• Register
  • TOS
  • Privacy
  • @NeoGAF
  • Like

bemusedchunk
Member
(03-15-2017, 04:52 PM)
bemusedchunk's Avatar

Originally Posted by Randy

Only Mafia II here. That's why I love these kinds of lists. Discovering new potential gems.

top notch avatar right there.
Brashnir
Member
(03-15-2017, 04:53 PM)
Brashnir's Avatar
Always nice to see lists that aren't simply, "Here's the most popular and safe games I could think of."

It's clear even with the small portion of the list revealed so far that your tastes differ from mine in a pretty big way, but that's alright, I do enjoy reading the reasoning behind your choices and in many cases the reasons you cite for liking games I don't are not all that different from the reasons I like some of the games I do.
Triggerhappytel
Member
(03-15-2017, 04:59 PM)
Triggerhappytel's Avatar
I was with you right up until you said Pyramid Head is stupid!

He's definitely overused though - should have stayed in Silent Hill 2 only.

Mad respect for writing all this out though - I don't think I could even decide on my top 100 games, let alone write 200+ words to summarise each of them.
Piston Hyundai
Member
(03-15-2017, 05:07 PM)
Piston Hyundai's Avatar

Originally Posted by joms5

Kane and Lynch Dead Men is an ugly, ugly game...

Coincidence?

Ahaha, holy shit. It was a completely unintentional allusion, but maybe I picked up the phrase and used it subconsciously. Good eye.

Originally Posted by Brashnir

Always nice to see lists that aren't simply, "Here's the most popular and safe games I could think of."

It's clear even with the small portion of the list revealed so far that your tastes differ from mine in a pretty big way, but that's alright, I do enjoy reading the reasoning behind your choices and in many cases the reasons you cite for liking games I don't are not all that different from the reasons I like some of the games I do.

Honestly, I think the list gets a little "safer" as it goes on (the big name games are well-established for a reason, as it turns out). The deeper cuts are generally towards the bottom of the list.

That being said, I do want to go through a few of the honorable mentions when I'm done with the full list, and there are some more obscure games that don't make the cut but I feel still deserve recognition.
Triggerhappytel
Member
(03-15-2017, 05:37 PM)
Triggerhappytel's Avatar
So I started to list my top 100 games, and it turns out it's pretty hard from memory. I've put quite a few on there and removed them as I've decided although I like them they're not among my favourites, although maybe I should just shove everything on there and cull it all later.

Will probably need to consult Wikipedia at some point to make sure I don't miss anything essential.
Piston Hyundai
Member
(03-15-2017, 07:16 PM)
Piston Hyundai's Avatar
#90: Earthbound
(APE Inc., HAL Laboratory - SNES, 1995)



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. Earthbound doesn't solve all of the issues I have with the genre, but it addresses enough of them to earn a place on this list.

When you break it down, Earthbound isn't really all that special as a game. The gameplay is pretty standard RPG fare that often gets compared to Dragon Quest, and doesn't really bring anything groundbreaking to the table. However, there are still some clever improvements on the formula that prevent the game from being bogged down in monotony. The L button acts as a context-sensitive "interact" function, letting you easily talk to characters or check an object without fumbling through a menu. The odometer-based health system adds an extra layer of strategy to battles and also rewards fast decision-making. Enemies far below your current level will instantly be defeated should you bump into them, helping the pace of the game significantly. This all leads to an RPG that flows much more smoothly than its contemporaries, which goes a long way for someone who normally finds the genre tedious.

The gameplay improvements are much appreciated, but what makes Earthbound the kind of experience that stays with people well after they play it is how it plays with conventions that had previously been run into the ground. The refreshing modern day setting meets a strange plot about an alien takeover, meaning that enemies are often household objects or goofy pedestrians, and your best weapons are baseball bats and bottle rockets instead of the medieval JRPG staples. The aesthetic is a master class in charm, giving an impression of meticulously-crafted crudeness that perfectly fits the bizarre tone of the game. The music smartly contrasts between dinky, simplistic little ditties and appropriately alien-sounding compositions for when the shit gets real. While the writing isn't laugh-out-loud hilarious or anything like that, it's silly enough to make interacting with NPCs enjoyable.

Earthbound is a game that has fun with well-worn tropes that most other JRPGs don't give a second thought. It's not the second coming of Christ like a lot of fans would lead you to believe, but its quirky approach is more than enough to make you want to see everything it has to offer.



#89: Condemned: Criminal Origins (AKA Condemned: Psycho Crime in Japan which doesn't matter but sounds really cool)
(Monolith Productions - Xbox 360, 2005)



In the Fall of 2005, Monolith (the good one, not the Xenoblade one) gave us one of the greatest video game one-two punches ever. F.E.A.R. and Condemned: Criminal Origins were released just a month apart from each other, providing two sides of the same coin: F.E.A.R. is a horror-themed FPS focused on frenetic gunplay, while Condemned is a more methodical, yet equally intense survival horror experience.

Simply put, things are fucked up in Condemned. A serial killer is on the loose, birds are inexplicably dying left and right, and the city's homeless population has mysteriously lost their minds. You spend most of the game dealing with these vagrants as you fight your way through decrepit buildings, with the game's downtime dedicated to investigating crimes scenes which help further the storyline. There is a "less is more" approach to the narrative, as you only receive small hints about what's going on in the world around you. When all is said and done it leaves you with more questions about the big picture than answers, but few things are as effectively unsettling as the unknown.

Combat is a savage tug of war between you and the insane bums of the city. There are firearms on occasion, but ammunition is very limited and you may not want to use them anyway, since the brutality of the melee combat is so morbidly satisfying. I mean, you just fuck people up in this game. Even the less-challenging encounters manage to be thrilling in a way few other first-person games are.

Condemned: Criminal Origins has a great atmosphere, tense combat, and even a sense of mystique to it. The sequel ends up ruining a lot of that, but even that game has a lot of redeeming qualities. If you were into Resident Evil 7 but wish it had more focus on its melee combat, definitely take a look at this series.



#88: Call of Duty: World at War
(Treyarch - Xbox 360, 2008)



Alright, hear me out.

It's a really shitty thing to compare wars and decide which one you "like" more, but I tend to fall more on the World War II side of things with Call of Duty. It should go without saying that Modern Warfare was a generation-defining game, but World at War is the only game to take that framework and apply it to WWII. Modern Warfare's great and all, but I get more out of World at War's schlocky "Semper Fi, Corporal Kiefer Sutherland" campaign and weaponry than MW's schlocky "Whiskey Tango this is Baby Batter actual I need a sitrep on those bogeys over" qualities.

Beyond my preference for its setting, World at War is just more of a complete package than Modern Warfare, and set the standard for what to expect out of a Call of Duty game content-wise. A lot of people treat the series as little more than a deathmatch shooter, but World at War was the first of the series to show that it could be a blast cooperatively. It was Zombies' first and best appearance, keeping things relatively simple (and consequently addictive) compared to later games' overly ambitious iterations. In addition to Zombies, there are two different ways to play through the campaign cooperatively, with one of them putting a surprisingly fun arcade spin on things, letting players compete for the highest score. Finally, there's the multiplayer, but before I cover that, I have a confession to make.

I was that guy, okay? I ran around with an MP-40 and Juggernaut, covering my tracks with Bouncing Betties wherever I went. It was fun, God damn it. World at War's competitive multiplayer is an unbalanced mess, but let's not act like Modern Warfare was this grand chess game, either (the spawns in particular were absolutely ridiculous). Like Modern Warfare, World at War's competitive modes are fast and sloppy clusterfucks, and if you can accept that, it's a hell of a time.

World at War is a bit of a black sheep in the series, but the integration of World War II with Modern Warfare's gameplay systems really resonated with me. You probably couldn't reliably find a multiplayer match these days, but there's still plenty to enjoy about it.



#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.



#86: Spec Ops: The Line
(Yager - PC, 2012)



I'm not going to try to pretend that Spec Ops: the Line has this amazing, mind-blowing story like some other people do. It's really not much more than a garage band cover of Apocalypse Now's cover of Heart of Darkness, but even with that in mind, the game is a hell of a trip.

Spec Ops is one of the most visually striking games you can play. Every single aspect of the campaign has an element of cinematic flair to it. The sand-engulfed skyscrapers of Dubai are a stunning visual, with consistently excellent use of post-processing effects, something I often turn off altogether in most other games. The desolate streets and interiors are treated by the game's artists as a canvas, often adorn with elaborate warped graffiti, turning what would be a standard corridor to fight through in other games into a spectacle in itself. The game's cutscenes feature stellar camera work, producing some of the most picturesque shots in any video game. It even extends to what is maybe the best main menu in gaming, which changes based on in-game progress to reflect the tone of the story.

Like I mentioned, the game's plot isn't anything special, but there's still enough to the narrative for me to consider it one of the main draws. There's a lot of quality voice acting throughout the game, with one of the unexpected standouts being Kid, of all people. As you would expect from a game like this, things go sideways for the protagonists, but the game uses this as an opportunity to outright fuck with the player. I don't want to spoil too much, but the game does some really novel and unexpected things to sell the player character's slipping mental state, even directly addressing the player at times. This all ties into the game's multiple endings, which are equally as novel.

I consider some of the hype surrounding Spec Ops: The Line overblown, and the gameplay is about as standard as it gets (at the very least, it's better than Kane & Lynch 2 as a third-person shooter), but it's still a gripping showpiece of a game that you'll likely refuse to put down until the credits roll.
Last edited by Piston Hyundai; 03-30-2017 at 11:34 AM.
levious
That throwing stick stunt of yours has boomeranged on us.
(03-15-2017, 07:27 PM)
NHL '94 or NHL '94 CD?
mintyice
Junior Member
(03-15-2017, 07:32 PM)
mintyice's Avatar
Do you like good games?
Piston Hyundai
Member
(03-15-2017, 07:37 PM)
Piston Hyundai's Avatar

Originally Posted by levious

NHL '94 or NHL '94 CD?

Take your pick, really. The FMV in the CD version is amusing to gawk at, but neither version really outshines the other.

Originally Posted by mintyice

Do you like good games?

Love 'em.
Triggerhappytel
Member
(03-15-2017, 07:52 PM)
Triggerhappytel's Avatar

Originally Posted by mintyice

Do you like good games?

If this is a sarcastic response aimed at Piston Hyundai? Because he clearly does like good games - he's listed several of them already.
mintyice
Junior Member
(03-15-2017, 07:54 PM)
mintyice's Avatar

Originally Posted by Triggerhappytel

If this is a sarcastic response aimed at Piston Hyundai? Because he clearly does like good games - he's listed several of them already.

Top 100 Good Games of All Time
bemusedchunk
Member
(03-15-2017, 07:55 PM)
bemusedchunk's Avatar

Originally Posted by Triggerhappytel

If this is a sarcastic response aimed at Piston Hyundai? Because he clearly does like good games - he's listed several of them already.

Which ones are the good ones he listed?

I'm having trouble seeing the good ones too.
levious
That throwing stick stunt of yours has boomeranged on us.
(03-15-2017, 07:57 PM)

Originally Posted by Piston Hyundai

Take your pick, really. The FMV in the CD version is amusing to gawk at, but neither version really outshines the other.

I'd have to go back and dive into the cart version, but I recall a number of gameplay tweaks outside of updated rosters (which is probably important, Chicago was way overpowered in cart version). Ai goalie is less likely to swim, better in one on one situations. One time passes are more likely to be pulled off in the cd version.
TurboButts
Member
(03-15-2017, 08:04 PM)
TurboButts's Avatar
Its already well documented that piston likes the bad games. Now he's just making sure everyone knows

edit: how high is vanquish tho
Last edited by TurboButts; 03-15-2017 at 08:20 PM.
TrueHero
Junior Member
(03-15-2017, 08:17 PM)
TrueHero's Avatar
these threads are always cool to see, I'd love to see more.
Piston Hyundai
Member
(03-15-2017, 08:21 PM)
Piston Hyundai's Avatar

Originally Posted by TurboButts

edit: how high is vanquish tho

my PS+ expired before I could really play it
Neizel
Junior Member
(03-15-2017, 08:27 PM)
Subbed, this will be a fun read later!
Ragelink26
Junior Member
(03-15-2017, 08:59 PM)
Ragelink26's Avatar

Originally Posted by mintyice

Top 100 Good Games of All Time

LOL.

You do you OP. I like hearing unique takes on games that I either haven't played or wasn't too fond of. Everybody has games that they love that nobody else seems to.
Triggerhappytel
Member
(03-15-2017, 09:20 PM)
Triggerhappytel's Avatar

Originally Posted by bemusedchunk

Which ones are the good ones he listed?

I'm having trouble seeing the good ones too.

I mean, when you're basically coming in to say "I don't like the same games as you" does that qualify as shitposting? Because you're bringing nothing to the discussion.

For what it's worth, I'd say Silent Hill 3, Actraiser and Spec Ops: The Line are all good games, even though it's already clear my taste and Piston's don't really align. Earthbound is supposedly a good game and cult classic too, although I haven't played it.
Piston Hyundai
Member
(03-15-2017, 09:31 PM)
Piston Hyundai's Avatar

Originally Posted by Triggerhappytel

I mean, when you're basically coming in to say "I don't like the same games as you" does that qualify as shitposting? Because you're bringing nothing to the discussion.

Yeah, mintyice and bemusedchunk are really ruining my thread.

Way to go, jerks!!!
mintyice
Junior Member
(03-15-2017, 09:40 PM)
mintyice's Avatar
Sorry Piston :( Most of those games sound good.
Waddle Dee
Member
(03-15-2017, 09:54 PM)
Waddle Dee's Avatar
I wouldn't think to put even half of these games (the ones I've played, at least) in a top 200, let alone top 100. That's kind of why I'm digging this list, though. It's incredibly varied. We're already seeing so many different genres and styles of games. Some cute and fun, others morbid and tense. I like seeing lists that don't just pick the obvious answers (though I'm sure we'll get more of those when we get further down the list).

You gonna put a Kirby game in here, right? ;)
Stoze
Member
(03-15-2017, 10:00 PM)
Stoze's Avatar
Cool thread.

I had a blast with WaW. Maybe it's because of the setting and having semi-auto rifles which I have a soft spot for, and maybe it's because I'm misremembering it having not played in 8 or so years, but I might've liked the multiplayer more than CoD 4. What I do remember is it's one of the last games I played on a SDTV, because trying to shoot dudes from a mile away in 480i before they shoot you with a very low TTK kind of sucks.

Originally Posted by ScOULaris

After getting to your Silent Hill 3 write-up I think I'll pass on the rest of these.

#1 - Silent Hill 3 deserves to be way higher up on the list. Top 50 at least.
#2 - Your failure to include SH2 in your Top 100 games list means I can't trust your taste level at all.

Best of luck to you writing out the rest of these, though. Seems like it will take quite a while.

I don't even understand this mindset other than being a weird ego thing. Beyond the futility of making your own dumb arbitrary rules for others ranking games, wouldn't a list that doesn't fall under your tastes or you have disagreements with be more interesting? Especially one that takes the time to write out impressions and signal why the game is there for every spot in the list.
Last edited by Stoze; 03-15-2017 at 10:33 PM.
Piston Hyundai
Member
(03-15-2017, 10:00 PM)
Piston Hyundai's Avatar

Originally Posted by Waddle Dee

You gonna put a Kirby game in here, right? ;)

You're just going to have to wait to find out.

Nah, I think Kirby games are plodding and too easy.

Originally Posted by Stoze

Cool thread.

I had a blast with WaW. Maybe it's because of the setting and having semi-auto rifles which I have a soft spot for, and maybe it's because I'm misremembering it having not played in 8 or so years, but I might've liked the multiplayer more than CoD 4. What I do remember is it's one of the last games I played on a SDTV, because trying to shoot dudes from a mile away in 480i before they shoot you with a very low TTK kind of sucks.

Yep. Semi-autos are way more satisfying to use.
Javier23
Member
(03-15-2017, 10:20 PM)
Javier23's Avatar
Liking the list so far! Have you played the original Mafia, OP? Mafia 2 is one of last gen's most underrated games for many reasons, but probably due to a lack of time/budget and an excess of ambition the game doesn't quite match the brilliance of the original. Given the reasons why you liked Mafia 2 that much I feel like you too should prefer City of Lost Heaven.

I'll pretend 3 doesn't exist and just look forward to Kingdom Come. It had a chance at being good (and some people like it just fine), but the fine qualities for which all of Illusion Softworks' games are so special aren't quite to be found anywhere else in gaming.
Piston Hyundai
Member
(03-15-2017, 10:27 PM)
Piston Hyundai's Avatar

Originally Posted by Javier23

Liking the list so far! Have you played the original Mafia, OP? Mafia 2 is one of last gen's most underrated games for many reasons, but probably due to a lack of time/budget and an excess of ambition the game doesn't quite match the brilliance of the original. Given the reasons why you liked Mafia 2 that much I feel like you too should prefer City of Lost Heaven.

I gave it a shot a long time ago, but something was wrong with the PC version I had so the driving was messed up, meaning I couldn't get particularly far in it.
EGM1966
Member
(03-15-2017, 10:29 PM)
EGM1966's Avatar
SH3 over SH2? What! I'm going struggle with this list I fear. Citing "simpler plot" sure doesn't convince me I agree with the base criteria behind the selection.
Piston Hyundai
Member
(03-15-2017, 10:33 PM)
Piston Hyundai's Avatar

Originally Posted by EGM1966

SH3 over SH2? What! I'm going struggle with this list I fear. Citing "simpler plot" sure doesn't convince me I agree with the base criteria behind the selection.

The more straightforward plot wasn't something I put as a positive compared to SH2. It was something I was willing to overlook about 3 because I thought everything else (art direction, voice acting, etc.) was better than in SH2.
Brashnir
Member
(03-16-2017, 12:07 AM)
Brashnir's Avatar

Originally Posted by Triggerhappytel

I mean, when you're basically coming in to say "I don't like the same games as you" does that qualify as shitposting? Because you're bringing nothing to the discussion.

I kind of said that, but I still find the list and his reasons behind them interesting.
Piston Hyundai
Member
(03-20-2017, 12:48 AM)
Piston Hyundai's Avatar
#85: Trine 2
(Frozenbyte - PC, 2011)



Trine 2 feels like a long-lost sequel to the Lost Vikings that somehow found its way out of a dimension where Blizzard still worked on a diverse, interesting range of games. It's the best kind of puzzle game, where you're encouraged to play around with the tools at your disposal just as much as you are to think about solutions.

You maybe wouldn't expect it from a linear 2D puzzle-platformer, but it its core, Trine 2 is a sandbox game. There is probably a "right" way to do a lot of things, but the three characters' varying toolsets encourage you to pull stuff out of your ass and see what happens. It almost feels like a platformer version of the Incredible Machine games, where you can do all sorts of nonsense and have a shocking amount of it end up working out for you. The game rewards ingenuity every step of the way, be it through the game's cleverly hidden collectables or through some of the trickier achievements (many levels are passable without ever once changing between characters, for example).

The game's open-ended approach to puzzles and level design also makes for a surprisingly entertaining coop experience. You're given the choice between locking each player to their own specific character (demanding cooperation between all three people) and a mode where everybody has free reign of who they play as at all times. Both modes are a good time, but there's something especially great about testing the game's limits by having three of the same character.

The game's fantasy setting is supported by an absolutely incredible storybook aesthetic. In addition to the fairy-tale narration of the story and whimsical music, the game just looks absolutely incredible. Every second is a bullshot, with heaps of post-processing and painstaking detail. Some people think the game's excessive saturation of colors makes the game look garish, but they're missing the point: it's supposed to be. This is a tale of oversized animals, ancient wizards, and angry goblins, so the over-the-top look falls right in line with larger-than-life nature of the world.

In a perfect world, every developer would put as much love and care into producing their games as Frozenbyte did with this one.



#84: Midnight Club II
(Rockstar San Diego - PS2, 2003)



Midnight Club II is the kind of racing game that we really don't see as much as we probably should these days. You're hitting the handbrake with almost every turn, using in-air controls to straighten yourself out for landing a huge jump, and slipstream is more of a turbo boost that blasts you past cars you draft off of than a subtle speed gain.

The developers' Midtown Madness roots are readily apparent, with there being three different open cities to explore and race in. Midnight Club 2's versions of Los Angeles, Paris, and Tokyo aren't so much recreations as they are exaggerated playgrounds, with prominent landmarks serving more as tools at your disposal than set dressing. The Louvre Pyramid is effectively a giant ramp, and bursting through the glass doors of the LA Convention Center is one of the more helpful shortcuts in the city. The game is full of the kind of racing that wouldn't feel out of place in a Midway arcade game, and the sense of speed conveyed is impressive even today.

Being a Rockstar game, there is a surprising amount of personality for what is a fairly standard campaign. Each of the the rival racers has one or two songs from the soundtrack associated with their challenges, as well as their own cutscenes before each race that give you a glimpse into their inner monologue as you progress through the game. The characterization is what you would expect of an older game, with many characters sporting thick accents and plenty of tropey (sometimes borderline stereotypical) personality traits, but these little touches make it a memorable wrinkle to the game nonetheless. Gems of dialog like "I'll make him say 'Moses, I've seen God, and he weighs 280 pounds'" tend to stick with you, after all.

While there isn't much in the way of side activities in the game's campaign, it's still packed with content. Beyond the lengthy career mode, there's an "Arcade Mode," which allows you to play all of the game's races with unique settings (including the addition of kart-racer style power-ups), plus a set of 18 additional circuit races to complete. An unexpected addition is Battle Mode, where you can play a ridiculously fun version of Capture the Flag with the aforementioned power-ups enabled. You're also given a race editor for each city, allowing you to make your own races and play them alone or online. Where racing games today would fill their world with shallow collectables and one-off activities, Midnight Club II opts for something more substantial, with almost all of the content playable online, to boot.

If you have a copy of this on Steam, you should gather a bunch of friends and give the game's still-functioning multiplayer a shot, because it really is a blast. I'm probably alone in this, but I kinda wish that the team behind Midnight Club II was still working on racing games instead of the Red Dead series. If Rockstar San Diego was to take the jack-of-all-trades approach seen in MC2 and put it in a modern racing game, we'd have something really special on our hands.



#83: Snatcher
(Konami - SEGA CD, 1994)



Hideo Kojima gets a lot of (deserved) credit for the games he is a part of. That being said, I can't shake the feeling that a lot of people are being shortchanged with Snatcher. The game has a quirky, cinema-influenced story with the kinds of ridiculous twists and turns that you would come to expect from Kojima, but it's everything else that makes the game special.

Being a glorified visual novel, Snatcher lives and dies by two things: storytelling and aesthetic. Kojima games are known for their wildly ambitious stories, but frankly, Snatcher's narrative isn't quite as much of a grand spectacle as the Metal Gear games would go on to become. Not to say that it's dull (far from it), but what really hooks you into the game is the look and sound of it all. Snatcher has an outstanding aesthetic, thanks in no small part to some of the best 2D art of the 16-bit era. Whether it's the neon-drenched skylines of the beautifully-realized Neo Kobe City or the facial expressions of its many inhabitants, everything has an insane amount of style and detail (of particular note is the game's masterful use of the Genesis' relatively limited color palette). As I alluded to in my Popful Mail write-up, the soundtrack uses FM synth in lieu of Redbook audio for a majority of the game, and the result is an often menacing and tense set of music that perfectly complements the scenes it accompanies.

Finally, there's the voice acting. Snatcher would be the only work a majority of the cast would be associated with, giving the voiceover a strange sort of charm to it. Jeff Lupetin does a commendable job playing the straight-laced protagonist Gillian Seed, and Lucy Childs brings a strangely effective "Alpha from Power Rangers" type vibe to his robotic sidekick. Nobody's exactly putting on a clinic here, but there's few other games that sound like this one.

Snatcher is a decidedly Hideo Kojima experience, but the team supporting him deserves just as much credit for the game as he does. Even more so than in other Kojima games, the visuals and the audio elevate it into something unforgettable.



#82: Tetris DS
(Nintendo SPD - Nintendo DS, 2006)



Look, man: do I really need to tell you how God damn good Tetris is? I got 81 more of these fucking things to write.

Alright, just know that this is the best version of Tetris out there with really addictive local multiplayer, that dope ass "hold piece" functionality, and creative side modes that have cool Nintendo themes. It's not as high up as some other lists would put it because there are some other puzzle games out there I enjoy even more.

Okay, moving on.



#81: Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec
(Polyphony Digital - Playstation 2, 2001)



I'm not normally too big of a racing simulation kind of person, but I played the living shit out of Gran Turismo 3.

There is a hell of a lot of racing to do in A-Spec. Even though there's only about 20 circuits in the game, you get a huge amount of milage (boo) out of them. Simulation mode has 336 races spread across 85 different events, and they take full advantage of the game's absurd amount of cars. Each event puts various car-type restrictions on each series of races you participate in, giving you an incentive to try out all types of models and configurations. The mode's progression loop is immensely satisfying, as you work your way from Mazda Miatas and compact cars to the F1 circuit. Every new vehicle you earn or purchase feels like a big deal, as they often open new opportunities for events to play.

None of this would make a difference if the gameplay was garbage, but driving in Gran Turismo (especially after the jump to PS2) is maybe the tightest of any racing series I've played. As with most genres, I generally prefer arcade gameplay in racing games, but the series' penchant for realism gives a certain thrill to hitting the apex on even the most basic of turns. The rally racing mode is a little simpler to control and the lack of tracks make it more of a diversion, but it's also a fun time.

It says a lot about the quality of Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec that it would land a spot on list populated almost exclusively by arcade-style racing games. It doesn't need nitrous or insane crashes to be fun. Sometimes, driving for driving's sake can be enough.
MouldyK
Member
(03-20-2017, 02:02 AM)
MouldyK's Avatar

Originally Posted by Piston Hyundai

In the Fall of 2005, Monolith (the good one, not the Xenoblade one)

Glitchesarecool
Member
(03-20-2017, 02:06 AM)
Glitchesarecool's Avatar
Tetris DS is arguably the best Tetris, although Puyo Puyo Tetris is pretty good.
Piston Hyundai
Member
(03-20-2017, 02:19 AM)
Piston Hyundai's Avatar

Originally Posted by MouldyK

.

Glad I got at least one person with that.

I could put "the better one" and it'd be more accurate.
StoveOven
Member
(03-20-2017, 05:48 PM)
StoveOven's Avatar
I typically love puzzle games, but something about Trine 2 just never clicked with me. I've tried to get into it multiple times but always end up dropping it. You're right about it having a cool aesthetic though. Also, you're dead on with Tetris DS being the best version of Tetris
MouldyK
Member
(03-21-2017, 12:20 AM)
MouldyK's Avatar

Originally Posted by Piston Hyundai

Glad I got at least one person with that.

I could put "the better one" and it'd be more accurate.

Kientin
Member
(03-21-2017, 01:49 AM)
Kientin's Avatar
Having fun reading so far, even though our tastes don't seem super compatible. I like seeing different opinions on these games. I have no idea how you decided where a game fits on your list. I have a hard time pinning down my top 5 and it shifts a bit yearly.

Earthbound is in my top 5... ;_;
Piston Hyundai
Member
(03-21-2017, 07:05 AM)
Piston Hyundai's Avatar

Originally Posted by MouldyK

(another gif)

Monolith's been around a long time and have made some incredible games. They made F.E.A.R. 1 and 2, Condemned 1 and 2, No One Lives Forever 1 and 2, Shogo, Shadow of Mordor, Tron 2.0 and AVP2. Hell, they debuted with Blood, which a surprising amount of people consider to be the best game on the Build engine (Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior, etc.).

The only Monolith Soft game that comes to mind that most people would consider great is Xenoblade Chronicles.

Originally Posted by Kientin

Earthbound is in my top 5... ;_;

I'm not really a JRPG guy at all, otherwise it'd be higher.
JamesJoyce1882
Member
(03-21-2017, 07:49 AM)
JamesJoyce1882's Avatar
Good luck with your list. I personally stopped reading after seeing Kane and Lynch in your top 100. Unless you only played 100 games in your life, these games so not belong in any top 100.
Rapscallion
Member
(03-21-2017, 07:55 AM)
Rapscallion's Avatar
So far the only games on your list that I have played a decent amount of are Fighters Megamix and Duck Tales.


Fighters Megamix > Ducktales.

DT doesn't even have a fighting car.
Kientin
Member
(03-21-2017, 08:12 AM)
Kientin's Avatar

Originally Posted by Piston Hyundai

I'm not really a JRPG guy at all, otherwise it'd be higher.

Nothing wrong with that. Haha.
djtiesto
is beloved, despite what anyone might say
(03-21-2017, 06:33 PM)
djtiesto's Avatar

Originally Posted by Piston Hyundai

Monolith's been around a long time and have made some incredible games. They made F.E.A.R. 1 and 2, Condemned 1 and 2, No One Lives Forever 1 and 2, Shogo, Shadow of Mordor, Tron 2.0 and AVP2. Hell, they debuted with Blood, which a surprising amount of people consider to be the best game on the Build engine (Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior, etc.).

The only Monolith Soft game that comes to mind that most people would consider great is Xenoblade Chronicles.

Baten Kaitos Origins, definitely. The Xenosaga series has its fans though I can't say I'm one.

Your list is interesting but kinda weird. Lots of retro Japanese classics (Actraiser, Earthbound, Snatcher, Popful Mail) mixed in with the western "B" game I'd see frequently clogging up Gamestop used bins during the 360/PS3 era (Kane and Lynch 2, Condemned, Spec Ops). Still, pretty curious to see where this will go.

Puggsy I think is the most interesting choice. I picked a beautiful condition copy of it for Genesis a while back, but couldn't really grasp the mechanics too well so I shelfed it. This may cause me to go back and give it another chance.
Piston Hyundai
Member
(03-23-2017, 10:19 AM)
Piston Hyundai's Avatar
#80: UmJammer Lammy
(NanaOn-Sha - Playstation, 1999)



The PaRappa the Rapper series is a real Goldilocks case for me. The PSX original is no doubt one of the most iconic games of Sony's entire catalog, but it's also a half-hour long and had weirdly demanding hit detection, making it pretty frustrating to play. PaRappa 2 was, ironically, easy to a fault and relied on repeat playthroughs for a futile attempt at replay value. UmJammer Lammy, however, is just right.

The gameplay expands upon PaRappa's "follow the leader" formula by encouraging more improvisation. Since Lammy's playing a guitar and not rapping, freestyling sounds way more natural than the jarring "THE PUMP P-P-PUMP OVER OVER THE HERE COMES WITH WITH TRUCK, TRU-TRUCK" jumble of words and syllables that would come from PaRappa. Every level gives you a new gadget that puts an optional audio effect on your guitar, letting you experiment even more as you progress. These additions don't radically change the gameplay, but along with the more generous scoring, they encourage you to have more fun with things. It still isn't perfectly balanced, but you don't find yourself wondering why a string of inputs was considered bad nearly as much as you do in PaRappa.

Just like its predecessor, UmJammer Lammy has an impossibly endearing style. A huge part of the entire series' charm is how it makes ludicrous situations out of basic storylines. If you break it down, PaRappa the Rapper is simply about someone who wanted to, well, pollinate a flower. As one might expect, though, most people tend to forget about that in favor of the ridiculous cooking show segment and the climactic rap battle for the coveted right to take a piss. UmJammer Lammy has a similarly warped simplicity, with Lammy's basic goal of making it to a concert in time being met with even more outlandish scenarios. The goofy, lighthearted spirit of the original game pervades throughout UJL's story and cast without leaning all too hard on the classics of the previous game. It rewards series diehards while standing on its own.

At the end of the day, the thing that makes this the crown jewel of the series is the amount of content. There's a neat little multiplayer mode that lets you play songs both competitively and cooperatively, but the really cool thing is what the game pulls when you think you're done with it. Shortly after beating the final level, the game goes "hold up, motherfucker" and reveals that you can play through a PaRappa remix of the game, giving you another set of cutscenes and songs. This isn't some slapped on mode, either: songs end up sounding completely different as PaRappa, with new lyrics and instrumentation. What was originally an idol pop song will have more of a brooding, horrorcore type of vibe as PaRappa. You can even mashup Lammy and PaRappa in the game's multiplayer. Quantity doesn't always equal quality, but the addition of a second story gives the game a much longer shelf-life as well as the largest, most diverse soundtrack in the series. It goes without saying that every game in the series has great music (even the disappointing PaRappa 2), but UJL's soundtrack is an especially eclectic mix of heavy metal, funk, rockabilly, and all sorts of other stuff. To use musical terms, it's an ambitious double-album compared to the other games' EPs.

History will definitely look back more fondly on the original PaRappa the Rapper, but UmJammer Lammy is much more well-rounded, and the better game in more ways than most people give it credit for. PaRappa undoubtedly has a lot of the best songs in the series, but UmJammer Lammy is more than the sum of its parts.



#79: Daytona USA
(SEGA AM2 - Xbox 360, 2011)



Boy, talk about timing on this one.

From the moment you first lay eyes on it, Daytona USA commands your attention. The attract mode lives up to its name, showing a rainbow of cars racing under the bluest sky you've ever seen in your life accompanied by Takenobu Mitsuyoshi's almost comically catchy scatting. It tells you everything you need to know about it: blazing fast cars, a bold, stunning visual presentation, and music that has no right to be as charming as it is. This game is the essence of an arcade racer: pure energy from top to bottom.

Daytona was straight up space-age shit back in 1993, and the game's look holds up damn well today. The 2011 port is the best looking the game has ever been, with 16:9 support, a constant 60FPS, and touched-up HUD textures and skylines. This is all brought together in 1080p, giving the game an incredibly sharp look.

And the music. God damn it, the music. Just listen to it. It defies description. There's a reason this version includes a karaoke mode.

AM2 made some damn good driving games in their day, but Daytona USA is the first one to feel like a step up from their Super Scaler racers in the gameplay department. Driving is tight and responsive, and making fine adjustments to your steering is as easy on a 360 controller as it is with the arcade cabinet's wheel. However, the mechanic that separates this game from AM2's previous work is the over-the-top drifting. It takes a lot of skill to pull off reliably, but feels great once you get the hang of it. The skill ceiling is higher than you'd expect, since you're rewarded for choosing manual transmission in the form of a slightly higher top speed (not to mention you feel like a total bad-ass when you nail a drift initiated from a gearshift). The 360 version includes some neat bonuses like a challenge mode that doubles as a helpful tutorial, plus an endless survival mode. There may be only three tracks, but like a lot of arcade games, you'll spend a lot of time just learning the layout and how to tackle each turn before you win any races in them.

Daytona USA is pretty much everything people love about arcade games: a vibrant, exuberant aesthetic, breakneck speed, and the classic "easy to pick up, difficult to master" difficulty curve. It just received backwards compatibility support on the Xbox One so now would be a great time to download a copy and find some races online.



#78: Saturn Bomberman
(Hudson Soft - SEGA Saturn, 1997)



Saturn Bomberman has a reputation as the best in the series, and while you could attribute this status to its platform-induced obscurity (similar to the fervor around Sonic CD back in the day), I can assure you that the praise is definitely earned.

Bomberman is (maybe it's "was") a household name because of the series' timeless multiplayer, but there's something to be said about its single-player, too. At its best, Bomberman is a unique yin-yang experience, coupling its hectic battle mode with an oddly zen single player mode.

Multiplayer is similar to Bomberman '94 (another beloved entry in the series), but with several improvements. Later games would get bogged down in an array of gimmicky bombs of questionable value and "power-downs," but Saturn Bomberman strikes a perfect balance, providing just enough powerups and abilities to keep things interesting without being bloated and confusing. More importantly, however, Saturn Bomberman supports up to ten players on a single gigantic field. It's a total mess in the best possible way, and even has a gigantic Godzilla-looking monster that flies in and fucks things up for everybody. If you ever find yourself in the rare situation of having 10 people and two multi-taps on hand, it's something you have to experience.

Contrasting with the trademark multiplayer, Saturn Bomberman's story mode is a bit more constrained. You only get a couple of power-ups per stage, making progression slow, yet steady. There's more pressure as the enemies get stronger and your own buffed stats make running around bombing things a riskier proposition, but generally speaking the story mode is shockingly relaxing, as you take in the fantastic artwork and music, lure enemies into explosions, and search for power-ups.

The Saturn is known for being a 2D powerhouse, and Saturn Bomberman is solid evidence. The jump to a 32-bit console means that levels are even more colorful and packed with detailed pixel art. There's plenty of great little touches, too: level backgrounds are that much more lively thanks to extra details like passing trains and falling snowflakes. Characters even begin to panic when they're surrounded by bombs. The series always had a charming, cartoony look, but with the Saturn, it was finally able to realize its potential.

Now, normally I would talk about how good the music is, but I feel the obliged to go a little deeper than that for this one.

A majority of the music in the Bomberman series is done by the supremely talented Jun Chikuma, one of the very best VGM composers of all time. Most people know of her work on Bomberman Hero, but no matter what era or what sound chip she's given, she pumps out some absolutely phenomenal tracks for the Bomberman games she works on. Not only did she establish many of the classic themes that would be used throughout the entire series, she puts an often-radical spin on them with each iteration, making old music feel more like a leitmotif that evolves across generations than a simple callback. On Super Bomberman 3, she gives Yuzo Koshiro a run for his money with some of the best sample-driven music on the SNES, and Bomberman World features some really good drum-and-bass inspired tracks. Saturn Bomberman was the first Bomberman game to feature CD audio, and it shows. You can almost hear the excitement to finally use real instruments coming right out of your speakers. She even makes a point of showcasing the jump in fidelity in the game's battle theme. Apologies for the lengthy tangent, but I felt the need to acknowledge her amazing work on the series as a whole. Chikuma truly deserves to be spoken of in the same breath as the David Wises and Nobuo Uematsus of the world.

Anyway, I think I've more than made my case for this game. It's one of the best games on the Saturn and (somehow arguably, going by the general adulation for '94) the best game in the series. It's a fucking war crime that it's remained Saturn exclusive to this day.



#77: Gears of War
(Epic Games - Xbox 360, 2006)



Gears of War was a landmark game for me. Along with Dead Rising, it was one of the first games I got for my Xbox 360, and they were both eye-opening for different reasons.

It may not be much of a looker now, but Gears of War was the first game of its generation to signify what playing video games in high definition could be like. The visuals that Unreal Engine 3 gave us were awe-inspiring for the time, and very few games on consoles or PC could really compare. People may harp on the muted color palette and the "brown and bloom" or however you want to put it, but I can't really fault something that started a trend that would become worn out by its contemporaries.

More important than the graphics, however, is that (barring a sketchy tryst with Metal Gear Online) Gears of War was my first time really playing a AAA video game over the Internet. The often-challenging campaign was that much more entertaining with a friend, and the novelty of achievements was still fresh, making higher difficulties feel a little more rewarding (make no mistake, though: Insane difficulty is still a blast without the allure of achievements). While some coop-exclusive elements are eyeroll-inducing (like doors that conveniently require the strength of two people), they included some nice touches like routes where players are split up, making it a little more than just the same game with another person there. The story featured in the campaign is hardly Chaucer, but there's an endearingly campy quality to how seriously it takes itself, a facet that flies in the face of John DiMaggio's haggard Marcus "SCRATCH ONE GRUB" Fenix.

The campaign's nice, especially in coop, but if Gears of War needed multiple discs, multiplayer would be Disc 1. Even removed from the first-time novelty of experiencing Xbox LIVE, multiplayer grabbed me in a way that the series would never do again. This is because the first entry did something that few others shooters would dare to do: forego a traditional deathmatch. Every mode limited you to one life per round, forcing each player to give much more weight to their actions than they would if they could respawn. Knowing that death was something you couldn't come back from made the tension palpable in every scenario, and occasionally led to some incredible 3 or 4-on-1 comeback situations. The series would quickly add more lenient modes, and sure enough, those became the modes that were populated. Game types like Team Deathmatch and King of the Hill aren't bad, but they came at the expense of modes like Execution and Assassination, diluting the formula and making the game feel a bit more like every other shooter out there.

More generally speaking, the multiplayer has a smart mix of arena shooter mechanics and more modern design traits. Regenerating health and the down-but-not-out system meant that each skirmish was self-contained, preventing players from being too easily picked off from afar with a pea shooter after close gunfights. Weapon spawns added an element of map control for an advantage, but didn't leave players helpless if they had a stock loadout (something Quake gets away with due to the much faster speed of play). Along with the lack of respawns, the absence of a map or a radar on the UI forced you to be on your shit, keeping a keen eye out for enemies or teammates in trouble, something the map design takes full advantage of. The levels are as varied and flow as well as you would expect from levels by the makers of Unreal Tournament, who had it down to an art form. It all comes together beautifully to form a competitive game that can go from tense and methodical to high-octane at a moment's notice.

One of the things people don't really talk about with this game is how it actually had an approach to joining games similar to most PC shooters. Instead of matchmaking, you were given a server browser. This may not seem like a big deal, but for some strange reason being able to play the mode you want on the map you want is something of a rarity in console shooters these days (unless you want to play a private match with friends). They even had a smart solution for preventing collusion in ranked matches, obscuring the hosts' names in the server list. The sequel's switch to matchmaking (and just how entirely fucked it all was at launch on almost every level) made me realize how much I took something as simple as having a choice from a list for granted, and unfortunately it was already an industry standard by that point. Matchmaking serves a valid purpose, but you've heard the adage about wanting something done right.

The other entries in the series are great and mostly have better campaigns, but there's a sense of pressure unique to the first game's multiplayer, something that they would only move further away from as time went on. Additions like Horde mode and Annex are nice, but nothing really had me on pins and needles like the original game did.



#76: Super Smash Bros. Melee
(HAL Laboratory - Gamecube, 2001)



I'm not one of those weirdo Melee purists. If you put the Wii U game or Brawl in front of me, I'll gladly play it, but I never quite enjoyed a Smash Bros. game on the same level as I did Melee, and I doubt I ever will.

Super Smash Bros. Melee is the model sequel. I honestly can't think of a single thing the Nintendo 64 game did that Melee doesn't do better. The game looks more than a generation ahead of its predecessor, with a nearly pedantic knack for detail (Mario's denim, for Christ's sake). Control is tighter and movement is less floaty, setting the standard for the series' gameplay. The roster has been doubled, with a healthy variety of fan favorites and Fighters Megamix-esque deep cuts that are a blast to unlock. The game's 29 (!) arenas are often larger and almost always more dynamic than the 64 entry's 9 relatively basic maps. There is more of everything, and all of it is better. It's astonishing.

Being a strictly competitive game, you would think that multiplayer would be the easy favorite, but there is a ridiculous amount of things to do solo. There are a half-dozen unique modes to choose from, my favorites being Adventure Mode (a trek through various platformer-style stages and battles based on various Nintendo properties) and Event Mode (a series of 51 battles with unique stipulations). The single-player content is also the key to unlocking a majority of the game's trophies, which are one of the best collectables in gaming. This is the pinnacle of the series' single-player offerings, as Brawl would provide an Adventure Mode that was too bland and bloated while the Wii U game wouldn't even bother including one. Melee puts a mind-boggling amount of inventive twists on the game's format and has so many interesting unlocks to work towards that you could easily get your fill of the game without ever touching multiplayer.

If you do play multiplayer, you'll find a diverse set of deeply customizable modes. You can pretty much play exactly how you want to play. You can assign players to teams, limit items, set up huge tournaments, adjust damage ratios and handicaps, and even set up conditions like only using the A-button to attack, or having a more traditional health system. With so many variables, your imagination is the hardest limit on gameplay, which does wonders for replay value. This is one of those games you'd want with you on a desert island.

Super Smash Bros. Melee is the kind of sequel that doesn't come around often. To a certain degree, I can understand why there would be Melee evangelists, but not because of any minutia surrounding the mechanics. Simply put, we'll probably never get another game in the series that does to Melee what it did to the original.
unknownstranger
Member
(03-23-2017, 10:26 AM)
unknownstranger's Avatar

Originally Posted by StoveOven

I typically love puzzle games, but something about Trine 2 just never clicked with me. I've tried to get into it multiple times but always end up dropping it. You're right about it having a cool aesthetic though. Also, you're dead on with Tetris DS being the best version of Tetris

I feel the way way with Trine 2. I've tried playing it 3 times (PS3, then PC, then PS4) and every time about an hour or two in I get bored and just drop it. I love puzzle-platformers but I could just never get into it.

Edit: Super Smash Bros Melee is a hard game for me to rank. It might be my most played non-mmo game but I don't think I'd put it in my top 10. SSE from Brawl gets a lot of shit but it's why I prefer it to Melee.
Last edited by unknownstranger; 03-23-2017 at 10:30 AM.
GrantDaNasty
Member
(03-23-2017, 10:42 AM)
GrantDaNasty's Avatar
Already a fan of your list based on you putting Trine 2 in there. The original Trine was a neat physics-driven puzzle-platformer, and the 2nd one improves on it not only in a gameplay sense, but I fucking LOOOOOOOOOOOVE the Music in Trine 2. Frozenbyte did such an amazing job with the presentation of that game.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFCH...8F911&index=14 is one of my favourite bits of music in that game. The synthesized singing voice in it gives it such a magical vibe.

Looking forward to seeing more.
McBradders
NeoGAF: my new HOME
(03-23-2017, 10:53 AM)
McBradders's Avatar
Daytona is criminally low but it's in there, so you have my respect, good sir.
Piston Hyundai
Member
(03-23-2017, 10:57 AM)
Piston Hyundai's Avatar

Originally Posted by McBradders

Daytona is criminally low but it's in there, so you have my respect, good sir.

What if I told you that there are some SEGA racing games out there that are even better, and that one of them was by AM2?
Catvoca
Member
(03-23-2017, 10:58 AM)
Catvoca's Avatar

Modern Warfare's great and all, but I get more out of World at War's schlocky "Semper Fi, Corporal Kiefer Sutherland" campaign and weaponry than MW's schlocky "Whiskey Tango this is Baby Batter actual I need a sitrep on those bogeys over" qualities.

Lmao

Great thread Piston, enjoying it a lot so far. Our tastes are pretty different (You like the old games more than I do) but there's some good stuff on here.
McBradders
NeoGAF: my new HOME
(03-23-2017, 10:59 AM)
McBradders's Avatar

Originally Posted by Piston Hyundai

What if I told you that there are some SEGA racing games out there that are even better, and that one of them was by AM2?

Then, sir, I believe we have ourselves a difference of opinion... but again, I can totally respect a preference for OutRun 2, in my head OutRun 2 is king but in my heart... well my heart sings Daytonaaaaaaaaa!
Piston Hyundai
Member
(03-23-2017, 11:36 AM)
Piston Hyundai's Avatar

Originally Posted by Catvoca

Great thread Piston, enjoying it a lot so far. Our tastes are pretty different (You like the old games more than I do) but there's some good stuff on here.

Thanks. I love the old games.

Originally Posted by McBradders

Then, sir, I believe we have ourselves a difference of opinion... but again, I can totally respect a preference for OutRun 2, in my head OutRun 2 is king but in my heart... well my heart sings Daytonaaaaaaaaa!

Who said anything about Outrun 2? I mean, it's absolutely Outrun 2, but still.
JohnSpartanLee
Member
(03-23-2017, 11:54 AM)
JohnSpartanLee's Avatar
Missed out on Neo Turf Masters - thanks for the recommendation.

Thread Tools