The 100 Greatest Fucking Games (part 03)

How many games are there in the world, do you think? My guess is that by now there are well over 100,000 and fast approaching half a million. Huh. That’s a lot of games. The aliens will think we had no responsibilities in our lives but to enjoy ourselves, and how I wish they were right. There are almost certainly other games that deserve to be on this list, but I just haven’t been able for whatever reason to play them yet. Anyway, continuing on with the rest of the best 100 motherfucking games of all time we have:

  1. ICO – When I moved to Osaka, my company roommate had a PS2 and was good enough to let me crack out on this game when I didn’t have a social life or even a console system of my own. I was instantly smitten, because big well-constructed castles make for incredible game settings. The gloomy atmosphere and immersive plunge into its other-worldliness is no easy feat, because we’re all such jaded gamers that it takes something truly brilliant to even move us, and ICO does it wordlessly.
  1. Shadow of the Colossus – Well, yeah – I mean, it’s the same studio as ICO, and quite possibly the same world. But instead of making ICO 2, Fumito Ueda and his gang of nethertects take us to the forbidden zone of the gods where each boss is the stage itself. The concept of “climbable bosses” was never done to this degree before, plus the creeping feeling of wrongness as you slay them is a weird feeling, dirtier than anything resulting from even my trespasses against life in GTA. An important game that should be part of the curriculum in all public schools.
  1. Castlevania II (There, take that, Flashback!) – The first game that I purchased after receiving the NES in the Christmas of my eighth year on earth. I don’t know what I was expecting, since I never even got to the third stage of the first Castlevania, but it didn’t matter because this game was almost completely different except for the character and his whip. You started off in a town, and there were regular townsfolk and merchants in addition to Dracula’s legion of horrors from beyond. With a backtrackable map and puzzlemaze dungeons, this game stands alone, at least in my mind, as the most RPG-like of all Castlevanias. As a side note, in 2001 I mapped out the whole game in a notebook to prep for a speed run and get the best ending.
  1. Out of this World – Known by several other titles, but this is what the box at Videoland said it was called. Very interesting animation for character sprites at the time, giving it a cinematic feel that was quite rare. Listened to a lot of R.E.M.’s Out of Time album while playing this game, and never actually beat the damn thing until I got it for the iPhone like 20 years later. “My tuba!”
  1. Mega Man 2 – Quite possibly the perfect Mega Man game. Also, the karaoke of Mega Man games because every tune is memorable and you can’t help but sing along. They are to this day still making games trying to imitate Mega Man 2 for all its simply awesomeness, but they’ll never fucking do it, and they don’t really need to. How much Mega Man do you actually need in your life?
  1. Metal Gear Solid – Because the two NES Metal Gears were rad in concept but impossible to play, MGS was a blessing from on high, because you could continue from a reasonable spot whenever you died, which was a lot. It’s always been a kind of a dream of mine to be super awesome at a game like this and be able to beat it without killing anyone or going undetected, but it will probably never happen.
  1. Metal Gear Solid 3 – The Snake Eater opening theme was so great because it was so over the top, but only hinted at being a joke, reminding you that you are allowed to take the Metal Gear series only as seriously as you’d like. While fighting the Cold War with boots on the ground is some serious shit, eating birds and repairing broken bones in the jungle is obviously very silly. I didn’t like MGS 2 because there was a boss who rollerbladed around on a rooftop throwing bombs, and I thought that was bullshit, so I guess we all have our own tolerance levels for nonsense.
  1. Brave Fencer Musashi – This Squaresoft game didn’t get a whole lot of love, but I thought it was fucking great and I’ll be honest and say the reason I played it was for the action figures. Yes, you could buy action figures in the game of characters and enemies in the game. They all had packaging and you could choose whether to take them out or not – but if you did, there was no putting them back in. High-level shit!
  1. Soul Edge – aka Soul Blade, this was the first title of the Soul Calibur series, and frankly, I think this was the best one. At least as far as first installments for long-running fighting franchises go, this is the best. Its key point was that every fighter had their own weapon which they were masters of, and they were all after the cursed Soul Edge. When I had it for Playstation, I would turn it on just to watch the intro movie and try to record the song with a handheld tape recorder. Then I’d go and try to collect every weapon for every character. Fucking great fighting game, and not so fucking complicated like today’s.
  1. Killer Instinct – this was a fighting game that tried to teach you long-form combo memorization, and though it was really hard and awkward at times, pulling them off would make you feel like a god. Impossible in the arcade, the SNES port made this much more possible, and I’d print out endless volumes of moves and combos that I’d find on our primitive internet, just in time for all the KI cabinets to disappear from the arcades.
  1. Mortal Kombat Trilogy – See what I did there? I’m not going to waste three whole spaces just for the MK series, which however shaping and pivotal to my performance as a player of fighting games, is almost lucky to snag one spot. What separated this from the others were the Itchy and Scratchy-esque finishing moves, which had the chance to become a finishing movie ending with your opponent’s disfigured corpse if you were slick about it. I realize now that that’s not really important, but it was fun then and makes me a little nostalgic.
  1. Super Mario 64 – We were all blown away by the idea of a 3D Mario game, and I guess it shows, since 99% of adventure games made today are in 3D. It was a radical re-imagining at the time, though, and I was in love with the open environments and all the promise that accompanied them.
  1. Street Fighter Alpha 3 – If I had to choose a Street Fighter game to put up here, or rather, take to a deserted island to play until rescued, it would be this one, for the Saturn, no less. Weird choice, probably, but this is the Street Fighter game that plays most comfortably for me. Maybe the only one where I could sense the value of having three different strengths to the punches and kicks.
  1. King’s Quest – The first digital game I ever owned. We had it for the PC Jr., which in 1986 was some pretty hot shit, as it was a computer that could display 16 separate colors – and that’s eightfold of what was considered standard. An adventure game that made you type what you wanted to do, this game got me familiar with the PC keyboard and taught me to spell. An unforgiving game that took months and months to beat if you played it through trial and error alone. A game that made me, well, a game player.
  1. King’s Quest III – Somehow I skipped II, and even though I liked II when I played it, the puzzles were so fucking obtuse it almost makes me sick with rage now. King’s Quest III, while hard as hell was a very different game with a character other than Graham, so I didn’t even make the connection to the first two games until much, much, much later. I honestly had no idea how to get through this game for the first probably six months that I had it. Instead, I became fascinated with its spell book and components, and began creating my own magic potions out of various household and bodily fluids. One of them made the grass at the school grow really tall and spiky.
  1. Gold Rush! – This was a Sierra game where you have to get from Brooklyn to California to find your brother and a shitload of gold! Great historical setting with three different ways to get there, each more treacherous than the other. Completely unforgiving about time, items, and even luck, but fun stuff nonetheless.
  1. Donkey Kong Country – I’ve talked about what a drastic improvement I thought the 16-bit SNES was over the NES, but somehow Nintendo upped the game again by adding something like 64 trillion megabytes of memory to their most graphically ambitious game yet: Donkey Kong Country. And while Nintendo Power magazine never gave me a copy of Dragon Warrior, they did send me a promotional VHS tape that previewed the game and its making, which my friends and I watched obsessively until it came out.
  1. Metal Slug Collection – Ha! Bitched in another anthology. Metal Slug games are the greatest side-scrolling arcade games for their smooth animation and weapons and blood and rush and destruction. The first stage can be beat on a single credit, so it’s always been a nice way to spend a quarter in the arcade.
  1. Super Castlevania IV – Still the best linear action arcade-style Castlevania. Play this one. A perfect Sunday morning for me used to involve watching Salute Your Shorts on Nickelodeon, playing this game, and having spaghetti for lunch; a ritual surely powerful enough to counter the resurrection of Count Dracula himself.
  1. Starfox 64 – This is kind of a proxy for the original Starfox, since 64 is almost a remake of an ugly game with great ambition. Spaceship and dogfight combat across land, sea, fire, and the great Cornelian nebulae. Easy to play, tough to master, with multiple paths you can take to victory and plenty of secrets to keep you coming back.
  1. Berserk (Dreamcast) – This DC game is based on a Japanese comic that I had never heard of, but instantly loved once I played this game. You play as Guts, a big bad dude with a sword like Cloud Strife’s, slashing everything to hell and occasionally blowing people away with an arm cannon. Bloodfest 2000; aka a wonderful afternoon.
  1. Pokemon (first generation) – As a freshman in college, I was enamoured with everything related to Japanese culture, and one of the most easily accessible animes was Pocket Monsters, because episodes played every day on the WB. It was only a matter of time until I picked up the game itself and decided to go on that great quest to catch ’em all. Very easy to obsess on, and I guess to some degree I still do. Remember that TPP spectacle? Jesus, has it only been two weeks or already been two weeks?
  1. Zelda: Link to the Past – Holy fucklunch, I nearly forgot to add this one to the slew of great Zelda games previously mentioned. Now, Zelda II was a pile of shit. Come on, we’re all older now and we know that that one was a travesty, but hey, even Nintendo makes a shitty Zelda game (a modern take on the proverb “Even the monkey falls from the tree”). But because the SNES more or less made manifest the dreams of every NES player, it was only natural that the Zelda series would pick itself up and find itself at the forefront of fantastic adventure gaming in its brand new 16-bit mantle. I remember sending away for “Zelda 3” as it was listed in some shady looking games dealer in the pages of Gamepro, only to receive the game in the mail something like the weekend after it was announced! Perhaps the greatest SNES game out there, I would play it every summer listening to the audiobook of Stephen King’s The Library Policeman. Three-time member of the 000 club, I’m proud to say.
  1. World of Warcraft – I only played free trials of this game, but it was a lot of fun. I occasionally fantasized about the life I’d have if I forsook all human relations and played this game to the extent real online players tended to, but somehow managed to stay my hand when it came time to actually pay to continue. Still, each time was something like a week spent romping about, meeting interesting people, collecting treasure, making shit, and listening to long playlists of albums that I hadn’t heard in years (like the Anticon Giga-Single). RPGs, I learned through WoW, are really great for getting back into to music if you’ve been away for awhile.
  1. Shivers – What the fuck is Shivers, you ask? Well, it’s a first-person puzzle adventure game made by Sierra that puts you in a weird museum where you’re locked in for the night and you end up finding what happened to the guy who built it and solving all kinds of interesting and sometimes old-school puzzles. And you could die. The atmosphere was pretty goddamn spooky in my memory, and I wish that I could play this one again. Too bad they didn’t make it for DOS – I still have the disc, for god’s sake!
  1. Dark Forces – Around the time I was way into Doom and maybe even Quake, I learned of Dark Forces, which was a Star Wars game that played just like those other shooters. There was something extremely appealing to me about shooting Stormtroopers instead of demons and zombies, and this is the game – nay, the very trigger – that made me watch the movies as a teenager and become a hopelessly obsessed Star Wars nerd. Everything changed after Dark Forces.
  1. Knights of the Old Republic – A Star Wars RPG with great D20 mechanics and character specialization that allowed your character to become strong with the Light or even the Dark Side of the Force. Just great stuff in a completely original Star Wars setting 4,000 years before even Episode I. Bought this one for like $3 on Steam last summer and can’t wait to play it again, but I will wait because I don’t feel like playing it now, so I guess that means I actually can wait. Never mind. I’m not nearly the Star Wars freak that I was in high school or even in my 20s anymore. On a side note, how great would it be if Episode VII turns out to be good?
  1. Vendetta Online – This is a game you can still play, and as far as I know they still have free trial accounts. Your avatar is your ship, and you fly it through space either transporting goods, taking out enemies, or mining for supplies. It sounds boring, but it is actually very relaxing to turn off the lights and just pilot your way through space because the physics and vastness of space are just so spot on. I’d plot flight courses and pretend I was Han Solo smuggling spice with yet another music playlist in the background, drink some booze and believe I was drunk in space. Apparently you can play it on the Oculus Rift now, which has to be fucking insane, and I can’t wait to try it out.
  1. Grim Fandango – The swan song of Lucasarts PC adventure games, and what an incredible, beautiful odyssey Grim Fandango was. Noir mystery in the land of the dead? That’s a fucking great idea, now can it be made into a great game? It was. It was a great game, and the only problem with it is that it crashed all the god damn time on my computer and I was only able to finish it once. Luckily, I still have the discs, so I hope to enjoy this one again sometime soon. If anyone has a good, easy-to-follow way of getting Grim Fandango to run on a Mac, give me it and you will be rewarded in fish or beans or something nice.
  1. Ghouls and Ghosts (Genesis) – Another case where the original was too fucking hard, but its sequel is a little more playable, not to mention stunningly beautiful by compare. I still love this one and weep for the souls who never played it.
  1. Revenge of Shinobi (Genesis) – Hells yeah, that’s right! The Genesis came out before the SNES, didn’t it? My best friend moved back into town in 1990 and brought in tow with him a Genesis, and this was one of the highlights from his collection. EVERYTHING was fucking great about it. The graphics were sweet and the bosses were straight out of Hollywood, the soundtrack was fucking amazing, and I knew a code for infinite shurikens. Hard as hell; probably never beat it. Holy shit, I have this on Virtual Console, don’t I? I’m going to play it when I get home.
  1. Sword of Vermilion – In the early 1990s, this game had what we kids called “awesome graphics.” Unfortunately, we weren’t very good at RPGs, so getting to the actual boss fights where you could see these good graphics was very, very rare for us. The game was hard. You really had to grind your levels up, but it turned out to be worth it, and I remember getting quite far – until I learned that being poisoned can reduce your MAX HP, and I rage quit that shit. You can’t take away my MAX HP, you son of a bitch! That’s mine, you ass-slurping, fuck! Bastard balls! Cunt nugget! Doggy! Ah, shit. Another killer soundtrack that makes me want to be 11 and play this fucking game again right now.

And so here we are at the top ten. Last ten. Whatever. Stay tuned and go fondle yourself pleasurably or something. I know nobody’s reading this. They’d have given me instructions on how to get Grim Fandango working by now if they were.

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