21-2017, 04:18 PM)
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Originally Posted by Piston Hyundai

You should totally check out the hack I mention, then. It works wonders.

Holy shit! How did I miss that last line!? Will definitely check it out!
Piston Hyundai
Member
(04-21-2017, 09:43 PM)
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Originally Posted by daninthemix

That's a pretty apt summary of most J-RPGs to this day - it didn't stop being true when the 16-bit era ended.

You'd know better than me. I pretty much tuned the whole genre out 15 years ago.
Brashnir
Member
(04-21-2017, 10:51 PM)
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I was scrolling through the thread and saw Trackmania with some lyrics below it.

I didn't even have to read the lyrics to know which song it was.

Edit - also, if that's what you hate about JRPGs, you should check out Cosmic Star Heroine. It still has dumb townspeople saying dumb stuff, I suppose, but every fight in the game is distinct, and the combat design is S-tier.
Last edited by Brashnir; 04-21-2017 at 10:57 PM.
tonka
Junior Member
(04-21-2017, 10:53 PM)
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Originally Posted by Brashnir

I was scrolling through the thread and saw Trackmania with some lyrics below it.

I didn't even have to read the lyrics to know which song it was.

I too love Star Wars Metallica
Nuu
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(04-21-2017, 11:48 PM)
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I want to play JSRF. Being honest the praise of improved skate controls worry me. Too often people use "improve" as a way of changing up movement to dumb down the gameplay. There is a very good reason why skating in JSR wasn't like Tony Hawk. It's all about timing and precesion, and pretty much every modern game misses this mark.

Originally Posted by Brashnir

Edit - also, if that's what you hate about JRPGs, you should check out Cosmic Star Heroine. It still has dumb townspeople saying dumb stuff, I suppose, but every fight in the game is distinct, and the combat design is S-tier.

I'm pissed that the game came out around the sane time Persona 5 did. :(
Piston Hyundai
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(04-22-2017, 12:59 AM)
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Originally Posted by Nuu

I want to play JSRF. Being honest the praise of improved skate controls worry me. Too often people use "improve" as a way of changing up movement to dumb down the gameplay. There is a very good reason why skating in JSR wasn't like Tony Hawk. It's all about timing and precesion, and pretty much every modern game misses this mark.

I get the apprehension, but it really is better. It preserves the focus on timing and precision, but the trick system is more fleshed out. When you're on a rail, you can change your trick (which also increases your speed) with the X button or do a 180 trick with the Y button. There's an extra layer of timing added here, since you have to do it in a particular rhythm. It makes moving around feel much more natural while making combos more than just "stay on rails for as long as possible and do a 180 if you want more points."
Nuu
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(04-22-2017, 03:03 AM)
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Originally Posted by Piston Hyundai

I get the apprehension, but it really is better. It preserves the focus on timing and precision, but the trick system is more fleshed out. When you're on a rail, you can change your trick (which also increases your speed) with the X button or do a 180 trick with the Y button. There's an extra layer of timing added here, since you have to do it in a particular rhythm. It makes moving around feel much more natural while making combos more than just "stay on rails for as long as possible and do a 180 if you want more points."

I see. From what I understand, they are both different games. If Sega was smart they'd port it. JSR sold a lot on Steam.
Piston Hyundai
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(04-24-2017, 01:25 AM)
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Head's up: I have a lot of shit to do this week, so I'm going to take a little bit of time off from working on these. Expect the next entries some time next week. I didn't think this thread would take so much time, but to be fair I didn't think I'd have written well over 20,000 words by the halfway point, either.
T.Slothrop
Junior Member
(04-24-2017, 04:18 PM)
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Originally Posted by Piston Hyundai

Head's up: I have a lot of shit to do this week, so I'm going to take a little bit of time off from working on these. Expect the next entries some time next week. I didn't think this thread would take so much time, but to be fair I didn't think I'd have written well over 20,000 words by the halfway point, either.

Love the list and the writing so far. Looking forward to the next installment!
Vert1
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(04-24-2017, 09:09 PM)
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Originally Posted by Nuu

I guess there's Baten Katos but I have a feeling that if that was on the PS2 it wouldn't be remembered as fondly.

I'd highly recommend you play the game if you are under that impression.
SonicMegaDrive
(04-24-2017, 09:31 PM)
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Great thread. I like that you've included lots of old games and that there's a lot of Sega representation. And your writing style is humerous and down to earth. Looking forward to more.

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