After the debatable qualities of the top 100-91 games on Retro Sanctuary'stop 100 PS1 games list, the selection was only going to get better. Surprisingly, it got better by quite a bit. While I actually reviewed only one game in the top 90-81 games in the Retro Sanctuary list, I tried them all and found things to like.
Games like Jet Moto 3 and Team Buddies may require a group today to fully enjoy, both are fun or smart in some way to justify inclusion in this list. That in addition to obviously very good games like Bloody Roar 2 and Silhouette Mirage leaves me with little to complain about.
However, I wholeheartedly disagree with Speed Punks being on the list and I cannot understand why an inferior port of Doom keeps showing up all the time.
90- Jet Moto 3 (1998):
Like Wave Race but with attitude, enough said.
In all seriousness, Jet Moto 3 is the third game in its series, and that allowed it to improve both graphically and mechanically into its current form. It looks great for a PS1 game with excellent track designs and some seriously good track music (with one creepy song in the catacombs level). One thing that is difficult to discern while racing at high speed is the identity of the racers driving by as you should try and memorize their color schemes.
As for the racing itself, it is fast, furious, and frustratingly random. For every action, I take I expect three different results as if the physics engine is built on quantum mechanics. The game is fast and jets are not known for their stability. Thankfully, Jet Moto 3 adds a grab mechanic which allows you to tether to fixed points in the track to help you make sharp turns. You can also tether to these points in order to catapult yourself off them for some advanced moves. However, like with the general racing in the game, I feel as if every action can cause widely different results.
Consequently, this is a good racing gaming, but it is not tight or predictable enough to be a great one, especially with its crazy track designs that encourage more chaos than Mario Kart's battle mode.
As for the attitude, you need to read the character bios and the track descriptions to see what I mean.
89- Bloody Roar 2 (1999):
Seeing the 3D fighting genre getting crowded the first Beast Roar introduced itself with a unique twist, each character is in effect two characters. While the series never took off massively, it had some excellent character designs, especially when you include the beast mode every character can turn into.
Gameplay-wise, I am not the best judge to compare it to other fighting games. You have two attack buttons which does not lead to a lot of combos but work in conjunction with a lot of directional inputs. The most unique aspect about the game is the beast bar, which allows you to transform into Beast mode (a completely different character model) which increases your damage output and defense. Timing your transformation into Beast mode and managing that bar is pivotal to succeeding in this game. Equally pivotal is to understand your character's combos and skills.
Unfortunately, the game's practice mode is lacking, which is a damn shame. Also, unlike games like Tekken, the story mode (thankfully there is a story mode) consists of only still images and text. Overall, I think this is a solid 3D fighting game that never really had its due.
88- Team Buddies (2000):
In more ways than one, Team Buddies evokes the style and playfulness of Worms. Like that famous series starring the famous worms of war, this game features a deceptively cruel race of pill creatures. However, it's not only in the cute appearance that belies anarchic chaos that the game resembles Worms but also because of the strategy involved and the multi-player focus of the whole thing.
In the single-player game, you control a squad of these pill creatures (called Buddies). The main hook of the gameplay is that you collect crates in the game map and bring them back to your base. Then, you can stack these crates in a variety of forms, which then allows you to build weapons, more Buddies, and even some vehicles. You can order your squad around as well as control any one of them at any time. However, the AI is rarely competent enough to provide a challenge and the game is built with multiplayer in mind.
You both play the game in co-op (with more than one player controlling the squad) or against each other, and that's the real fun in Team Buddies; playing around with your couch buddies.
87- Speed Punks (2000):
The best thing you can say about this game is that it is a competent Kart Racer. The driving is okay, if not particularly special, and the weapons are different reskins of Mario Kart staples. Other than that, the game has little-up its sleeve. Its track design is average even if the graphics are good and there is little differentiating its various characters.
In fact, it is when you take these characters into account that the game's prime shortcoming becomes obvious. Simply put, the character design is obnoxious, even ugly, with their rip-off Rayman design and past-it 90's sensibilities.
The creative bankruptcy of Speed Punks permeates through every facet of it, from its design to its core mechanics, and I am sure there are many games that would deserve to be in this list in its place.
86- NHL 2000 (1999):
This is considered the prime Hockey game on the PS1. Not being a hockey fan (living in a desert and all), I never tried a hockey game before. I liked the Mighty Dicks movies though.
85-Real Bout the Dominated Mind (1998): (Japan Only)
This is one of the many 2D SNK fighters that were never released west. Originally released as Real Bout Fatal Fury Special, this was a continuation of the Fatal Fury series which is known to rival the King of Fighters and Street Fighter franchises but adds in two planes in its 2D fighting game. This mechanic changed in Real Bout, but it still had a more complex dodge mechanic than most 2D fighters at the time.
Honestly, the game looks great today and plays just as well as it did back then. Of course, the PS1 version isn't as clear or as crisp as the Arcade originals.
While they are not a very well-known developer, Treasure managed to carve a well-regarded niche for themselves. They are known to make all kinds of solid action shooters from Shmups like Radiant Silvergun to Run 'n Guns like Gunstar Heroes.
As such, fans of the developers know what to expect here, and Silhouette Mirage mostly delivers in that front. It has a great shooter foundation and adds into it a unique color-coded shooting mechanic in addition to a funny story and charming characters.
Yet, several minor shortcomings add up to detract from the final game, holding it back from being on of Treasure's best, erm, treasures. Still, their own bar is so high that the game still manages to deserve a spot on this list.
83- Worms Armageddon (1999):
We already talked about how Team Buddies is clearly inspired by Worms, and that's because Worms is such an iconic and influential series. The strategy artillery game is deep. engaging, and bloody hilarious. Nothing beats fine-tuning a bazooka shot so that it angles with the wind and blast two worms into the sea. Except, that is, if you blow up three enemies with a Holy Grail bomb.
At this stage, if you didn't play the original 2D Worms game, then you should just stop reading and purchase one now. If you do decide to purchase the game, then you will probably play it on the PC, where the game is probably most suited for.
82- Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit (EA):
I am not a big fan of racing games but I grew up around others who were, and they always liked the Need for Speed games. Now that I tried the reportedly best game in the series on the PS1, I can say that it is a fun game. Featuring around eight cars and eight tracks, the game is not bursting through the seams with content, but there is enough for it not to be a bore.
However, if you compare the mechanics to games like Sega Rally, then this game is a bit lacking, to be honest. The driving isn't as nice as those games, but that's a high bar to begin with.
81- Doom (1995):
I don't understand why Retro Sanctuary insists on putting Doom on the top 100 list of every damn console in the 1990s. There are several games that deserve this spot more than Doom, especially because this port is not as good as the PC original.
This report is a consolidated review of the top 100 list by Retro Sanctuary. It features the reviews I made for the list but also has a brief paragraph about each game on the list that I didn't review. For games without an official review, the opinions I express are purely based on some little playing time and general research about the game and its reception at the time.