Best Games Ever.

I re-activated my Mobygames account a couple of weeks ago and decided to add a list of my favourite games to my profile page there. It’s hard choosing only a couple of them, but here’s a list and my reasons why I included them, in no particular order. Maybe you’ll discover something new or have some good memories of some of the games.

  • Paradroid 90 (Amiga) – This Andrew Braybrook game takes the absolute top-spot. In case you never heard of it: you control a small “influence device” in a space ship full of robots gone haywire. Your objective is to clear each deck (and ultimately the entire ship) from robots, either by destroying them, or by taking control of them. Your influence device alone has a very weak weapon and not much defensive armor to speak of, so it’s wise to take parasitic control of a more advanced robot model quickly. When you try to do that, a mini-game is shown on screen, where you have to insert energy bolts into a randomly generated circuitry, activating more lights of your own color than your enemy does. A lot of fans of the game probably think this is the best part of it, but I always hated it. Luckily, the ’90 version of the game lets you disable the mini-game. The whole experience of the ambient sound effects (and the great title music, by my favorite game music composer Jason Page), and the graphics with the little detailed animations like the glowing computer screens contributes to the simple but addictive gameplay. However, the game certainly also has that nostalgia bonus for me like a lot of games in this list.
  • Ambermoon (Amiga) – I’ve discovered this game way after its initial release through emulation, but I’ve since bought the original and played it on the real hardware. The overall production value is really high on this RPG. The graphics are very well-crafted (my favorite pixel artist Henk Nieborg worked on it among others) and I like that there’s both a bird’s eye and a first-person plus another strategic battle mode view which all work together. The game is pretty huge (it came on nine floppy disks), and I’ve never actually finished it since I got stuck somewhere. I’m actually not such a big fan of RPGs, but this one had a certain quality about it that made me get deeper into the story. Oh, and the intro is really cool.
  • Battle Squadron (Amiga)Battle Squadron is definitely a game that’s on the list primarily for the nostalgia bonus, since it was one of the first games I ever played. It’s a relatively basic though solid shmup, the greatest stand-out “feature” is that there’s one looping level that connects all other levels you keep returning to after finishing one of the main levels. I remember playing through it by cheating, since I was (and still am) too crappy to actually master it. The metallic 80s graphics are not too bad and the music is very memorable (plus the title track features a “WELCOME TO BATTLE SQUADRON” robotic voice sample, you can never go wrong with that.)
  • Beneath a Steel Sky (MS-DOS) – This is my favourite “serious” adventure game (next to The Dig.) The atmosphere created by the story, the voice overs and the painted backgrounds is really unique. I’ve played through BASS several times already, but somehow it never gets old.
  • Gradius V (PlayStation 2) – One of the best modern generation shmups. What’s different about Gradius V is that it tries to tie all the levels together with cutscenes. The gameplay creates a kind of flow, where all the enemy ships and background elements work together really well. It’s a bit like watching a space opera movie. Despite being a couple of years old already, I still like the 3D graphics, the ship designs and texture work is really well done. And Gradius V is one of the few Japanese games where I actually like the music.
  • Outcast (Windows)Outcast is an action-adventure that has you playing a marine sent to another dimension to rescue ours. While the gameplay has a lot of repetitive elements (running from A to B to get item C,) the world within the game is really beautifully alien at times. The graphics engine is voxel based, creating very organic shapes for the terrain. You can even leave three dimensional footsteps in the snow world. I’ve read a lot of negative reviews about Outcast, but I’ve only got good memories of it. Maybe that would change if I were to play it again nowadays, I don’t know. Anyway, it’s one of the few games that I finished, so that should mean something. A sequel was planned for PS2, but never released unfortunately.
  • Rez (Dreamcast)Rez reminds me a lot of demos with its abstract graphics and techno soundtrack. It’s a simple shooter actually, but it puts you in some sort of hypnotic state, something hardly any other game ever did to me. The game is rather short, but for me at least it has a very high replay value. I’ve bought it for all three systems it came out for, maybe that’s saying something as well. I can never have enough Rez.
  • The Secret of Monkey Island (Amiga) – I don’t think I have to introduce this adventure game to anyone.  It’s on my list because it was the first adventure I ever saw, and I have some fun memories watching my brother playing it back in the days. I have to be honest though, I don’t think the humor aged so well in Monkey Island. But maybe that also has to do with how many times I played the game. After a while, it isn’t that funny anymore. Make sure to play the Amiga version, it has inferior graphics when compared to the DOS original, but the music by Chris Hülsbeck is so much better on Amiga.
  • Shadow of the Colossus (PlayStation 2)ICO and this quasi-sequel are both very special gaming experiences. The world in which they play seems to be alive somehow, yet it’s almost devoid of any living beings but yourself. The developers were able to almost completely get rid of all distracting HUD elements. Together with an interesting cinematic camera it just doesn’t feel like a game anymore, but more like something much bigger. Add to this the epic boss battles with really awesome creature designs and excellent fur effects, it’s one of the must-have PS2 games.
  • UFO: Enemy Unknown (MS-DOS)This has got to be one of the best games ever made. It’s such a unique mix of genres – tactical squad based strategy, role playing game and economic simulation all in one. The game gets really hard towards the end, that’s why I was never able to beat it. But from time to time I like to return to UFO, build new bases, discover new technologies and try to play flawless rounds against the aliens. If you’ve never played it before, do it now! You can obtain a version that works under Windows from Steam.
  • Xenon 2: Megablast (Amiga)Xenon 2 doesn’t have the most innovative gameplay ever, but it certainly has the greatest title track ever. But it’s not only the music, the pixel graphics in typical Bitmap Brothers style are among the best of any 2D shmup … and you can never go wrong with Super Nashwan Power!

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