Well, did this on facebook around June last year, 10 days where each day you post a game that made an impact on you. And then while scrolling through the C-Blogs, saw someone had made a blog about it. I've been pretty uninspired to write, well, anything, for a good while so stealing being inspired by this seems like a good way to get back into things.
So, well let's get this started with...
NUMBER 10: CONKER'S BAD FUR DAY
Conker's BFD came out in April 2001, a month before my 12th birthday. Now you may be thinking, as a 12 year old this game had an impact for the swearing, poo jokes and the funny story. And well, as much as I enjoy the Great Mighty Poo song, it was the multiplayer that was the main attraction to me. Back when split-screen sofa multiplayer was a thing, this was an utter joy. Whether it was doing crazy maneuvers to dodge a sniper while running to safety in 'Beach' or beating someone to death with a baseball bat in 'Heist' or, and probably one of the best moments, playing 'Tank' setting the nuke off, and everyone diving into the same bunker, screaming truce before all chaos breaks out as someone fires the first shot.
When Conker's Bad Fur Day Live & Uncut was first announced I couldn't wait to play these great modes again but now online. And then Live & Uncut became Live and Reloaded as it (weirdly) became MORE censored than the N64 one and they ripped out the old multiplayer I loved and put some generic third person shooter online thing in... bah...
NUMBER 9: OKAMI
Every year a version of Okami has come out, it's been my game of the year. It is without a doubt one of my favourite games of all time and one of the best games ever made. It is also the game that made me see that Nintendo wasn't the only guys in town and, in my opinion, were getting a bit pants...
You see, I had been a Nintendo 'fanboy' since I first got a SNES, then I went and got a NES (for £10, in a box, with loads of games, back in the good old days...), then my first SNES died so I got another one, then I got a N64 and then I got a NTSC-U SNES to play Mario RPG and some game with Ness in it from Smash (which turned out to be way, way better than Mario RPG) and then I got a Gamecube and well, it wasn't great. I loved Melee (which was great) but Mario Sunshine, Mario Kart Double Dash and well, whatever FPS games the Cube had (as in multiplayer before anyone has a fit about Prime...) just weren't as good as the games that had came before and, to this day, are some of the weakest of the series. Sonic Adventure 2: Battle came out and people seemed to love it, but as someone who had a Dreamcast and remeber the massive good/bad divide of opinions with that game (I thought it was bad, because it is...) it all seemed very strange to see excitement about it. I had some great times on the Cube (which we'll get to) but my heart no longer beated for Nintendo alone.
Back when the PS2 first came out it was cheaper than a lot of DVD players, which is why my parents (and a lot of people) first brought one. My older brother would play the GTA games, and there would be a few other games I'd play or watch being played but for a lot of time the PS2 just wasn't my jam. To me, it was mostly a DVD player. Then about 5 and a half years of pretty much ignoring the PS2 a friend lent me a game, that game was God of War. I liked God of War a fair bit and it was got me into 'hack & slash' games and to discover such gems like Ninja Gaiden and DMC 3. God of War was fun, but it wasn't brilliant. I then Okami came. I'm a massive Zelda fan, but I never (and still don't) like the 3D Zelda games. Yes, that means I don't like Ocarina of Time, aka 'the best game ever' - I just don't think it's a fun game. The combat sucks, you wait with your shield, they hit your shield, you hit them. It's boring. The old Zelda had you swinging your sword like a maniac frantically chasing a giant worm's arse. Okami looked like a Zelda game but with hack & slash gameplay - and I was into that idea big time.
Sure I got a bit worried when the intro took about 30 minutes to get through but my god, this was the game that made me a Sony guy, well it was the start anyway. The game that made me a Sony guy was released a few months later - NSMB, yes, New Super Mario Bros. I was god damned hyped for a new 2D Mario and that game is utter trash. The blue shell power sucks, it's ridiculously easy, the music is awful and 3D polygons on 2D backgrounds just doesn't work. God, I hated NSMB. To this day, I don't think there's been a truly good 2D Mario since Yoshi's Island.
Anyway, bascially - Okami. It was really good and got me on the PS2 and thus games like DMC 3, MGS 3, God of War, Gradius V etc etc all came into my life and I was very happy and Nintendo sucked balls.
NUMBER 8: ANIMAL CROSSING
Ah good old Nintendo. Man, you can't not love Nintendo (this was 5 years or so before Okami came into my life) and there crazy out of the box ideas. Being a Nintendo fan in the UK was hard - things took a damn long time to come out over here. I mean, we never got Mega Man 6 because the NES would have been long dead by the time it reached our shores. Thus, it was decided between myself, and my 2 brothers (I'm the middle child, obviously) that we would no longer stand for it and import a damn US 'Cube. Not to mention that back then it was cheaper to import games because the good old british pound was worth like a million canadian dollars or something.
And, thank the lord we did because I god damn loved Animal Crossing (which came out in the UK a whole 2 years after it came out in the US). Was it the relaxing gameplay? The quirky characters? Making your own T-shirt designs? No. It was the pure competitive nature of the game. Animal Crossing was damn serious business. One GameCube - 3 people obsessed with Animal Crossing. It got to the point that my mother had to make a schedule for the game so we could all play it. And it wasn't just in simple shifts, it was done so we would all be able to play it during the morning, afternoon, evening and night as different bugs etc. came out depending on the time of day - and for all 3 of us to be able to get a song from K.K. It was quite insane looking back on it.
However the most important thing about the game was obviously paying off your mortgage. And when you did this you got a statue. Whoever paid if off first got the gold statue (followed by a silver and bronze one naturally). I got the gold statue and it was one of, if not the best, videogame acheivements of my life. Sure we played Smash, Mario Kart, Mario party etc etc competivley, but a win or a lost in those games was just a moment. The gold statue, that was forever and it was mine.
NUMBER 7: MEGA MAN 2
I think I must have discovered Mega Man in the weirdest way - on the Dreamcast. Way before I played Marvel Vs Capcom 2 or Cannon Spike (christ, did that game become valuable...) I was flicking through a list of games on a Dreamcast SNES emulator (no idea where we got that from) and randomly started playing Mega Man 7. I liked Mega Man 7 back then, now, yeah, it isn't great but back then, damn, yeah, it was pretty cool. So, obviously this meant going back and playing 1-6.
I liked them all (even if I had to play 6 on a Dreamcast NES emulator...) but it was Mega Man II that just caused the obsession. The music, the stages - to this day it is one of the best games ever made and the second best Mega Man game (MM9 somehow turned it to be better). Me and my brothers became obsessed with Mega Man, from theories about how the classic and X series connected, Zero, what happened to Bass and just, man, just all of it. We'd drive out poor father insane with how often we'd say Mega Man, to the point that to this day sometimes we'll just say Mega Man to annoy him.
NUMBER 6: MONSTER HUNTER FREEDOM
Back in my first year of college I had a PSP. And I really loved the hell out of it. Capcom's out of the blue decision to put 2 MegaMan remakes on it along with Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins (which has criminally never been ported) meant it was a very easy purcahse to make. It also introduced me to Everybody's Golf (a series that I now love).
Anyway, back in the N64 days I played a lot of games with a friend, who we'll call Tom, because that was his name. Sadly we kind of drifted apart with friendship groups changing and all that school-day-jazz. But we ended up going to the same college and ended up both having PSP's. Now I had never heard of Monster Hunter in the slightest but he said it was meant to be good and it would be a good co-op game. I was a big fan of hack 'n slash games like God of War and DMC so this seemed like a good idea.
Anyone who knows Monster Hunter knows it does not play, in anyway, like God of War. I was trying to play it like God of War. I was trying to play it like God of War for probably around 100 hours. Obviously, the Great Sword was the only option becuase it did the most damage and obviously spamming attack was the way to go. Despite me and my friends best efforts (we even started using traps) the might Yian Kut-Ku (aka the first main monster you fight) could not be toppled. It slaughtered us. Tom gave up and from him that was the end of the Monster Hunter series.
But not me, I had spent money on this game. And even though all I had done so far was die by the first main monster more times I care to think of something about the game kept me wanting to play it. I liked the world, I liked the feel or the game - I just had no idea how to play it, at all - and the in game tutorial pretty much told you how to cook meat for stamina and that was it. For the first time in my life a game didn't come naturally to me. So I turned to the internet, for beginners advice, for weapons, for tips, everything.
Back then I pretty much viewed using the internet for games as cheating, so it was a weird moral shift. I wasn't cheating, I was searching for the tutorial the game didn't have, for the difficultly curve the game forgot and just built a war instead. So after 100 hours of killing tiny monsters (velociprey) and there 'mid-boss' leader I armed myself with the Sword and Shield (the weapon the game told me did the least damage), traps, potions, and set-off once again to challenge the fearsome beast that was Yian Kut-Ku.
And... it killed me. But I wasn't just getting hit around. I was starting to learn the game and after a few more tries, I did it. I killed the damn thing. And then Rathalos (the next monster) came along and, yeah, he killed me dead. So killed Kut-Ku many many more times to get better armour and a better sword and shield and faced off against Rathalos. When Rathalos fell, a moment clicked and I knew, I knew the game. I got it. I got how it worked and how you played it.
I then bumped into a really old friend I hadn't seen since pre-school (I think) and he played Monster Hunter. And thus the hours vanished, I think I spent about 400 hours on Monster Hunter Freedom (and yes I used the Sword and Shield all the way except for fighthing Fatalis), 200 hours on Monster Hunter Freedom 2 (where I slowly moved on to using the hammer), 250 hours on Monster Hunter Freedom 2 (as I 'lost' my first save when my PSP was stolen), nearly 800 hours on Monster Hunter Freedom Unite - you get the idea. I played the games a lot.
But well, there's also a weird feeling I get when thinking of the past games. Most of my time playing Monster Hunter Freedom 2, Unite and Portable 3rd was spent with my fiancée at the time (for those keeping track I currently have 2 ex-fiancée's) - and they are really good memories and she was a great Long Sword user. Like time has faded away nearly everything of those years to the point I pretty much have a 5 year 'gap' in my life but those memories stay there. She was my Monster Hunter buddy for so long that the series will always have a connection with her. And it makes me a bit sad knowing that she doesn't even play videogames anymore. Things like Destiny (she was a massive Halo fan) and Monster Hunter World would have, once upon a time, been something she'd sink hours into and now she's other in Ireland looking after birds. It's a constant reminder of how people can change, and yet also, how much I have stood still.
Ok... so that got a bit deep. Moving on...
NUMBER 5: WACKY RACES
I played Wacky Races somewhere around 1st January 2003. I know this because that's the day my old website RetroGameZone went online. I used to be a massive fan of a program called 'The Games Factory' (which is like an early version of the program used to make Iconoclasts and Noitu Love 2) and I became pretty good at making games for it. I have no idea how I found Wakcy Races on the NES, I remember playing the GBC game and thinking it looked impressive for a handheld and thus got curious about the NES title (which, is obviously a platformer...). Anyway, I liked it, it isn't the best game ever made and it's not worth the insane asking price it now demands, but it was a fun game. Now for whatever reason I liked the look of Wacky Races on the NES a fair bit and thus wanted to make a game using the sprites from it. It wasn't going to be a 'full' game but I wanted to test out close-combat, power-ups, check-points and boss battles that sped-up/changed pattern etc etc. and it had all the sprites I'd need to do this and was relatively simple graphics-wise. So I turned to 'The Shy Guy Kingdom' (which was like the biggest sprite site back in the day), and not being able to find the sprites there I turned to 'The Spriter's Resource' (which criminally used to organise the sprites by what company made the game and not by system. Thankfully some kid called Dazz came along and fixed all that and then went on to be part of a small YouTube channel called 'Did You Know Gaming?') ANYWAY - The sprites from Wacky Races were not on the internet, anywhere. So I had to get them (or 'rip' them as sprite people say). This got me heavily involved in the sprite community and because of that one of my closest friends, whom I ave never met, is some guy in Canada.
So yes, I love Wacky Races not because it's a great game, but because it got me into the 'fun' world of sprite-ripping (well, until 1st February 2015, when with so little time to do it I called it a day). It's also the game I use whenever people say 'piracy' is wrong. Wacky Races never got a UK release and buying it now off eBay for $200+ is not only not worth it, but it's not like any of that money is going to the people who made the damn game or to anyone except greedy collector guy. I have brought Metal Slug 3 countless times. The PS2 release, the PS2 release as part of Metal Slug Anthology, the PSP release of Metal Slug Anothology, the PS3 release of Metal Slug 3 - look, basically all the Metal Slug 3's. I have brought them all. Yes, even the piece of junk Neo*Geo Mini. A port of Wacky Races or Aliens Vs Predator (the excellent arcade game) or Turtles in Time (the superior SNES version) doesn't exist. There's no way to buy or play these games that gets the money tot he people/companies who made them. And it's in these instances that piracy, emulation and all of that becomes a massively important thing. Because it's not only preserving them but it's allowing people to play games that otherwise they'd never have access to. So yeah, Wacky Races - important game in my life.
NUMBER 4: PHANTASY STAR ONLINE - EPISODE I&II
For those of you paying attention, I have brothers. One older and one younger making me the middle child. We played a lot of videogames. Mario Kart, Smash Bros, Animal Crossing, Time Spliters, Conker's BFD etc. etc. Sure some games (mostly FPS titles) had co-op campaign modes but for the most part it was mostly competitive. Phantasy Star Online holds a special place because it's the first game where all of us were playing together co-operatively and having a damn good time doing so. With everyone getting older, moving out, getting into relationships and all that Phantasy Star Online is not only the last game I can recall where all 3 of us sat in the same room looking at a quarter of a screen playing together but it's the last game I think all 3 of us played togheter that wasn't competitive. Sure, I've played Destiny with my older brother, and gone through things like Kirby and Mario with my younger but there's never been a game we all played, a big game that we can spend hundreds of hours playing, since. And that's a real shame, because they were some really good damn times... well, except then we learnt the game didn't like unofficial memory cards and our data got corrupted just after the got to the final boss... twice...
NUMBER 3: PERFECT DARK
Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, Halo CE - all games that absolutely dominated the TV's life. There's still moments to this day I remember from these games from a friend accidentally killing himself with a remote control rocket as he thought he had managed to sneak it up on someone to another making so another making an unbeleibale sniper shot in Halo's Sidewinder to prevent the flag being captured. These are the games which everyone was playing. Me, my brothers, my friends, there friends. All day, every day. First Goldeneye, then Perfect Dark and then Halo (which was always CTF on Blood Gulch or Sidewinder 4 v 4 with two Xbox's connected by a massively long LAN cable).
So really, this entry could be any of those games. But Perfect Dark was the first one I got good at and had the most fun on doing stupid things. Like, the game was so customisable to a degree I don't think a FPS has been since. Me and a friend vs a load of 'Peace Sims' (computer controller characters that would disarm you and make you dizzy) armed with nothing but pinball grenades? Hell yes - it was utterly stupidly good fun. And the FarSight XR-20, a gun that could see through walls but was still hard to use - it was all just brilliant. People look back at Rare's N64 golden days wishing for a new Banjo or something and they seem to forget that they made one of the best FPS's ever made. A company, that really, had no right to do so, and for me (thanks to it's awful sequel) the greatest casuality of the Microsoft purchase.
This was also when you played FPS games to shoot your friends becuase it was fun, not to gain experience or unlock better guns or any of that. It was just good old fashioned fun that let you play the game however you wanted to play it. It was a beutiful time to be around for.
NUMBER 2: METAL SLUG 3
Metal Slug 3 wasn't the first Metal Slug I played (that being, well, Metal Slug) nor is it my favourite of the series (Metal Slug X) but it was Metal Slug 3 that really got me into the series. Sure, 1, 2 and X were good. Great even. But at this time I wasn't really playing them to be good at the games, more to have a blast with friends. And my god, what a blast 3 was. I mean the very first level has you shooting giant crabs, mutated locusts that swoop down and bite your head off, and ends with a massive hermit crab with a tank for it's shell. It was pure and utter insanity and I loved it. Barfing snails, the brain worm from Starship Troopers (which you can launch a giant drill into), a rideable ostrich. It's just a stupidly good game, and a hell of a lot of fun. It's epic last stage is probably the length of the rest of the game which, at the time, was utterly brilliant. Now mind, yeah, that level is way too long, makes the game go on a bit more than it should do and makes a 'perfect' play through pretty much impossible. With the modern conviniences of save states and being able to save in general Metal Slug 3 is arguably better now than what it was as it's pretty legnthy for a single sit through. As SNK's last hurrah for the Metal Slug series, it truly is a spectacle to behold. And, sadly, one ehat hasn't been match by any Metal Slug game since...
NUMBER 1: SUPER METROID
Super, god damn Metroid. What a game. Sonic, Mario, Donkey Kong Country - all great games. To me, that's what games were, colourful joy bringing things. Super Metroid was something else, it's haunting intro still gives me the feels to this day. The game seemed giant, it's tone so serious, the sense of acheivement so grand. Never had I ever played anything like it. I've been trying to write about why this game is so great but I simply can't find the words. It's just above and beyond everything else that I was playing at the time. I loved Link to the Past, Yoshi's Island (argubly the best platformer ever made... until Rayman Origins), Contra 3, R-Type III, DKC2 - they're all brilliant games. But Super Metroid, Super Metroid was more than a game - it was an experience. Today, something like this may not feel so special. It still stands as a great game to this day in it's own right but the sheer impact it had on me for being so different to everything else out there is probably lost to the history books.
As a game, one could easily argue that Metroid Zero Mission is the better game. It's more up to date, the controls are smoother removing some of the 'jank' Super Metroid suffers from going back to it. But the feel of Super Metroid has never been replicated. Super Metroid. Honestly, it's just unreal.