These are not my Top Ten games, in fact some of these choices are downright bad. These are just ten games that influenced me as a gamer. While there are other games that are more influential, these ones have a special place in my heart for various reasons. Also, note that I am a Genesis kid, this affected the list as well
and, because everyone loves lists:
TEN GAMES (in close to chronological order)
10.) The Black Cauldron Apple II
I started reading when I was young, fascinated by the world of books. What I craved most was fantasy, so the worlds of Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Lloyd Alexander were where I immediately turned, followed shortly by David Eddings and Ursula K Le Guin. The Black Cauldron (released by Sierra and played on my Apple IIe) was based on the movie, which in turn was based on the book by Alexander. The movie was a Disney classic, with adult themes (the self-sacrifice of a certain character), decent animation for the time, and a story (torn from the book) that lent itself for an adventure of epic proportions.
The game was designed in the style of classic Sierra adventure games. There was a set order to do events, but players explored the map they had access to and figured out different ways to set the events in action. The scale of adventure in the game was also impressive for the time. I had just as much fun figuring out how to avoid getting charged by the farm's goat as I did climbing the castle's wall, avoiding falling debris and hungry alligators swimming the moat below. This game makes a place on my list simply for being a quality movie-based game. If developers put as much love into tie-ins as Sierra put into this game, I'm sure the stigma would turn into a boon.
9.) Chip's Challenge PC
As a distant precursor to the movie "Saw", you awake in a room and must go through all sorts of torture to find the key and escape.
But seriously, Chip's Challenge is a game many of you might have played. It came pre-installed on most personal computers for years, and for some (myself included) it was one of the first addicting puzzle games that many experienced. The goal was simple: find all of the computer chips and escape the room before time ran out. It was a game that became challenging (hence the title) at the higher levels through devious level design, placement of enemies, and power-ups. Though other pre-installed games that came with windows were also addicting (the multiplayer remake of Lode Runner with the level editor included), this had the benefit of being released first.
8.) Fist of the North Star Game Boy
I will admit: I had never seen the show or movie when I picked up this game for my grey brick of a Game Boy, but still the tiny characters with their interesting back-stories drew me in. In hindsight, this game is not a quality game by any means, but it was my introduction to a genre I had no experience in: fighting games. Games for me had been all about overcoming the challenge of level design; I needed to traverse the traps in Prince of Persia
in one piece, find the best place to land in Choplifter
, and figure out the solution to puzzles in various adventure games. This was the first game I owned where the level did not come into play, it was just me versus the AI. I wanted to know as much as I could about each of the characters, and the only way to do so was to beat the game from each perspective. Fighters I loved playing as soon became my enemies, and I had to learn techniques to fight against myself. As a game, it does not hold up, but I wouldn't have SSF2THDR or Tatsunoko vs Capcom without it.
7.) Castlevania: Belmont's Revenge Game Boy
I see you like Castlevania..
My introduction to the series came from this bizarre entry. Ray Bradbury quotes Jaun Ramon Jimenez in his book "Fahrenheit 451": 'If they give you ruled paper, write the other way
'; this game does this in a literal way by scrolling form right to left. While including subweapons, a Belmont, Dracula, and the whip- it doesn't feel like Castlevania in the traditional sense. The character moves too slow, you can select which level you want to tackle and in what order, and it includes a password system to retain your progress.
This game, however was my first Castlevania, and sent me down a long road of Belmont successors and offshoots. Several times I've contemplated picking up SOTN on PSN before remembering I have it on psx/xbox live/and psp (via Dracula X). Without this entry on my list, I would never have played the fantastic GBA Castlevanias or the three on DS.
6.) Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis
*Sigh* Any mention of Sonic the Hedgehog isn't complete without a reference to the franchise's current state. SeGa simultaneously gives me joy with titles like Skies of Arcadia
, Valkyria Chronicles
, Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection
, and even the daytime levels
of Sonic Unleashed
, while inflicting the pain that is the last 7 years of the Sonic franchise. Honestly, if the OutRun team can be content to rerelease the same content with updated graphics and features, why must Sonic Team feel the urge to "improve" the games by alienating the fanbase.. but I digress.
The main reason I have Sonic on here, is that it was the first console game I owned. I had many friends with NES or even Ataris, but Genesis was my first console love. A close second for the reasons it makes the list is the music. Listen to the video above with its smooth blues influenced sound, and then listen to Scrap Brain Zone's frenzied electronica. Video game music did not have to just be blips and bloops, and games like this prove how varied it could be in spite of limited technology. Now there are almost no limitations, and I feel that developers need to take full advantage of that (games like Every Day Shooter or Flower come to mind).
5.) World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck Genesis
This is a game that allowed me to literally plunge into adventure. From magic carpets to Atlantean worlds, from capes that froze things in place to living cards ripped straight from Alice in Wonderland, this game had it all. More importantly, this game had cooperative play. When my brother and I were tired from playing wiffle ball or catch, we'd team up to conquer these fictional worlds together. More often than not, it would devolve into a bout of who could freeze the other and use them as a platform, which ended poorly (especially in the canyon level, where to stay still signified a certain death).
When people scoff at the inclusion of Disney characters in Kingdom Hearts, I look back on this game and smile. More games need the charm of this little title.
4.) Chakan: The Forever Man Genesis
Here's one for the comic book fans: Chakan. Think action/platformer close at heart to Castlevania, but slower in pace. Chakan was a great sword fighter when he was mortal. In his arrogance he challenges Death himself, and wins. Granted eternal life, he is tormented at night by the evils of the world and finds no respite. Chakan dual wields swords that can be imbued with elemental powers. First game I ever played with lightning swords.
Chakan was a darkly themed game, ahead of its time. If any game deserves a sequel, it's Chakan.
3.) Shining Force Genesis
Aside from being an excellent title, Shining Force was my first strategy RPG, and in many ways spurred my love for the genre. I had played some RPGs, but SF pulled me in, causing me to spend late nights invested in the characters. Having never played the Phantasy Star games on genesis, I didn't have much else that stood out in the Role Playing department. This game changed all that. Without this game, I wouldn't have gotten into Final Fantasy (tactics or otherwise), Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, Legend of Zelda, Illusion of Gaia, and all the titles that Nintendo had that Sega didn't. I regret never playing SFIII, and hope some day it may be rereleased on a different platform. If I had to place one entry at number one in terms of influence, it would be Shining Force. As a pioneer of the genre, it still holds up to this day on GBA and Virtual Console.
2.) Super Mario 64 Nintendo 64
Games were 2d. Not that there was a problem with that, it's just the way things were. Level design in platformers were based on a 2-dimensional plane. Characters were sprites. Even in 3d games
like Doom or Wolfenstein, characters and enemies were 2d. I remember playing the original Crash Bandicoot and saying "This is 3d. My character is a polygonal model, the enemies as well. I can move forward and backwards, left and right on a 3-dimensional map. How can anything be more
3d than this?" And then I got my N64. I couldn't even fathom what I was playing- no scrolling screen, I had control of the camera. An enemy could approach me from any direction! I could even swim in the fountain- in a 360 degree path. Anything that came out after this on the system was impressive, but Mario blew my mind.
1.) Shenmue I&II Dreamcast
My brother got me a NOT
copied version of this game right after it came out, neglecting to include the second disc. After days spent repeatedly playing through to the finale of the first disc (looking for Chinese, and buying a delivery guy a soda), I finally ran out and bought the game. I enjoyed everything you could do in Shenmue, from playing Space Harrier to working as a forklift driver at the docks.
I liked the genre blend of the game: practicing my fighting styles in the parking lot at night, racing forklifts in the morning, building a relationship with the people of Dobuita, taking care of a kitten, and exploring environments like an adventure game. When I finished the game, I was psyched for the sequel. Unfortunately, I live in America. When Shenmue II was cancelled for a North American release, I was sad. Naturally I "imported" the UK version in order to play through to completion. Shenmue II was action packed, taking the faults of the first game and fixing them up for a more streamlined experience. The game culminated with a massive fight through a large decrepit building in a decaying city leading to a boss fight on the roof. It was challenging and took seemingly forever, and then it was finally over.. but I still had a disc left. Disc 7 of the Shenmue Saga is my favorite part of the entire game. All the urban and suburban influence is stripped away, leaving just a forest environment. Ryo saves Sha Hua (the literal girl of his dreams) from drowning, and proceeds through woods and fields, rivers and waterfalls, caves and bridges to get her back home. It is here that I finally met the titular 'Shenmue', a great tree growing on her yard. Somehow this sequence has influenced me more than the other six discs of the game.
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