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Monday, February 28, 2011

My 100 Favorite Video Games of All Time: Part 7 (40-31)

40 - Duck Hunt
When I first played this game I was amazed by the fact that I could shoot a gun at my TV and it would work! I couldn't believe it! It was so much fun too. It still is to this day. I especially enjoy the web-based mod that lets you kill the dog. I hate that freaking dog.

39 - The Legend of Zelda
This adventure classic created a genre. Inspired by his own forest adventures as a child, Miyamoto created a franchise that set the tone for all adventure games to come. The top-down view was not exactly new, but it felt like a new take on an old idea, one that was expanded to a massive extent. The dungeons were intimidating, the bosses seemed so epic, the items and upgrades gave the sense of a real growth in power and the world of Hyrule was, at the time, just so huge. It was filled with hidden passages and secrets and emphasized exploration over a linear hand-held approach. Then, after you've done it all, the second quest comes along to turn up the difficulty, and the fun!

38 - Super Mario Kart
The ultimate racing game that wasn't a simulation. We were used to games like Rad Racer, where we drove cars across roads, dodging traffic all the while, trying to beat the clock. With the onset of the fantasy racer with Mario Kart and, to a lesser extent, F-Zero (which was still a good game but inferior to Mario's foray) gave players a chance to race in a relaxed and fun environment against friends and challenging opponents. Mario Kart succeeded in creating a whimsical and exciting racing experience that is lasting and engaging.

37 - Sonic the Hedgehog
In 1991, Mario was king. Since the release of the NES in 1985, Mario had appeared in over 40 titles in around the world. When Sega announced their foray into the 16-bit era, they were met with some skepticism in the U.S. as they did not share the success here that they did in Japan. Then came Sonic the Hedgehog. I should be able to stop there. The levels were huge, multi-tiered and challenging; the music sounded like music and not like a bunch of beeps, the speed was literally insane, the bosses were fun and there was just so much to do. Sega struck gold in 1991 and the franchise continues to this day, though they haven't been able to recreate the amazing title that was released almost two decades ago.

36 - Simpsons (Arcade)
Like the aforementioned Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade title I mentioned previously on my list, the Simpsons was a major quarter-suck for me. I think back on all of the nameless impoverished villages that could have been fed with the capital I wasted on this game and think: “What was the third boss again? I can't remember.” I love this one a lot; an old school beat-'em-up with four playable characters: Bart, Marge, Homer and Lisa, trying to save Maggie. It was actually a spoof of the Ninja Turtles Game to an extent, also made by Konami, it shared many of its characteristics and, though I'm not sure, I think it shared its game engine. I actually have forgotten most of this game because it's so hard to find and I haven't played it in probably about 15 years, but I think back and remember how much I loved this title. So good. So, so good.

35 - Mike Tyson's Punch Out
Back when sports games usually involved indiscernible humanoid blips shuffling across the screen accompanied by a sound effect similar to the raking of leaves, Mike Tyson's Punch Out gave us a fun boxing title with distinct characters, a good challenge and some truly memorable moments. Nintendo re-released the game at a later date replacing Iron Mike with the much lamer Mr. Dream, but the game was still great. Still, I can't figure out why they gave Mac a pink jogging suit. That just doesn't make sense to me.

34 - Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
This game could very well be the greatest 3D action-shooter ever released. GASPS ABOUND!!! I know, I know. That is is certainly a shocking statement and with competition like Gears of War and Call of Duty out there, it has some competition. However, Uncharted 2 is the most cinematic, well presented, most excellently designed action title I have played in more than ten years, and the characters are the most well-written and naturalistic I have seen in a game. The action set pieces are breathtaking and feel less like a game and more like an interactive movie. Never before have I been as in awe of a game as I was the first time I picked this masterpiece up. Well, there was one other time. We'll touch on that one later...

33 – Columns
I love casual games. Puzzlers and strategy games were all the rage back in the 90s due to the massive success of Tetris and Columns was Sega's foray into this world. What resulted was a fantastic puzzle game that was easy to learn and very fun to master. Any game that forced you to use so much of your brain is good, any game that trains you in reaction, response and reason is even better. Columns is one such game, and boy is it addictive.

32 - Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse
I love Castlevania, I always have, and the third installment introduced us to some new heroes that we can meet and ally with. Each has their own unique abilities, pros and cons. Throw in some terrific boss fights, some wonderfully polished level design and a breathtaking soundtrack and you have the formula for one of the greatest video games of all time. While Dracula's Curse is not my favorite in the series, it's definitely up there, and I will say that this game got its fair share of my attention as a kid.

31 - Life Force
Space ships, dragons, volcanoes, giant sphinxes. How is this not number one? I love Konami's days on the NES. They made some great games then and Life Force was one of their best. This title, which was actually Gradius II, is a stunning space shooter with plenty of challenge and some memorable boss fights. On a side note, the soundtrack, which I love, was developed by the same guy that did the music for Suikoden 1 & 2, and one of my favorite game soundtracks, Contra III: the Alien Wars.

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