Saturday, 27 August 2011

Those are a few my favourite things...

Much assorted finery...reads like a who's who of 90's gaming
I've been playing video games for many years now (since about 1986 in fact) and consequently, having played literally hundreds of fine titles, I tend to shy away from trying to decide which are my 10 absolute favourites. Never the less, it is something that I've been mulling over for a while now and it's probably time I had a go at it. By the by, this is not my take on the 10 greatest games ever...I'm not that brave.

One thing that really strikes me when I look at this list, is that for all I bang on about loving obscure Japanese games, pretty much every title below is a mainstream AAA effort. Which I guess goes to show that when it comes down to it, big studio know how really does rule the roost.

Anyways, here goes...
  1. Street Fighter II Turbo
    Without a shadow of a doubt my favourite game of all time, and one which I've spent a disgraceful amount of my life playing. Graphically amazing, and surely the most balanced and playable game from all of time, SFII Turbo is still the greatest fighting game to grace any system, and will probably always remain so. Glorious SNES home conversion is just edged out by the arcade perfect PSX version (from Capcom Generations 5) in the console world. As close to gaming Nirvana as I've ever perfection from Capcom.
  2. Terranigma
    My blog entry for this game probably conveys best how I feel about it, but to my eyes this is by far the greatest RPG on the SNES, and therefore the greatest greatest RPG ever. Majestic in just about every way, and vastly superior even to many games from subsequent generations, it pushed the SNES to it's limits and rewarded players with an epic and harrowing tale, the likes of which is all too rarely seen. Lack of US release means it remains an underground classic and is ruinously expensive.
  3.  Super Mario 64
    In the world of video games, the word 'revolutionary' is often incorrectly banded about, however in this case it certainly couldn't be more apt. As well as selling bucket loads of N64 consoles, Mario 64 totally redefined the way we looked at gaming and dragged every developer into a glorious new age. This game kicked started gaming in the third dimension and brought it to the masses, and amazingly to this day, has still to be bettered (even by Nintendo themselves). Quite probably the greatest game of all time.
  4. Super Mario World
    One of two games at the centre of an age old Nintendo debate: Mario World or Mario 3? For me there is only ever going to be one winner here...the faultless Super Mario World, the greatest 2D platformer of all time. Launched alongside the Super Nintendo, Mario World showcased Shigeru Miyamoto at his insurmountable best, and is probably still to this day, the most playable game I've ever experienced.
  5. Final Fantasy VII
    An absolute benchmark in the RPG genre, the importance of this game simply cannot be understated. When Square finally deemed the world ready to experience it's flagship series, it was for many in the west, a first glimpse of just how special a mere role playing game could be. Released during what were without doubt, Square's golden years, it boasted unparalleled CG sequences, unforgettable characters, and a story that made grown men cry. Although it is far from perfect and has developed an unhealthy fan boy base, you simply can't ignore this behemoth and for me it remains far and away the most memorable title on the Playstation.
  6. Final Fantasy VI
    The undisputed (in my eyes) king of the Final Fantasy series. Final Fantasy VI completely rewrote the RPG rule book when it came along back in 1994, and will live forever in my memory for being pretty much perfect in every way. A ridiculously in-depth story, backed up by the most memorable cast ever seen in a video game was coupled with jaw dropping visuals and a soundtrack that embarrassed some Hollywood movies. All this made Square's masterpiece the jewel in the Super Nintendo's crown. Criminally, it was never released in Europe until it's little brother became popular, but Final Fantasy VI is now beginning to gleam the worldwide recognition it so richly deserves. 
  7. Tekken II
    The King of the Iron Fist for me, is also the King of 3D fighting games. Tekken II simply blew me away, with it's beautiful high res graphics, super tight controls and a moves bible longer than your arm. It could be picked up in an afternoon but would take a lifetime to me, this was another title that I spent a disproportionate part of my life hammering away at. It also happened to boast one of the most characterful rosters of any fighting game and to this day, it is still the only fighting game that can give Street Fighter II Turbo a run for it's money.
  8. Shenmue
    Another title that I've previously waffled on about, Shenmue represents everything that is magnificent about gaming in my book. It's massively intricate, stupidly detailed and unfathomably gorgeous in every way. It truly is a rare gem thanks to it's unrestrained beauty, and so, makes me feel a lil bit sad, because in today's cut throat world of throw away gaming...there's little chance we'll ever see it's series finale. Still, let's rejoice at the fact that it even exists in the first place. There's no disguising it's obvious flaws, but they can't come close to spoiling what is a true work of art.
  9. Goldeneye 007
    Perhaps a left field choice given my quite vocal disdain for the FPS genre and the fact that it isn't Japanese. But with Goldeneye, Rare somehow managed to capture the very essence of what makes gaming fantastic and sprinkle it over an entire N64 cartridge. Perhaps the fact that it took me completely by surprise has helped into this list as did the fact that Goldeneye is one of the finest multi player games of all time. Technically awe inspiring, it proved that FPS games could work on a home console, and so to any console FPS zealot who's reading this, you have Goldeneye to thank for the fact that FPS games are the force they are today.
  10. Championship Manager 97/98
    Another British entry (gasp!), and it's quite hard to sum up how I feel about this is so addicting that it should probably have been banned. The chance to take the reins at your boyhood club, and steer them to world domination is one that's too good to refuse. In terms of hours ploughed into a game, this comes second only to SFII Turbo. My favourite thing about "Champ Man" though was the chance to get Robbie Fowler a (much deserved) Premier League winners medal.
So there we have it. Looking back over this list I have to admit to being fairly pleased with my selections, all are without doubt totally brilliant in some way. I'm also quite proud of how varied the list is, and that it's not totally dominated by the SNES (much to my surprise). 

Honourable mentions go out to: Super Mario Kart (SNES), Super Metroid (SNES), Earthbound (SNES), Secret of Mana (SNES) and Suikoden II (PSX). Any of these five could easily have made it onto the list and on another day...they probably will.

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