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Added by Ashley Winchester on 8 Sep 2012 08:53

AW's Favorite Video Games

Sort by: Showing 31 items
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People who added this item 339 Average listal rating (246 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 0
Mega Man 2 - Famicom and NES

Released: 1989

You know, I didn't want to do this. The last thing I wanted to do was to place such an obvious no-brainer at the beginning of the list. Still, I had no choice. Mega Man 2 on the NES was one the first console-based video games I ever played and it ended up being one of the most important. Man, the memories I have of playing this at my friend's house in the early nineties remain all too clear. Even clearer are the temper-tantrums he would throw because I wanted to play this more than the lame-ass Bases Loaded games. Such tears aside, I can't trace the beginning of my interest into console video games to any other source: Mega Man 2 was the game that opened the floodgates and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Still, as warm and fuzzy as that story may make me and others feel, in recent years I can't help feel that Mega Man 2 has become overrated. It was a definite step up from the unforgiving original, and I couldn't muster up much in the way of a negative or two after replaying it recently, but its horn has been tooted by an endless parade of players over the years. I would rather praise other games that aren't as revered in its place. Regardless, as a steadfast classic Mega Man 2 will always be there, waiting to be mentioned at the interval of any gaming conversation.

That said, as welcome as such reflections may be, my introduction to console gaming through Mega Man 2 would become important in other ways years later. While it wasn't apparent at time (even though I did love the music back then) the soundtrack for Mega Man 2 was the initial spark in my interest in video game music.

(Author's Note: I'm going to take a moment to address something my brother-in-law said to me in response to reading my thoughts on Mega Man 2 on a different but related list. I know just because Mega Man 2 was and still is popular doesn't mean it's overrated and, if the game is indeed overrated, that doesn't necessarily make it bad. Still, since everyone and their mother is familiar with Mega Man 2 I don't like to spend a lot of time talking about it.)
Ashley Winchester's rating:
People who added this item 106 Average listal rating (63 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 0

Released: 1990

Mega Man 2 may have laid the foundation when it comes to me and my interest in console video games but it wasn't long before Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos built the actual house. As simple as the games in the franchise seem in today's world, the things that set these games apart back in the late eighties and early nineties (like their dark and mature narratives) made them instantly appealing to me.

People were shot, killed and even stabbed in Ninja Gaiden II. Yeah, it wasn't overly graphic (it didn't need to be) but there were few NES games that were that blunt and, perhaps most important of all, it wasn't censored beyond cleaning up a few low-grade obscenities from the script. What's ironic about this is the game would be altered the second time around on the Super Nintendo in the Ninja Gaiden Trilogy which is nowhere near as good as people think it is.

Still, Ninja Gaiden II doesn't just deliver on the storyline front. The gameplay quickly overshadowed the similar but different Castlevania games to me and like the aforementioned series it was as tough as nails. You definitely felt like you accomplished something when you beat this sucker and unlike the first game (you know what I'm talking about) it was actually plausible.

(Author's Note: You may notice that when I talk about Mega Man 2 and The Dark Sword of Chaos I refer to them as a "console" games. I am not doing this from a PC elitist standpoint, but to differentiate them from the all the old DOS games I played on my old IBM computer prior to experiencing NES for the first time. Both games were vastly different and more advanced than those titles so I feel there should be a degree of separation when talking about them. Rest assured I won't be bringing this up again unless I need to tackle something regarding a handheld game and a comparison to consoles is needed.)
Ashley Winchester's rating:
People who added this item 39 Average listal rating (18 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 0

Released: 1991

As blunt as it may seem, I have a lot to say about this one. Having replayed it recently I can't help but feel that Dr. Wily's Revenge is a very misunderstood game and that the degree and kind of difficulty it is known for is somewhat of a misnomer.

To be fair I think I've always had a thing for this game... but even I (back when I originally played it as a child) had a lot of problems completing it. Yes, I even resorted to using a Game Genie. But as I replayed this one I noticed something about the game's final level (the source of most people's frustration) that eluded me back then.

As foreign as this may sound the last level isn't cheap or ill-designed like some of the original, NES Mega Man is. In many ways it is brilliantly designed... but the game's developers just kind of over thought it and assumed gamers would "get it." If you try and tackle the level without using all the options (weapons) available to you there's a significant chance that you'll stumble in your quest to clear the level. You really need to know when to use each weapon and when to conserve them. Really, this is all there is to it. You just have to play smart.

After I acknowledged this (and beat the game fairly for the first time in my life) I realized that Dr. Wily's Revenge was actually a pretty damn good game and that I enjoy it a lot more the original game on the Nintendo in many ways. I know this is just my opinion but I honestly do feel the game is criticized just a little too much.

(Author's Note: If I'm going to speak up in Dr. Wily's Revenge's defense, I have to at least mention that the soundtrack for this game is phenomenal. The tracks are actually re-arranged renditions of the music Manami Matsumae wrote for the original game on the NES and in my opinion they are greatly superior. You have no idea how happy I am that this soundtrack is getting an official release in December 2014!)
Ashley Winchester's rating:
People who added this item 134 Average listal rating (81 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 0

Released: 1991

When it comes to video games I don't think I'll ever stop questioning deal fate has handed Metroid II in the minds of many players. Personally I've always seen it as one of the finest titles for the original GameBoy (let alone handhelds in general) yet some Metroid fans act as if the game doesn't exist.

In a certain manner of speaking I get why that is. The franchise is home to some great games (Super Metroid is the only game that comes to my mind when the word "perfect" is used in conjunction with "video game") so there is some serious competition when it comes to each person billing their favorite Metroid title. Obvious as that may be Metroid II's narrative (or objective) is still is pretty instrumental to the overall story line so you'd think players would be interested and want to experience what happens between the first and third games... but then you can kind of summarize it in a small paragraph or two like they did in the opening of Super Metroid.

Of course, maybe I have it wrong. Maybe more people than I think like Metroid II. Maybe I just run into the wrong clusters of gamers. Anyway, if you haven't played this one I'd recommend giving it a try: it's short, to the point and more than affordable to procure even today.

(Author's Note: I should probably mention that Metroid II: Return of Samus was the first game in the franchise I had the chance to play and own... so, I'm sure nostalgia does factor into this choice. Still, if my fondness for Metroid II was as shallow as that makes it sound I'm sure it would have fallen a few pegs in my personal hierarchy the after playing Super Metroid for the first time... which was pretty damn magical in and of itself.)
Ashley Winchester's rating:
People who added this item 856 Average listal rating (1141 ratings) 8.6 IMDB Rating 0
Super Mario World - Super famicom and SNES

Released: 1991

Sorry fans of Super Mario Bros.3... I recently replayed Super Mario World (can't remember the last time I played it) and damn did I come away from it thinking it's the best two-dimensional Mario game you can get your hands on. It's crazy to think that this game was actually a launch title! Of course, such a decree will probably raise three questions: why is this better than Super Mario Bros.3, what about the New Super Mario Bros franchise and best two-dimensional Mario?

Super Mario World edges out Super Mario Bros.3 mainly because World has a better sense of balance as the overall difficulty scales much better over the course of the game. Second, I've played a few of the New Super Mario Bros games and I thought they were, with all due respect, pale facsimiles of much better games and I say best two-dimensional Mario because I've never played any of the three-dimensional Mario games. No, I don't count the few minutes I had with a demo of Mario 64 prior to the Nintendo 64's launch as legitimate time with the game.

As for getting around to some more Mario games... I just don't see it happening. Super Mario Bros.2 has aged so poorly and I did have a copy of Super Mario Galaxy around a few months ago but it never made it near my Wii so I sent it to my friend in Canada who I hope will show it more love than I ever could.

(Author's Note: If reading the above makes you want to suggest playing Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island to me, I hate to inform you that I did play Yoshi's Island not too long ago... and I really hated the damn thing. In no way would I ever consider it a proper sequel or prequel to Super Mario World.)
People who added this item 222 Average listal rating (138 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 0
Super Castlevania IV - Super famicom and SNES

Released: 1991

Before I even get into why I like Super Castlevania IV so much I should go on a small tangent and explain my problem with the game's title. If it's a retelling of the original game why in the hell would you imply that it's a sequel by placing IV in the title? Ugh! Just calling it "Super Castlevania" would have been fine....

Okay, now that my rant is over, Super Castlevania IV is an important game to me because it's the earliest game in the series that grabs me. While some will not agree, Castlevania, Castlevania II and Castlevania III were overshadowed by the Ninja Gaiden games (especially The Dark Sword of Chaos) during the rather limited experience I had with the original Nintendo during my childhood. Add in Ninja Gaiden's focus on story and friendlier controls, and the fact that were no original/new Ninja Gaiden games on the Super Nintendo, there wasn't any kind of battle for attention since Ninja Gaiden Trilogy was kind of sloppy, overrated and rare.

As a game Super Castlevania IV feels a lot more refined than the first three games to me. There doesn't seem to be as many cheap shots and most of the time the loss of a life really is on the player. However, as much as I enjoy the game I have run into some opposing opinions of the game in recent years (like egoraptor's Sequelitis video on YouTube) that I feel hold a significant amount of credence... so this isn't a game that I will vigorously defend to the death with a silly, fanboyish debate. Some elements of the game like sub weapons were indirectly neutered to make it more accessible and player friendly.

(Author's Note: Not to sound like an ass, but please don't bother giving me a lecture about why Castlevania's controls had to be the way they were in the old days. I'm not really interested in the reason why or what the excuse is because I've probably heard every take on it humanly possible.)
People who added this item 56 Average listal rating (26 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 0

Released: 1991

Wow! All I have to say is 1991 was a great year for the Castlevania series. Flat out, Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge succeeds on so many levels: it is much better than 1989's Castlevania: The Adventure (no contest!) and the soundtrack is simply phenomenal. Ironically, it was the soundtrack that eventually lead me to buy this one and I regret waiting as long as I did. Revenge is easily worth its asking price on the second hand market these days.

But really, I can't understate how well this game nails old-school Castlevania. I appreciate what Castlevania I, II and III did on the original Nintendo but I have to admit that I sold off those ones since they never clicked with me. Granted it is not quite the black and white and white issue I'm making it out to be but I've always had a complicated relationship with the original Castlevania trilogy most likely due to Tecmo's Ninja Gaiden franchise stealing a lot of it is thunder. Then again my experience with the NES back during its heyday was kind of limited. I could continue to speculate this for hours but given that it's speculation it's kind of pointless since I've never been able to pin down how I feel.

Anyway, that massive derailment above aside, if you like games for Nintendo's original, portable gray brick (especially good ones) this game should definitely be on your radar. Before purchasing it I thought I pretty much knew everything the franchise had to offer. At times it feels so good to be wrong in that regard.

(Author's Note: While I already made note of the music in Belmont's Revenge and Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge... the truth is all the GameBoy games I've included on this list have great soundtracks. Yes, this even applies to Metroid II which some people like to take shots at because it's mostly an ambient score and isn't as accessible as the music in other Metroid games.)
Ashley Winchester's rating:
People who added this item 165 Average listal rating (113 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 0
Kirby's Dream Land - Game Boy

Released: 1992

As blunt as such an admission may seem, Kirby's Dream Land is a case where my warm and fuzzy feelings for the twenty-two year old game may be poisoning my present-day objectivity with other Kirby fare.

When it comes to Nintendo's various intellectual properties my relationship with Kirby is without a doubt the most tumultuous. Now I can't say the original Kirby's Dream Land is perfect, it's clearly not as it's way too short and way too easy as far as a games go, but those things fail to matter when you get to the heart of the matter. So while I can admit the game isn't perfect, the original Dream Land still ends up being the golden standard I compare every other Kirby game to... and having played most of the immediate follow-ups like Dream Land 2 and Adventure I have yet to find other game in the series that even comes close to the original.

As for what actually fuels my inability to enjoy later Kirby games (you know, beyond the entire nostalgia goggles thing) I have a few ideas I kick around (maybe that the stage design seems lackluster a lot of time...?) but in the end I really hate putting money down on them when I have such a horrible track record with them. Still, I think this is something that is unlikely to change... I'm too set in my opinion at this point.

(Author's Note: When I share my dislike of almost every Kirby game in with other gamers I'm often asked about Kirby's famous copy ability. Nope, sorry. I understand how this ability added so much to the games but it doesn't enhance the gameplay enough to make me care about the games any more than I do.)
Ashley Winchester's rating:
People who added this item 19 Average listal rating (9 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 0
ToeJam & Earl: Panic on Funkotron - Sega Genesis and Mega Drive

Released: 1993

When I was growing up with the Super Nintendo there were only three Sega franchises to be jealous of: Sonic the Hedgehog, Panzer Dragoon and ToeJam and Earl.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that many will disagree, I don't think old-school Sonic games have aged particularly well as the last time I busted them out for a play through my most recent experience didn't really line up with the memories I had. Panzer Dragoon II Zwei (!) on the Sega Saturn has thankfully aged better although I still haven't gone back to it to see if I can beat the last boss now that a decade and a half has passed since my last attempt. This really leaves ToeJam and Earl: Panic on Funkotron to fill the void as my favorite Sega Genesis game.

That said, what perplexes me about this game, or rather franchise, is how many gamers consider the original ToeJam & Earl to be superior. I borrowed the first game from a friend at one point and I just couldn't see what people saw in it... although I guess the fact that it doesn't quite adhere to the rules of your everyday platformer as Panic on Funkotron does could be seen as a plus to some people. Still, I'm sure the fact that I played the sequel first really does have a lot to do with my fondness for it over the original.

(Author's Note: Not to ruin what's ahead... but there aren't many games from Sega consoles to be found on this list. It's not that I have a bias against Sega consoles, I just didn't have as much exposure to their wares as I did to Nintendo and Sony when I was younger. The games that did end up on here I experienced when briefly borrowing Sega consoles from various acquaintances years ago. As sparse at the choices are overall I'm glad I became aware of them when I did.)
People who added this item 375 Average listal rating (412 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 0
DOOM - PC Games

Released: 1993~96 (entry covers Doom, Doom II and half of Final Doom)

Without going into it too deeply, Doom is a very special game to me. Granted I wasn't really there when this thing was lighting up PCs and clogging computer networks back in 1993, but despite that I can easily appreciate the insanely excellent design philosophy that went into Doom and its immediate sequels.

However, to those that know my taste in games (and those that are reading this list) my relationship and fondness for Doom may be somewhat surprising as I generally grew to dislike where the first person shooter genre ended up after Doom and id Software helped put it on the map. Sure, like many I did enjoy Goldeneye 007 on the Nintendo 64 (despite the fact that I completely sucked at it and my friends had fun romping on me in multiplayer) and the Retro Studio's Metroid Prime games ended up surprising me but beyond those few reprieves the genre still failed to ensnare me.

However, even today I still think the original Doom games shine brightly... even brighter than Doom 3 which (in my opinion) completely misunderstood the point of the damn franchise. Yes, these games are a bit simple compared to today's fare, but there's an underlying beauty within that simplicity that just seems incapable of being replicated even with better technology... and I love that.

(Author's Note: You may be wondering why I only give props to half of Final Doom above. It's actually quite simple. I don't see how anyone can defend The Plutonia Experiment expansion and say that it is any good. Holy hell [no pun intended] does it make Doom an absolute chore to play.)
People who added this item 247 Average listal rating (161 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 0
Star Fox - Super famicom and SNES

Released: 1993

In a certain manner of speaking I find it kind of odd how much I've come to enjoy and respect the original Star Fox in recent years. Like most Nintendo franchises I failed to follow it when the franchise debuted on the Nintendo 64 (the library on the PS1 was just too damn alluring!) and when I went back and tried to catch up on that missing segment of gaming history with a handful of "revered classics" things didn't really pan out too well....

In all honesty I don't know what draws me to the SNES original more than the Nintendo 64 take but I think it is more than a simple case of blind nostalgia. By the time I got to play Star Fox 64 I felt some of the improvements hindered the gameplay more than they helped. While the graphical presentation of both games have obviously aged it astounds me how cinematic the original Star Fox can make a small handful of polygons appear even today. You can't take that kind of accomplishment lightly and the gameplay (while simple) is enough to back it up.

However, while I wasn't really "there" for the games that followed, I can't help but feel disappointed in how Nintendo handled the franchise on the platforms after the Nintendo 64. I don't believe some of the games are as terrible as some people claim... but I can't help but think that Nintendo didn't have the franchise's best interest at heart and I can't help but have a tinge or regret about that.

(Author's Note: As the above reflects, I grew up owning a PlayStation during the 32/64-bit era. I tried going back and playing some of the Nintendo 64 games I missed out on but I honestly feel I didn't miss out on much by switching sides and going with Sony during that generation. One the bigger mistakes [which may have turned out to be a blessing] was there was no Metroid title for the Nintendo 64. Having a Metroid title might have made me think twice about leaving camp Nintendo.)
Ashley Winchester's rating:
People who added this item 325 Average listal rating (233 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 0
Mega Man X - Super famicom and SNES

Released: 1994

When you look at the big picture it's not hard to see why the original Mega Man X should be revered. As a game that kicks off a new sub-series for the franchise it's much more refined than the original Mega Man and a lot more player friendly as well. Still, what makes Mega Man X so great is that Capcom just nailed the mix here: conventions that where unbroken with the original series where left alone and the areas that could benefit from improvement without betraying the franchise's underlying principles were upgraded with great care.

However, I should probably be honest here and admit that for years I kind of overlooked many of the things that made Mega Man X so great and I have to credit egoraptor's Sequelitis video on YouTube for pointing out just how well this game teaches the player about its world. I mean I always knew that the original Mega Man X was a great game, but like so many others out there I guess that opinion became so ingrained within that I didn't even think about why the game should be played and remembered.

The game has held up amazingly well over the years but the greatness of Mega Man X unfortunately comes at a price. While the eventual sequels were pretty good up until Mega Man X5, it's a bitter pill to swallow when something so right would eventually go so wrong. However, most would agree that the original Mega Man X shouldn't be retroactively cited for the sins of its predecessors.

(Author's Note: As you can probably gather from the above I am a pretty big fan of the Mega Man X series. Capcom has failed at a lot of things over the years but I kind of consider the mishandling of the later Mega Man X games to be one of the more grievous offenses. It's true that these are just video games but damn, it was kind of hard watching [and playing] the franchise's backwards slide into video game hell.)
Ashley Winchester's rating:
People who added this item 464 Average listal rating (314 ratings) 8.7 IMDB Rating 0
Super Metroid - Super famicom and SNES

Released: 1994

Yeah, another one of those games that falls into the "no crap" category....

I know I've said this many times before (I'm pretty sure I said it in the Metroid II overview) but when it comes to the word "perfect" being used in conjunction with "video game" thoughts of Super Metroid are never far away. Along with a significant portion of the Metroid fan base, I personally see this as one of the best games in the franchise but I kind of differenate how I put it by saying it is the best Nintendo produced game in the franchise. Holy hell Super Metroid did so much right... but at the same time it doesn't make me forget how good some of the other games really are.

There are a ton of things to touch upon when talking about this game but in a certain sense it's kind of pointless to get into them here because I'm sure many of those reading are already know of them. If they aren't then I don't know what you're waiting for... go download this thing on the virtual console now.

However, if I was going to razz Super Metroid for one thing, it's that subsequent playthroughs, while still very entertaining, can never quite recapture the level of awe as one's initial play-through, an experience I will never, ever forget. I really wish you could capture that kind of lightning in a bottle and harvest it so you can revisit but you can't. Definitely a highlight for the franchise and the console, but not the end all, be all of what can be done with Metroid.

(Author's Note: I should probably explain why I consider Super Metroid the best "Nintendo produced" Metroid game and not the best game in the series overall. It's actually quite easy. While it's going to spoil a later pick, I find it so unjust to pit Super Metroid and Metroid Prime against one another when it comes to crowning the best game in the franchise. Both games are fantastic and contain that Metroid feel despite the differences in their perspective. Second, you just have to give Retro Studios a ton of credit for even pulling Metroid Prime off in the first place. Again, it's just dumb to pit them against one another.)
People who added this item 68 Average listal rating (21 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 0
Breath of Fire II - Game Boy Advance

Released: 1995 (SNES), 2002 (GBA)

As curious as it sounds, what I'm going to say about Breath of Fire II might stun some of those reading (while it might relieve others) but I've got to be honest about this one. This game really isn't in the same league as most of the other games on this list. Yeah, I know that's okay in this case as the entire list is just based on my opinion and experiences (and there are some other, lower totem pole choices later) but when it comes to Breath of Fire II there are two things I'm certain of: the third game is marginally better (quite possibly the best in the series) and the second game's importance to me was a case of it coming along at the right time.

But the funny thing about that last part is I can't quite remember when I first played Breath of Fire II or where it fell in correlation to playing other, more notable role-playing games like Final Fantasy VII, Breath of Fire III and Wild Arms. However, I do remember being very taken by this title despite some of its obvious deficiencies. Ironically it was the small, curious things that attracted me to Breath of Fire II (like the game's somewhat scathing parody of real-life, Judeo-Christian religions which seems pretty intentional) and it still managed to pull me in years later when I played the insanely nice Game Boy Advance port.

In fact, the Game Boy Advance port is so good, I don't even see the need to own the SNES original. I'll admit that it would have been nice for Capcom to give the game a new translation for this port (seriously guys!) but the small fixes generally make this version superior. I can't say Breath of Fire II will win anyone over yet those who give it a chance just might discover there is something interesting below the surface.

(Author's Note: I'm sorry, but I just have to point this out to those that haven't played it: there is a quest in Breath of Fire II that is a very clear parody of a classic 1980's sci-fi movie. Yes, a Japanese-RPG from the other side of the world references a blockbuster movie and it is absolutely priceless. What's surprising is I got the reference and I never even saw the movie until I was much, much older.)
People who added this item 36 Average listal rating (13 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 0
Panzer Dragoon II Zwei - Sega Saturn

Released: 1996

Like some of my other lists, I should probably point out the slight redundancy in this game's title. "Zwei" means "two" in German, so if you want to get technical the game is actually called Panzer Dragoon II Two. I'm not really sure why they did something that kooky... but I'm probably not the only person who thinks that adding word "Zwei" to the title makes it sound much more robust :)

Anyways, while it's not quite a direct relationship given the difference in console manufacturer, my fondness for the original Star Fox on the Super Nintendo was eventually continued by my fondness for Panzer Dragoon II Zwei on the Sega Saturn. To this day I'm not quite sure why I like Zwei more than the original Panzer Dragoon, but this is another instance where you can sum it up as Zwei being the right game at the right time. Some might wonder why Panzer Dragoon Saga isn't on my list (answer: never played it) but I don't think I'll ever forget playing the crap out of this and Tomb Raider when borrowing my cousin's Sega Saturn when I was younger.

As a console exclusive Zwei is the Saturn's killer app to me even today and it is essentially the reason I own the console. The only negative about the game (which is actually more of a personal shortcoming) is I've never actually beaten the game. I got to the final boss when I when I was younger but I still haven't gotten around to taking another stab at it a decade plus later. I really should get around to that even though I already know what happens during the ending.

(Author's Note: Those that have played any of the Panzer Dragoon games know what I'm referring to with the last sentence above in regards to the ending... but I don't want to ruin it for those who haven't played any of the games. It pretty much happens at the end of every Panzer Dragoon game, doesn't it...?)
People who added this item 414 Average listal rating (255 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 0
Tomb Raider - PlayStation

Released: 1996

Yeah... I'm going to be a bit biased with this one, but I think most people tend to be with games the introduce them to a whole new dimension in gaming. The original Tomb Raider was, for most intensive purposes, my first 3D platformer and I wouldn't want it any other way. However, the original Tomb Raider gets so many brownie points from me due to the missteps of its countless predecessors. While the games that followed like Tomb Raider II aren't horrible by any means (although I really do dislike Tomb Raider III) and they don't stray too far from the original as far as gameplay is concerned the differences in vision when it comes to the locals the games take place in make them as different as night and day to me when the whole picture is considered.

Then there is the my opinion that the original game doesn't use Lara's sexuality as a crutch as much as the sequels do. Oh yes, the game does make mention of Lara's "assets" (check out the tagline on the back cover) but it's not shoved down your throat as much as it was in Tomb Raider II where it was the whole point of the incredibly sexist (and hilarious) ending :P

Again, I'm willing to admit that a lot of these thoughts are fueled by nostalgia but at the same time the Tomb Raider series was eventually knocked out by its over exposure and the fact that this occurred within the span of one console's lifespan is incredibly sad. I know some will say the franchise bounced back a little when Crystal Dynamics took over after Core's Angel of Darkness debacle but having been there since the beginning you just can't make me forget some of those unfortunate moments even when the original game means as much as it does to me.

(Author's Note: If your going to ask me if I liked Crystal Dynamics' Lara Croft: Tomb Raider Anniversary I'd suggest that you don't. Yeah, I guess it wasn't bad but I have a slew of issues with how certain things were altered and presented. Sorry, but I'd still take the original game over it in all of its blocky glory. Also don't get me started in how the recent reboot was also called Tomb Raider. I'm not going to start calling this game "Tomb Raider 1996" just because of that.)
Ashley Winchester's rating:
People who added this item 473 Average listal rating (324 ratings) 8.6 IMDB Rating 0

Released: 1997

To be honest Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is a game I kind of hate to talk about. I can't deny that I vividly remember the first time I actually got to see and play this game at a friend's birthday party (where my other friend and I got so wrapped up in it we forgot we were there to celebrate our friend's birth...) but I can't help but feel that some fans have forged a rather unhealthy love for this title and the style of gameplay it cultivated... or rather borrowed.

However, I do think this is the best "Castleriod" and that the following games paled design wise to various degrees (although Aria comes pretty close in my opinion) but after about seven games in the same style I kind of see Konami's point in wanting to take Castlevania in a new direction as the sales numbers started to dwindle. This doesn't mean I'm entirely on board with everything that Mercury Steam has done with the (now concluded) Lords of Shadow trilogy but I don't see the point of demonizing it or flat out ignoring it like some do.

As unpopular as such an opinion generally is, I honestly I think Konami and IGA did all they could do with this formula and I believe there wasn't a second bullet in the chamber to create another game as great as this. I think that Konami kind of tied the hands of IGA's development team by giving them a horribly limited production budgets to create these games... but I think most gamers would be familiar with the law of diminishing returns and realize that no concept is really immune to that. But then I visit message boards on GameFAQs and realize I'm completely wrong in that regard :P

(Author's Note: Much like Capcom's somewhat recent shelving of Mega Man, Konami retiring the Metroidvania formula doesn't really make me mad like it does some others. Everything runs its course and in Metroidvania's case there have been some excellent indie games that have carried on this style of gameplay with some fresh ideas. Seriously, if you look around you don't need Castlevania to get your Metroidvania "fix" these days.)
People who added this item 141 Average listal rating (88 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 0
Mega Man X4 - PlayStation

Released: 1997

While you can't say that Mega Man X4 is as fresh as the Super NES original, I'm often dumbfounded how I forget that the series is on its fourth installment when I play this one. The addition of a fully playable Zero was genius (even though splitting X and Zero's story lines here is where the series' canon starts to get fudged up) and makes a great game even greater. Even though it essentially uses the engine from from Mega Man 8 (which sold more copies than this for some insane, stupid reason) Capcom couldn't have produced a better game to commemorate Mega Man's 10th anniversary. Throw in an excellent soundtrack and some enemies you actually feel bad about retiring and it is easy to see why this was one of the last great Mega Man games to be produced.

The only bad thing about Mega Man X4 (aside from some horrible voice acting) is what's reflected in the last sentence of the proceeding paragraph. After Mega Man X4 there was an obvious decline in quality in the games that followed and my God was it freaking painful to watch and play through. Of course, back when these games were coming out I kind of turned a blind eye to it due to some kind of bizarre, video game-based denial but after a while you've got to cut the cord and hold Capcom responsible for franchises' diminishing returns.

Last but not least, I'm sure that me drawing the line at 1997 and/or 1998 (e.g. Mega Man Legends) for the last great Mega Man games is sure to draw some raised eyebrows (especially since that is before the release of the Mega Man Zero games) but sorry, I got to call them as I see them :P

(Author's Note: I'm sure those reading the above might wonder if I own the Sega Saturn version of Mega Man X4. I actually did a few months ago but I sold it off because trying to play the game with the Sega Saturn controller is a big pain in the ass. I can get away with it when playing Mega Man 8... Mega Man X4 not so much.)
Ashley Winchester's rating:
People who added this item 15 Average listal rating (3 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 0
Wild Arms - PlayStation

Released: 1997

I don't know any other way to disarm the obvious J-RPG time bomb that's ticking on this list... but if you are expecting the obligatory Final Fantasy title to pop up we're already past the point where it would have showed up. I can not add Final Fantasy VI to the list at this point because I haven't played the game in over a decade despite owning it and no, Final Fantasy VII wouldn't have made the list.

Despite that, I should probably admit that like a lot of people Final Fantasy VII was my first role-playing game so it does kind of deserve some props for that... but as far as being one of my favorite games in the genre it's not even close. I would rather talk up this game because what Wild Arms lacks in sheen it more than makes up for with heart... and that's what sad about this game. Wild Arms wasn't born with a silver spoon in its mouth but holy cow does it do a great job with what it has access to. However, while Wild Arms generally did score well across the board when it was released, game reviewers didn't really give it the benefit of the doubt as most dubbed it as a "filler" title.

What's ironic about that statement is if all filler titles were as good as Wild Arms then there would never be a shortage of great games to play. Blunt as it sounds I've never considered the original Wild Arms to be mere filler, and yes, I would take this game over any Final Fantasy title in existence. Wild Arms deserved a lot more attention than it originally received and I'm not shy about voicing that opinion even today.

(Author's Note: Wild Arms was released a few months before Squaresoft's Final Fantasy VII in 1997. If you fail to see why it was important for Wild Arms to have that small jump on that kind of impending behemoth I don't know if you can consider yourself much of a J-RPG aficionado.)
People who added this item 111 Average listal rating (49 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 0
Brave Fencer Musashi - PlayStation

Released: 1998

As blunt as it may sound, Brave Fencer Musashi is a game (much like Wild Arms above) that I will defend rather fiercely if given the chance. Why am I so vocal over Brave Fencer Musashi? Well, the game came packaged with a "perk" that harmed it retroactively. If you are still in the dark about what I'm talking about, Brave Fencer Musashi was "the free game that came with the Final Fantasy VIII demo." Yes, this is how some referred to this game back when it was released and even today because they cared more about that (expletive) demo than the damn game they were buying.

This kind of attitude upsets me on multiple levels. For one, I don't look back at Final Fantasy VIII in a very positive light (mainly because of Squall, Rinoa and that game's wretched attempt at a love story) and more importantly as a game Brave Fencer Musashi deserved much more than being a demo delivery service. Yeah, the game probably sold more copies because of the demo but after Final Fantasy VIII was released in its entirety people didn't care anymore.

But seriously, I can't even begin to talk about how damn charming this game is. Unlike some other Squaresoft products of the time Brave Fencer Musashi didn't really flaunt the fact that it was made by a company that had more money than it knew what to do with. Brave Fencer Musashi had an X factor that those glossy games lacked. Musashi had some actual soul to it and it knew how to have fun and that's why it's so disappointing that so many overlooked it or looked at it for the wrong reasons.

(Author's Note: I should probably cover the two elephants in the room while I'm talking about Brave Fencer Musashi. First of all, whoever uses the phase "Zelda Killer" in regards to this game can [expletive] off. I really doubt that Squaresoft intended to challenge or usurp power from Nintendo's Zelda franchise with this game. Second, the sequel to this game, Samurai Legend Musashi, sucks balls [pardon my French] and Square-Enix should be ashamed of themselves. I don't know how you can get the first game so right and completely screw it up that bad the second time.)
People who added this item 468 Average listal rating (413 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 0

Released: 1998

You know, I have to admit that it's odd looking back and thinking about how the studio that's behind the Uncharted franchise and The Last of Us first cut its teeth on something like Crash Bandicoot. I know the way I phrased that doesn't sound too respectful but in many ways those properties seem vastly different when it comes to general things like believably and realism but I guess it's kind of dumb to lump those two concepts with video games to begin with. I guess you could say they are more realistic and plausible. Eh... I should probably quit before I dig this hole too deep....

Anyway, the reasoning behind Warped's placement on this list is easy to break down. The original Crash Bandicoot... kind of sucks now. Ouch! Yes, the original game has not aged well. I paid out the ass for a near mint black boarder of it and all I did was screw myself out of forty dollars. Oops! The second game, while having some issues of its own, is much better and is digestible enough to still be enjoyed today. As for Crash 3? Dude, it's even better! Yes, the third time is the charm for everyone's favorite Bandicoot!

The continued improvement these games showed as Naughty Dog progressed with the sequels is astounding and should be commended. Hell, the fact that Warped is so good is probably why the studio moved on from the property following this game. I don't know how you could top this and hell, Naughty Dog even took a concept I hate the ever living hell out of and made me love it. There is no other game on the planet that can get me to tolerate time trails... but somehow Warped does it and makes it a blast! Easily one of the best side scrollers I have ever played.

(Author's Note: I should probably get this admission out of the way, but I've never played any Crash Bandicoot game after Warped. Why? It may sound short sighted but if Naughty Dog didn't have anything to do with a given game I don't want to bother with it. However, I've heard rumors that Sony has recently repurchased the rights to the Crash franchise. That's interesting... but it still doesn't fill me with a lot of hope.)
Ashley Winchester's rating:
People who added this item 104 Average listal rating (52 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 0
Mega Man Legends - PlayStation

Released: 1998

Originally titled as "Mega Man Neo" then "Mega Man Nova," Mega Man Legends is that one game that asks the question "what is in a name?" You can poke fun at the multiple name changes all you want, but the Japanese title is even more wonky: Rockman DASH with DASH being an acronym for "Digouter's Adventure Stories in the Halcyon Days." Yeah, that's a mouthful :P

However, speaking of mouthfuls, Mega Man Legends is a game I hate to defend because the attack from the game's detractors has always been the same: that Mega Man Legends sucks because it isn't a side-scroller. I wish I was joking but that tends to be the basis of their damn argument. But let's think about this for a moment. Looking at the original and X franchises (or at least where they were back in 1998) didn't we have enough MM side-scrollers? Personally I was pretty damn ecstatic about the possibility of a three-dimensional Mega Man game back before the game's release and while the franchise did have its share of issues at least it didn't crash and burn like certain other franchises did when making the transition to 3D. Seriously, do I even have to mention 2003's Mega Man X7?

But enough about that, what about the things Mega Man Legends does right? It never stops to amaze me how many people overlook the rich and textured world this game presents. I've heard that lame-ass, snarky comeback "you play Mega Man games for story, ha ha!" bit more times than I care to recount... but when a Mega Man franchise actually offers a decent story (and the sequels shockingly build upon it) people turn away. I don't get it. I will never get it and I don't want to get it. Mega Man Legends has been cited as one of Keiji Inafune's favorite games and I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment. Unfortunately, he also likes that piece of crap that is Mega Man & Bass so....

(Author's Note: Two things I want to cover concerning the Legends series. First of all, I don't care that the Servbots look like Lego Men... the Servbots are [expletive] awesome! Seriously, they should be in the Encyclopedia Britanica under the term "comic relief." Second, I know Capcom gets a lot of flack for the voice acting in their PS1 games but have you heard the voice acting in these games? It's amazing that Capcom could get it so wrong with the original Resident Evil but totally nail this...? Yeah, makes no sense to me either....)
People who added this item 535 Average listal rating (444 ratings) 8.4 IMDB Rating 0
Resident Evil 2 - PlayStation

Released: 1998

When it comes to sequels, Resident Evil 2 is a lot like Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos on the Nintendo. The changes and improvements Capcom made in this highly anticipated sequel made it that much better of a game but it's not a quantum leap over the original game. To put in other terms, these two games more-or-less refined and fine tuned what their respective franchises offered and it paid off in spades. This is one of the biggest reasons I played the ever living hell out of this game during my teen years. I seriously got my moneys worth out of this game before my cousin accidentally damaged it by leaving it in his Jeep with the top down during a rainstorm... but by that point I was ready to move on to other games. Still, years later I got the itch to reacquire and play through this one again and that plan seemed to be all-systems-go until I realized a cold and hard fact:

I had overplayed the game in my youth and really had no desire to replay it.

So if I have yet to regain the desire to play this game again why in the hell is it on this list? My over exposure to the game isn't the game's fault... that one lies with me. I'm not going to discredit the game or fail to give it the well-deserved shout out it should receive just because I over did it when I was younger... and boy did I overdo it! I had played Resident Evil 2 so much that I didn't touch any of the following games for years and when I did try and go back and experience the games I missed I still felt like I was overdosing. I do not hate Resident Evil games because of this but the fact that I did that much damage to my taste for them with a single game just sucks :(

(Author's Note: Given how much damage overplaying this game did towards my interest in the franchise, I'm sure some are wondering if the "reinvention" of the series in Resident Evil 4 did anything to coax my interest out of its self-induced hibernation. Sadly that failed to be the case. I really did want RE4 to be enough for me to come back but it just wasn't in the cards.)
People who added this item 85 Average listal rating (30 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 0
SaGa Frontier - PlayStation

Released: 1998

Winner of the *prestigious* "one man's trash is another man's treasure" award, SaGa Frontier is probably the lowest hanging fruit on this list when it comes to the perceived level of quality most gamers attribute to it and I am not going to leap to its defense it because most of the criticism leveled at it is valid. In all seriousness it is insanely clear why SaGa Frontier failed to be a notable follow up to critically acclaimed Final Fantasy VII for most people... but in my case it is not that simple.

If you were to ask me to explain why I like SaGa Frontier I probably wouldn't be able to come up with an answer. I would stumble in trying to conjure some kind of reason up. However, I think it has to do with the game's focus on reminding players of the role-playing games of yesteryear while being a big, bizarre mess of odds and ends in its attempt to accomplish that goal. I will not mince words here... SaGa Frontier is a mess but the hodgepodge of ideas makes the game more interesting than it would be otherwise. In other words, SaGa Frontier is kind of like an guinea pig in a laboratory. You poke and prod at it to see what kind of reactions you can get out of it... and once you understand all the odd ways it works you can't help but get the urge to fundamentally break it over and over again.

I'll admit that the above makes playing SaGa Frontier sound more fun to play than it probably is but I couldn't imagine not having this game in my collection and not toying around with its inner machinations from time to time. Seriously, its just too damn interesting and entertaining. Perhaps this is why I've probably put more time into it than most of Squaresoft/SquareEnix's other products.

(Author's Note: To those unfamiliar with SaGa Frontier's development history, it might help to know that *part* of the reason the game is so messy is due to the fact it wasn't really finished before it was released. Many things were left on the cutting room floor, but to those that are familiar with the SaGa series in general know the game would be messy even if they did finish it. It's just the way SaGa games tend to be.)
People who added this item 126 Average listal rating (73 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 0
Syphon Filter - PlayStation

Released: 1999~2001 (entry is for entire PS1 trilogy)

I'm sure some people are surprised to see these ones crop up but I really have a lot to say about these and some of it's rather surprising. However, before we get into where these games fall in my personal hierarchy we should probably touch upon where some people feel these games stand in today's world.

About the time that the first three Syphon Filter games first became available on the PlayStation Network, they came under fire by some for not standing the test of time. I'm of the opposite persuasion (you win again nostalgia) but I will admit that these games have aged. However, I don't believe they have aged as poorly as some insinuate. Additionally, I think another big piece of the equation is that Syphon Filter, as a franchise, is a period piece. Personally I hate to admit that... but if you did not grow up with these games chances are you're not going to get why Gabe Logan's adventures in counter terrorism mean as much as they do to some people. It's a sad truth but it's a truth that needs to be stated :(

However, while Syphon Filter's prominence really was limited to the PS1 days, it did make the most of it. The original, three game trilogy on the console made a very lasting impression on me and to this day the franchise is synonymous with the PlayStation itself. That's saying something when you factor in the massive amount of great games that came out for Sony's fledgling game machine. While the Syphon Filter series did continue on the PS2 and PSP even I have to admit that its run really did feel over when the lifespan of the PS1 came to a close. I didn't feel it needed it to continue on as long as it did but then I'll always have these games.

(Author's Note: I should probably explain why Syphon Filter makes the cut and Metal Gear Solid doesn't. I can't deny that Metal Gear Solid has one hell of a story but the gameplay doesn't really back it up these days. Of course, in saying that I'm sure some will take issue with me backing these games... but this is a case where I can take a small dip in quality for more quantity. Quality versus quantity pretty much sums up the whole Metal Gear versus Syphon Filter debate.)
Ashley Winchester's rating:
People who added this item 243 Average listal rating (156 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 0
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 - PlayStation

Released: 2000

Pretty much the only sports title that I own, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater was huge back in the PS1 days. Of course in saying that I'm obligated to mention how terrible the franchise's last days were when the barely functioning Tony Hawk's Ride hit the market a few years back (my God, stores couldn't get rid of the damn things) but I am here to talk about infinitely better games and times. Oh yeah... these were good times :)

But this pick begs the question: why Pro Skater 2? Why not the original or even Pro Skater 3? Rest assured that I did enjoy the first game but Hawk 2 just adds certain elements (e.g. manuals) that breaks down the barriers that were present in that game. As for Tony Hawk 3... that is when the magic started to disappear in my opinion. Yeah, the game definitely looked better than the first two games but beyond that it really felt bland to me. However, I should probably point out that the Tony Hawk series has the, er... shall we say "honor" of making me do one of the silliest things I did in my youth and kind of coerced me into buying an actual skateboard. Looking back it is funny considering I am far from being athletic in any way (I am a nerd any way you slice it...) and I couldn't even do something as basic as a damn ollie.

So yeah, Tony Hawk turned me into one hell of a poser back when I was in high school. I can laugh about it now but I guess I have done dumber things with my time and money since then :)

(Author's Note: For those wondering, the skateboard fad came to its end when I went down a big hill at my friends house and completely wiped out. I still have no idea why I went down that hill as I wasn't nearly experienced enough but I did it anyway. As stupid as the whole skating thing was, it did teach me a valuable lesson. By the time the next fad [electric guitars] came about among my other group of friends I was smart enough to not buy into it which I'm thankful for because I am not musically inclined at all.)
People who added this item 128 Average listal rating (53 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 0
Wild Arms 2 - PlayStation

Released: 2000

Much like Brave Fencer Musashi, Wild Arms 2 is a game that got an insanely raw deal back when it debuted in 2000. Despite how much I love this one (it's easily on par with the original) I won't sit here and pretend that certain elements of the game weren't behind the times (e.g. the combat mechanics and graphics) or that other aspects (e.g. music) don't have their problems but the media really over-blew how damaging those things were. They completely ignored that the game has an excellent cast of characters and wonderful narrative.

But if I'm going to praise the franchise's two entries on the PlayStation I have to take the time to admit that WA2 (*in my opinion*) is the last great game in the franchise. What? I can personally give Wild Arms 2 a bit of leeway because it is on the original PS but when the series migrated to the PS2 I expected more than what I eventually got. From that point on Wild Arms couldn't really fight against the flood of generally superior products from the likes of Squaresoft and every other developer who was now banking on the role-playing genre. Being a fan I did play most of the following games. Some were decent (Wild Arms 4) while some were downright painful (Wild Arms 5) but anyone with a brain could see that the franchise's best days were behind it and it was obviously circling the drain of discontinuation.

However, even as a fan I have to admit I'm glad that Sony pulled the plug when they did. By the time the last game came out (Wild Arms Crossfire) the viability of the console RPG was at its lowest point in years... and when you look at what replaced it (my God, don't get me started on today's role-playing games!) it was definitely for the best. Regardless, at least we got this underrated gem and the original out of the whole deal.

(Author's Note: I'm sure everyone reading the above knows I love Wild Arms 2 - hell, my user name on Listal is the name of the game's main character - but you know what I hate about Wild Arms 2? Marivel. The game's final, hidden playable character has to be the most annoying thing about it. Oh, I won't deny that she's useful... but I can't stand her holier than thou attitude just because she's the last Crimson Noble. I'm sure I'd be sad if most of the people I knew and loved died during the "Blaze of Disaster" but I'm not one-hundred percent sure if that gives her a license to act like a dick during almost every scene she's in.)
People who added this item 617 Average listal rating (423 ratings) 8.4 IMDB Rating 0

Released: 2000 (Diablo II) 2001 (LoD Expansion)

I'm sure I have some explaining to do with this pick and the picture. I know that Lord of Destruction is an expansion and not a standalone game... but I've never played vanilla Diablo II before and considering what I've been told I don't think I want to. Most people believe that the expansion made the underlying, original game a lot better (kind of like Diablo III) so that is why it gets the nod. As for the picture, I'm not going to cover the original Diablo despite the fact that it is included in the version/picture of the Battle Chest I have above. Ironically, the most recent release of the Diablo Battle Chest doesn't even include the original Diablo but buying the Battle Chest in today's world isn't a good idea anyway :P

Anyway, with that aside I should probably drop another surprising admission and admit that Diablo II is the only game I've ever played online. In a certain manner of speaking that's not too big of a shock (there's going to be a pretty big gap coming up in the list) but for some reason I've never been drawn to online play. I don't want to sound antisocial but I'm more of a solitary gamer and prefer single player experiences which in a hobby where online is becoming ever more important makes thing a little more complicated. However, I think Diablo II probably had the right mix of accessibility as far as communicating with other players. Yeah, it was kind of limited but in a way I think that was a blessing :)

Still, the sad thing about Diablo II is just how unkempt the game is these days. When trying to go back and replay it I found the game has a ton of compatibility issues with anything that isn't Windows XP and it was so bad that I just decided to get my old, single core machine out of my basement and use it to play the game. Look Blizzard, I know the game is old and you now have Diablo III and Hearthstone to worry about... but don't you think that Diablo II deserves more than this? I sure think so even though I no longer have the patience to grind for the best equipment. Man, do ever miss the fact that I didn't think about that insane investment of time back when I was younger....

(Author's Note: Since I touched on the subject of operating systems above with Diablo II's compatibility issues I'm going to take this small aside to say that I absolutely loved Windows XP and that it was the best OS Microsoft created. I'd rather use it than freaking Windows 8... but unlike Diablo II [a game] you kind of have to let XP go since it is no longer supported.)
Ashley Winchester's rating:
People who added this item 796 Average listal rating (495 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 0
Metroid Prime - GameCube

Released: 2002 (didn't play it until late 2012 however...)

As you can see by my note above we've kind of skipped about a decade's worth of time. The games above I generally played and acquired around the time they came out... here that's not the case. There are several reasons for this, but the three big ones are the fact my game collection was stolen by some roommates in 2003 (so save for a few particular games above the pictures are of copies I bought later to replace them), I didn't have the money for new games being a college student (I just replayed old games at that point) and I didn't replace the games that were stolen right away once I got out of school as I kind of shifted towards buying video game music soundtracks at that point.

However, in 2008 an independent game store opened in the neighboring town which made reacquiring a lot of the games above a lot easier. I know there is always eBay and that is useful but I kind of hate using it for everything. With that kind of avenue open to find new games it was easier than ever to try and find those games I missed out on. Given that there was no Metroid title for the Nintendo 64 I was curious about the franchise's reemergence on the Gamecube despite the fact I wasn't terribly sold on how it would work as a FPS or FPA.

But in all seriousness, it was a crime that I waited so long to play this. I kind of covered what I thought of Metroid Prime up in the Super Metroid section... but it bears to be repeated that this game is phenomenal. While it did not seem like it at the time, Nintendo was probably in the right in leaving the series on the back burner during the Nintendo 64 days because like them I can't quite see how Metroid would have adapted to the technology at that time. I know that might piss off Prime's detractors but as I said before the switch in perspective does nothing to dull the fine point with which Prime does battle in my opinion.

(Author's Note: Some may be wondering how I feel about the other games in the Prime saga. I like how Echoes plays the same but is very different with its structure and Corruption does some interesting things in an attempt to flesh out its resources but nether game really comes close the original in my book. As for Prime: Hunters you're better off not asking me about it. As for wanting a new Prime game? I'm not really interested as the sub-series has concluded and has served its purpose.)
Ashley Winchester's rating:
People who added this item 18 Average listal rating (7 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 0
Cave Story 3D - Nintendo 3DS

Released: 2011

We're somewhat back as far as playing the games around or near their original release. However, I kind of have to mention a few things with this pick and the next. First of all I do have the slip case for Cave Story 3D... but I didn't include it in the photo above because when I did try to photograph it the light didn't hit it right because of the 3D, Sportsflick cover. Second, I can't quite say that this and the following game are in the same league as the first twenty-eight games above. I've had nearly a decade and a half to reflect on those games (save for Metroid Prime) so I'm pretty damn confident they are my favorites. I obviously haven't had that much time to reflect on these two games.

Anyway, I probably don't have to point out that Cave Story is the only game on this list that started out as a indie title. I'm not stating that in an effort to make it sound more important... but I do feel it is important because it was the first indie-based game I played... and I loved how Cave Story made old, tired-and-true game mechanics feel new again. The most common comparison tends to be Cave's story similarity to the 2D Metroid games, the main difference being that Cave Story is a bit more linear. To a certain degree I think that's fair description but it's not completely comprehensive. One of the things that contradicts it is Cave Story is a little more "story" driven (he he) than some might expect.

But before I move on to the next game, I have to address that some people feel that 3DS version of the game ruined the underlying game. That is an interesting opinion to be sure but I haven't played the PC original or the WiiWare version so I can't really say yea/nea to that. I believe 3DS version skimps on some things and has some pointless extras but I can't say I dislike it otherwise it wouldn't be on this list :)

(Author's Note: As much as I like Cave Story 3D I've got to denounce the "3D" aspect of it's title. The effects the 3DS's screens add to this game are so far away from being impressive. There is next to no reason to ever play this game with the 3D option enabled. Additionally, the only games I've seen and played that actually make real use of that feature are Nintendo produced games which shouldn't surprise anyone even though it is a little sad.)

Released: 2013

You know, it's kind of befitting (in an odd sort of way) that Mirror of Fate falls at the end of the this list because it may be the most undeserving entry on here.

Let me explain...

I can't remember if I read any of the reviews on the major gaming sights prior to buying this game (if I did I'm glad I don't remember) but I did just complete the first Lords of Shadow before buying it. (Again late to the party!) I was interested in MoF for a variety of reasons, but the main one was that while LoS was good it was horribly generic. Some will absolutely hate what I'm going to say next but all they did was clone God of War and throw a Belmont in it. Anyway, I played through this one (my God are the first two hours bland!) and, for some reason, I thought it blended the original, Metroidvania and Lords of Shadow styles of Castlevania together rather well. But apparently I was alone in feeling that way.

I can't say that Mirror of Fate was trashed by reviewers but the low scores kind of surprised me. Then I went to various message boards where everyone was complaining that it wasn't a full-on Castleroid. When these two things combined I couldn't help but feel the game was downtrodden for all the wrong reasons. But then that got me thinking, do I only like this game because of that? Is this a case of appointing the game as a favorite because I feel pity for the lack of success it has received? Needless to say I need some time and to replay the game before I really decide where Mirror of fate really stands with me. It may not stay on the list but I think the game still deserves more attention than it ultimately got.

(Author's Note: If we're going to talk about Castlevania: Mirror of Fate we're going to talk about the [expletive] fact that it doesn't come [expletive] manual. I am so sick and tired of this war on manuals and don't give me that sorry line about companies not printing them because of they care about the [expletive] environment. They don't. They care about saving a few pennies and what gamer on earth would boycott a gaming company over their impact on the planet? Damn it, I remember when manuals actually meant something and were part of the overall package!)

A list of video games that are near and dear to me for one reason or another. It's true that some of them are pretty obvious (there are some fan favorites in here) but then there are a few that may catch some off guard :)

Additionally, the fact the list doesn't extend beyond 2002 much (and that there is a rather big gap in there) isn't much of a surprise. With each passing year I buy fewer and fewer new video games and have pretty much become (despite how much I hate the label) a retro gamer.

Dates refer to the US release of the given games.

Note: The list indicates that it was created in September 2012. This is true but it was set as a private list until the end of 2014 because it was unfinished. Yes, it took me over two years to get around to completing this list. Don't think that all the time was spent on this one sole list, it just fell by the wayside until I got the urge to complete it :P

Note: I know there is no Final Fantasy on the list... but I can't add Final Fantasy VI (my top FF based pick) to the list right now as I need to replay it. I haven't played the game in over a decade. Additionally, I know that no fighting games are on the list. I may add one at a later date, but if I do that game will probably be Soul Blade. This is another case where I kind of need to replay the game to solidify my decision.

Note: I'm aware there are a lot of PS1 games on here... but come on! The library for that console was freaking godly!

Last Updated: 04/15/15

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