My Top 100 Favorite Games of All Time: #75 - 51
Random Thoughts #7
Welcome to the second of my four-part series where I spend the holidays counting down my favorite games of all time. See Part 1 here if you haven't already.
As I mentioned before, this list is not about anything but my own personal tastes. There will be games that have had divisive opinions over the years. I'm only counting one game per franchise. Those lists that have Mario and Zelda taking up a quarter of the list are boring to read. Finally, I'm only mentioning the platform on which I have the most experience with the game in question. Some of these games have been ported literally everywhere. I wouldn't be surprised if some can be played on those smart refrigerators.
Well, where were we?
#75 - Legend of Legaia - Playstation
I mentioned this one in a previous article. Despite the plot of an evil mist sweeping the land, the writing stays lighthearted and fun. The turn-based combat based around martial-arts combos was awesome; I wanted to experiment with different move sets rather than just skipping through battles.
#74 - Nioh - Playstation 4
I have a love-hate relationship with the super-tough action-RPGs like Dark Souls, but I took to Nioh very quickly. The haunted Japanese landscapes are just gorgeous, the mission structure kept me from just running in circles constantly, and the combat found the perfect balance between offense and defense. I still get killed (a lot), but I'm more driven to try again with this one.
#73 - Apex - Xbox
While on the surface Apex looks like just another fun racing game that found the balance between sim and arcade, it is actually quite unique. In this one, you actually build your own car company using developmental prototype cars! I really wish this one could've been the success it deserved to be. There's so much that could've been done with this idea in sequels.
#72 - SaGa Frontier - Playstation
This is one of the toughest RPGs ever made but also one of the most replayable. There are seven unique storylines to clear with dozens of characters to recruit into your party. There are so many different skills available that I can guarantee that no two people will play the game the same way.
#71 - Phoenix - Arcade
When it comes to arcade shmups from the 80s, people only talk about Space Invaders or Galaga. I actually got the most fun out of Phoenix. The addition of a shield adds an extra bit of strategy to the shooting, and there's more variety than typical for the genre. The 8-bit rendition of Beethoven when you nail the mothership is a nice little bonus for the time.
#70 - Elemental Gearbolt - Playstation
I've established from my very first article on Vocal that I like the work of Working Designs, and Elemental Gearbolt is one of the coolest ideas I've ever seen from them. It's a mix between an RPG... and a light gun shooter! It still looks and sound amazing, and I have more fun with the blasting here than in any of the Time Crisis games.
#69 - Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time - Xbox
Though I've enjoyed almost all of the Prince of Persia games, The Sands of Time was the greatest joy. The dialog interchanges between the Prince and Farah are very funny, and the platforming puzzles are a blast to get through. When I find that way past the crumbling floors, sawblades on the walls, and upward wall rebounds, I get the kind of satisfaction that reminds me why I love games so much.
#68 - Painkiller: Hell & Damnation - Playstation 3
Call me old-fashioned, but I believe the best first-person shooters just throw tons of enemies at you in unique environments and just let you mow them down. That's what Painkiller does. All the weapons are a ton of fun to use, the hordes get crazy with their numbers, and the boss fights are friggin' insane! Who needs a deep plot when you can fire demonic sawblades at a fifty-story giant?
#67 - Grandia 2 - Dreamcast
The Grandia games have one of the best battle systems of any JRPG series. The second game provided the best story to go along with it. I got a kick out of just listening to the banter between the hero Ryudo and his falcon sidekick Skye. Amazingly, the Dreamcast original version even looks better than the anniversary version on Steam!
#66 - Dino Crisis 2 - Playstation
Until I did a retro review of it this year, I almost forgot how much fun the second Dino Crisis game can be. Forget sneaking around and using tranks on the raptors; now, you can just let the lead fly! This is all the excitement I got from the first Jurassic Park movie in playable form, and it's still worth dusting off and loading up today.
#65 - Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational - Playstation 3
It may not have the open world of Everybody's Golf on PS4 or the Sweet Tooth and Gex cameos of the second game, but the final game on PS3 has the tightest gameplay and career structure of the whole franchise. It even looks the best in the series. I put it in my Dream 18 for a reason, you know!
#64 - Gauntlet: Dark Legacy - Xbox
This is one Gauntlet game I can play endlessly. All the levels in the eleven worlds feel unique, and all the classes have their own strengths and weaknesses. It's fun to try them all, especially the secret ones. This is also a blast when I have friends over. I've had debates over which of us would get to take out Death.
#63 - Sonic the Hedgehog 2 - Genesis/MegaDrive
I'm a fan of Sonic. I can even forgive the 3D games as long as they're not Sonic '06 or Sonic Boom. However, none of Sonic's games will ever top the second (though Sonic CD comes close). This one has the best level design in the whole series. I've lost a lot of lives in Casino Night Zone simply because I was having too much fun with all the pinball parts of the levels!
#62 - Wii Sports Resort - Wii
Motion-controlled golf and 100-pin bowling. 'Nuff said.
#61 - Halo: Reach - Xbox 360
While I enjoy plotless bloodbaths like Painkiller, I can definitely appreciate a shooter with a strong story, and Halo: Reach has one of the strongest. Knowing that, no matter how hard you fight, you're destined to lose makes every fight feel desperate. There's also more variety in the skirmishes than typical, even for a Halo game, especially when you factor in the co-op.
#60 - Borderlands - Xbox 360
While it doesn't have the crazy plots or villains of the later games, I just had the most fun with the first Borderlands. Exploration was encouraged more here than in the sequels, and, while the sequels had more guns, the ones in the first one felt more varied. Also, it was just awesome to go berserk with Brick.
#59 - Grand Theft Auto: Vice City - Xbox
No Grand Theft Auto game (not even #5) has the character or sense of style that Vice City has. The Miami Vice look makes it a joy just to drive around, and it's easier to get into Tommy Vercetti's character than any other GTA protagonist, especially since he's voiced by Ray Liotta. Then there's one of the best soundtracks in video game history. What car chase can't be improved by playing Michael Jackson's "Billy Jean"?
#58 - Mafia 2 - Xbox 360
No, Mafia 2 doesn't have the tight controls or gameplay variety of a Grand Theft Auto game. However, what it does have is one of the best stories ever put into a game involving gangsters. I really felt for Vito Scarletta's struggles and really started despising his supposed friend Joe Barbaro for all the trouble he causes. The story was so strong, I didn't want to stop till I saw the bittersweet ending. Storywise, this is the closest any game ever came to The Godfather.
#57 - Shining Force CD - Sega CD
I've mentioned this one back in my first Vocal article years ago. The Shining Force series is my favorite strategy series due to its varied scenarios and smooth difficulty curve. The Sega CD game is my favorite in the series since it provides all that with four whole storylines to play through. Sure, two of the storylines were in the Game Gear games, but who cares?
#56 - Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 - Xbox
While I like the four-player modes in 2X and the somewhat open world design of #4, the third Tony Hawk game is the perfect package for me. Adding in the revert made racking up combos insanely easy, and the levels are some of the most creative in the whole series. I've spent hours just making new levels! I've gotten more joy out of this one game than all the extreme sports games I've ever played put together!
#55 - Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords - Xbox 360
While all the Puzzle Quest games are great ways to while away hours, the first easily eclipses the rest. You have lots of room to build your character and his/her skills, and the one-on-one bouts are more tense and strategic than the brawls of Marvel Puzzle Quest or Gems of War. Even though it can be tough, it's never discouraging. I always want to jump back in.
#54 - Tom Clancy's HAWX - Xbox 360
It was tough choosing my favorite dogfighter; they're all so good. HAWX won out for how unique the missions are and how user-friendly the game is. Air combat sims can be very tough unless it's the arcadey Ace Combat series, but HAWX provided tight controls and slick displays to make controlling these jets a breeze. When I successfully took out an opponent with my machine guns after he scrambled my radar, I was sold.
#53 - Assassin's Creed 2 - Playstation 3
I know the later Assassin's Creed games are considered superior. This one's still my favorite for two reasons. First, I get to explore Italy during the Renaissance which is one of my favorite historical periods. Second, Ezio is the most dynamic and interesting protagonist in the whole franchise. How many games actually let you watch a character grow from birth into a hero?
#52 - Bookworm - DS
It's Bejeweled mixed with Scrabble. It's the most fun I have building my vocabulary. I don't need to say anything else.
#51 - Fallout: New Vegas - Xbox 360
While Fallout 3 was fine, there more room for replay with New Vegas. It wasn't just choosing to be good or evil. It was tough choosing who to ally with during the game. Also, the Wastelands in the West were much more interesting than the Eastern locations of the other Bethesda games. I just started playing The Outer Worlds. Let's hope it lives up to this high mark.
We've reached the halfway point in the list. What do you think so far? Problems with my picks? Let me know, and stay tuned for Part 3 next time!