Top 50 Games of All Time (50-41)

Welcome to my Top 50 Games of All time, a piece I have been wanting to write ever since I started this blog back in 2012. Games have meant a lot to me; they have shaped my outlook on life and have inspired me with their drive for creativity and innovation. I hope that you enjoy reading through this list and that I turn you on to some great games in the process.

Please understand that this list is personal and represents my favourite videogames at this moment in time; it is not a definitive list by any means but a fun way to look back on fond gaming memories. I have limited myself to one game per franchise unless the game in question represents an evolution for the series and is different enough to warrant an entry... for instance I would not include multiple versions of Street Fighter II but may include a 2D Mario game alongside a 3D one as the mechanics and gameplay of the games are vastly different.

Let me know some of your favourite games or if you have any recommendations based off of my Top 50 then please feel free to share them too. Happy gaming...

Nintendo EAD, 2003

Growing up I always wanted to like Mario Kart 64 but in all honesty it just left me cold... it didn't suck me in the way other N64 games did. Roll on Double Dash!! on the ill-fated GameCube; Mario and co are now rendered in glorious 3D, with some fantastic graphics throughout that make each lap round the faultless track selection shine.

Double Dash!! is an extremely solid racer full of memorable music, an interesting and large cast of characters and a unique double team mechanic that allows you to hold up to two items at once. The game is very easy to play thanks to some of the best controls in the series which makes it rather fun in multiplayer... who would have thought! This GameCube gem comes highly recommended and marks a high point for the series.

Nintendo DS
HAL Laboratory, 2005

If I remember correctly, Power Paintbrush (or Canvas Curse in the US) was originally meant to be a launch title for the Nintendo DS but it wasn't actually released until 8 months later. I remember going to my local game shop every week asking about the game and each time the launch date was pushed back. The bearded bloke behind the desk would ask 'why do you want to play that? It's a kid's game isn't it?' WRONG! Kirby: Power Paintbrush is an incredibly inventive platformer that utilizes the DS's unique hardware perfectly, it's a game all should have played back in 2005.

In the game you guide Kirby with the stylus, prodding him to make him move forwards and drawing paths of rainbow paint to help him navigate each level. It is an incredibly simple formula and before you know it you will be zipping around each of the levels at break neck speeds, collecting all the special hidden items and feeling like a king!

The game has since received a sequel in the form of Kirby and the Rainbow Curse for Wii U but this is where it all started; an essential Kirby game and an essential DS game.

48 - Braid
PC (also: XBLA, PS3 etc)
Number None Inc. / Hothead Games, 2008

Braid still feels unique, after all these years. The game was one of a handful of independently developed platforming games that would usher in the 'indie scene', yet unlike games such as Limbo and Super Meat Boy, Braid has very few clones. Even today the game's time based mechanics and emotional weight are uncommon.

Each level in Braid represents a new, unique and distinctive manipulation of time, for example in one level time plays forward as you move right and backwards as you move left. This level feels like you're scratching a record back and forth and you must use this manipulation of time to your advantage to traverse the ever changing scene.

What attracts me most to Braid is its emotional and enigmatic weight which is underpinned by a fantastic sweeping soundtrack that transforms as you alter time. The game is a joy to play and is also incredibly poignant and melancholic. It represents a rare successful attempt at delivering raw emotion to the player, this is backed up by game mechanics that still manage to astound. Looking forward to The Witness, not long now!

PC (also: XBONE, PS4 etc)
Kojima Productions, 2014

Many feel that this game is merely a demo for MGSV: The Phantom Pain, and I would agree. Ground Zeroes is in many ways an elaborate tutorial, one that aims to let the user become accustomed to MGSV's new gameplay style and controls without heavy consequences for failure. The game is made up of bite sized missions that all take place in the same large military prison complex. Each mission transforming this environment with new enemy layouts and different times of day; these changes add new hazards and ask you to think fast and adapt your strategies accordingly.

The game showcases the often breathtaking graphics of the Fox Engine; at the start of the game you are dropped from a helicopter to the outskirts of the prison, blinding light sweeps left to right from a nearby search tower bouncing off wet rocks convincingly with shadow and light being dynamic and beautiful throughout. The world, although fairly small, is remarkably well designed and realistic; guards change positions, talk to one another and move about the world convincingly,  forcing you to be in the right place at the right time. Yet each mission can be tackled in so many different ways, it is always fun and tense to try out a new strategy or to attempt a purely stealth playthrough.

Although I would agree that Ground Zeroes feels like a demo for The Phantom Pain I still got 30 hours of play from this game and I loved it. The Phantom Pain's scope kind of scares me so I haven't played it yet, but if the game is half as good as this it must be rather special.

Neo Geo MVS/AES (also: PS2, Wii etc)
SNK, 2000

Picking just one Metal Slug game is a difficult task but Metal Slug 3 built on the foundations set by the previous games to come out on top. After Metal Slug 3 the series would kind of lose its way, adding unnecessary features and generally not having the same level of detail or attention spent on the design and gameplay feel.

Metal Slug 3 is a run and gun game that has some of the best animated sprites you are ever likely to lay eyes on, they seriously haven't aged a day and still inspire awe and wonder in those who see them for the first, second or hundredth time.

Metal Slug is just an incredibly fun series, it's like Contra but not as punishing and more open to experimentation and generally more varied. The gameplay feels incredibly nimble and solid, characters move at just the right speed and you never feel out of control. The game is also fantastic in 2 player co-op. It's everything that an arcade run and gun game should be and comes highly recommended, start with this or Metal Slug X.

HAL Laboratory, 2002

Hours upon hours were lost to this brilliant beat-em-up fighting game back in the early 2000's. Beating the hell out of each with Nintendo characters was just so fun and addictive, as was collecting the wealth of trophies on offer that each come with a detailed description and can be scrutinised by the player.

In Super Smash Bros. Melee your goal is simple; pick one of many classic Nintendo characters and knock your opponents out of the arena. The more damage your opponents have taken the better your chances are that your attack will send them sky rocketing. There are no health bars or super meters like other fighting games and so the outcome of a battle is always unpredictable and frantic. 

The gameplay is deceptively simple and as the same control scheme is mapped to all characters it is very easy to pick up. Yet each character has a distinct personality which makes learning how to utilise their move set fun in and of itself. A great fighter that is hectic and fun in equal measures; it's no surprise that this is still doing the rounds at the yearly EVO fighting tournament. The best in the series... that I've played!

Mega Drive (also: Master System, 3DS eShop etc)
Sega Overworks, 1991

Most people pick the sequel over this but for me the first Streets of Rage just feels better; it is faster and feels a lot more nimble. The sequel has better graphics but the characters are so large that it can sometimes become a little crowded, here the screen never feels cluttered. Perhaps it is nostalgia talking but to me this is the best Streets of Rage.

I love the feel of this game, the environments, the artwork, the music, it all adds up to create a fantastic game that is full of atmosphere. The game features 2 player co-op, beating up people and chucking each other across the screen makes the game all the more fun... but multiplayer also holds the chance to obtain a multiple ending, a great addition that adds some replayability to the game.

The game's music is some of the best ever conceived for a videogame, it will stick with you long after the credits with it's phenomenal 16-bit techno vibe. Pick this one up for the 3DS where you can play with additional 3D graphics that not only look great but also allow for more precise and satisfying combat... thanks M2 for another exceptional port!

Neo Geo Pocket Color
SNK, 1999

Card Fighters Clash is a card battling game that tasks you with building up strong and varied decks in order to beat your rivals. The game was inspired by Pokemon and was released in two versions simultaneously: SNK and Capcom. Each version of the game contains unique cards and also favours the respective game company when dealing out new cards. The only way to obtain all cards is to trade with someone who owns the opposite version, facilitating discussion and competition with friends - if you know someone else who owns a Neo Geo Pocket Color that is!

The game takes place across a handful of locations that are connected by a world map, but do not expect a vast world like Pokemon, each location is basically a room with a handful of people to battle against. Each location is themed around a specific SNK or Capcom game and is full of little easter eggs to discover but the real meat of the game is in the battling itself.

Card Fighters Clash uses a turn based system, you bring your selected deck of 50 cards to the fight and 5 are randomly added to your hand at the start of the battle with one more added each turn. The cards can include characters that can attack your opponent as well as additional cards that can have special effects on the battle. You can choose when to add a card into play and when they attack, knowing who, when and how to attack adds a lot of strategy to the game and is a lot of fun to figure out. Before you know it you will have created a well rounded deck full of characters that can support one another, have special abilities or can be used to devastating effect when your health is low.

Card Fighters Clash is a fantastic game for one of the best handheld systems out there. Get a Neo Geo Pocket Color and a copy of this and play under bright artificial light for hours!

Super Nintendo
Compile, 1992

Super Aleste - known as Space Megaforce in the US - is a masterpiece of a shooter; incredibly well paced, varied and intensely addictive, the game is a shining example of the shoot-em-up genre. Your craft can change between 8 different weapons, each of which can be leveled up multiple times. Finding the right weapon for each section of a level is essential, as is collecting all power ups as the game is brutally hard!

Each level has a unique feel and asks you to use your wealth of weapon upgrades in new and inventive ways. Although you will die a lot the rocking soundtrack pushes you on and gives the game a great personality, the graphics also make the game stand out among other SNES shoot-em-ups, they are bright, clear and are full of detail. To my eyes they are some of the best graphics on the SNES.

I haven't played any of the other Aleste games aside from Robo Aleste for the Mega Drive but it wouldn't surprise me if more of them were just as good as this. An excellent shooter that can be had surprisingly cheap.

PC (also: Xbox, 360, PS3 etc)
Valve, 2004

Half Life 2 is often regarded as one of the best games of all time and as such I'm sure some will be surprised at how low it ranks on my list. I played the game for the first time this year so perhaps it would have made a greater impact on me if I had played it when it was initially released in 2004.

What impressed me most about Half Life 2 was the feel of the world and the journey you go on as the ever silent Gordon Freeman. Everything in the world feels connected and although the game is very linear the game rarely fades to black and each environment connects to the next in a natural and organic way. The game's physics engine was revolutionary at the time and it is still fun to play with today. The Gravity Gun allows for inventive combat and makes the game feel fresh and unique.

It's not a perfect game though; I feel the game has aged with its heavy reliance on checkpoints, some rag doll physics, unnatural interactions with other characters and linear level design but the game's world is always fun and varied. Each section of the game tasks you with overcoming and mastering a new gameplay hurdle such as the hour or so long jet ski section or the tense battle that takes place in the claustrophobic prison complex.

I started to play through Episode 1 but it didn't really capture me the way the main game did, should I give it another chance? I'm not pining for Episode 3 or Half Life 3 like others but I do wish that Valve would come out with another story driven game like the often masterful Half Life 2.

50-41   ---   40-31   ---   30-21   ---   20-11   ---   10-1

Posted: 23rd November 2015

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