Matt’s All Time Favorite Video Games: #15-#11
As you may have noticed, I happen to be a big time gamer (as with the rest of us here on Metal State). I started out on an Atari 2600 back in the beginnings of the 1980s and haven’t looked back since. I can not think of a time in my life when I haven’t been completely in love with my digital darlings. Not to brag, but I will, I have played and finished hundreds of games, and not like 100 something games. Roughly counting, I’d say that number is up around the 500 mark. Yet somehow in my ~30 solid years of gaming I have not sat down and tried to make list of the best games I have ever played. So given we are slightly obsessed with lists around these parts, I figured it’s time to do so (my cohorts will be joining in with their lists as well in the coming days). Every single game on this list I consider a must play and highly suggest you check all of them out.
For my own set rules I made the cut-off anything released before 2013 as I still need to let the new releases sink in a bit more and some games get an entry as a series and some games in the series get their own number. If a specific game in a series affected me more than the rest, that game gets top billing and a series gets the number if I feel that the whole series works together to make a cognitive whole. I hope you all enjoy this little list and find some games to either revisit or discover for the first time. And as always, I’d love to hear your favorite games. Even though I have played a lot of games, chances are I may have overlooked a hidden gem and point in its direction is always welcome. Peace Love and Metal!!!!!!
#15: Alan Wake
If you happen to be a bookworm with a penchant for horror and thriller novels (especially Stephan King) and also happen to be a fan of video games and heavy metal, well, you will be happy to know that there has been a game crafted just for you. From the mind of Sam Lake (Max Payne scribe and face) you fill the shoes of super famous thriller author Alan Wake and go with him on a what is supposed to be a relaxing vacation to help cure his case of writers block. Of course things go wrong and Alan’s wife gets kidnapped by someone or something and you need to find her.
What really makes Alan Wake stick in my head as a game that I will never forget and have no problem revisiting is just how strong the writing is. Which is only natural, since Alan is a writer. As he narrates scenes there is that King flair to his words and when there is character interaction, there is a delightful natural feel to the dialogue. It makes the supernatural world that you must explore that much more engaging. Then there is the narrative, which on the surface seem just like your standard damsel in distress troupe, but ends up going far deeper exploring the human condition and an ending that will leave you thinking. Toss in some creepy atmosphere, fun and challenging gameplay that puts a nice twist on the Shooty McShooty standard of shooting stuff, an old and senile heavy metal band, and a lengthy quest that is nicely broken down into chapters, you have a recipe for one of the best hidden gems of all time.
#14: StarCraft II
Scout, push, give, push, give, tech, push again, give some more, and keep on teching and scouting and expanding until you find a hole in your opponents defenses that you can exploit and use to mop the floor with. The multiplayer in StarCraft II is possibly one of the most nuanced and balanced competitive games you will ever find and once you get a grasp on how to play this RTS the addiction to ranking up to the top of your ladder becomes an obsession. Well it was for me anyway.
The deep yet streamlined gameplay of StarCraft II sucked me in to the point where I had to uninstall it and force myself to play other games as to not watch my gaming backlog grow bigger and dustier as I ignore tons of other great games in need of attention. It takes a lot for me have to do that. It even got to the point where I was playing so much StarCraft II that I was having dreams in which I was dominating the competition with crazy strategies and actually ended up using and winning with some of those strategies outside of my slumber.
Really, there isn’t much more to say other than this is easily one of the best and most addicting RTS games you will find and years after its release there are still tons of people playing, so finding a match is never a problem. Great game, must use with caution.
#13: Final Fantasy IX
After a pair of Final Fantasy games that skyrocketed the Final Fantasy series into being the most famous RPG series of all time, I have to say, I was a tad bit tired of the sci-fi aesthetics the game was putting its numbered entries in. VII and VIII were both great, don’t get me wrong, but for me, Final Fantasy is at its best when they include those traditional high fantasy elements into the world that really make me get immersed into the games. IX had the series return to its ‘fantasy’ roots with airships, dragons, and ‘typical’ fantasy settings, but now it was all I wanted with those insanely beautiful Playstation One graphics with its stunning pre-rendered backdrops and detailed polygon characters.
Everything about the game spoke to me as a lover of Japanese RPGs and per tradition, featured yet another amazing story to be entered into the Final Fantasy cannon. The characters were lovable and fun, unlike say, Squall from FFVIII who I spent the entire game wanting to kick in his teen-angst-emokid balls or Sephiroth from FFVII who has the worst case of mommy issues ever. Characters like the mage Vivi, the hilarious ‘white knight’ Steiner, and the, ummm, thing that eats everything Quina were a breath of fresh air and added a nice, upbeat feeling to the whole game, something that the series hasn’t seemed to find again since in the main numbered series. I went back and played through FFIX for a 7th time not to long ago, and it totally holds up as well as it did ten years ago. A must play game for any fantasy game fan or fans of simply great games.
#12: The Secret of Monkey Island
I considered just popping the entire series in at #12, but when it comes down to it, the first entry in the Monkey Island series really pulls the most weight with me. I think I could attest all of my love to point and click adventure games to this game (with a special shout out to Maniac Mansion). When I was a budding pre-teen solving various puzzles was only really influenced by the fact that I wanted to see what the next gag would be. And really, what kid couldn’t relate to Guybrush Threepwood and his desire to become a pirate. I learned a lot about the seafaring ways with Guybrush, like the real way to sword fight and the proper uses of Grog.
Going back and replaying the game as an adult has given me a whole new appreciation for the hilarious writing in the game as well as all of the clever and funny puzzles (I can never look at a rubber chicken the same why after playing Monkey Island). There is just so much to love in the game that transcends simple nostalgia, and if you haven’t happened to learned the proper way of sword fighting with insults, you really need to take the dive on this one.
Also, the newer ‘remake’ of Monkey Island was close to claiming this spot as it is basically the same exact original game with a wonderful hand drawn graphical overhaul and would be the one I suggest purchasing. But the nostalgia in me will always have a soft spot for those pixely VGA graphics of the original (which actually can be played in at the touch of a button in the remake version).
#11: Contra (Series)
Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start. If you know that code like the back of your hand, you have also spend countless hours immersed in one of the most frustrating yet impossible to put down game series ever. However, if you want to pass your rights a ‘true hardcore twitch gamer’ you need to finish the game from front to back without inputting the code. Good luck on that. In the days when I only had but a few games for my NES and a summertime filled with no responsibility other than to beat the games I already owned, Contra (aka Probotectors in Europe) led to the demise and eventual clug fix of duct taping them back together so I could keep on pushing for that initiation right of beating a Contra game sans code.
But for as frustrating as the games are, they are just flat-out fun to play. Perfect controls enhance the perfect level design and the non-stop adrenaline rush of always moving forward and making split second reactions to what ever crazy shit the game is throwing at you at the moment engages one so deep that you eventually enter a state of gaming nirvana. Each of the 4 main entries in the series are just so good, there is no wrong choice in which one you want to take you hardcore gamer initiation rights with. And for even more fun, have a go at the games with a friend and fight over who gets the spread gun first and smack each other when the dead weight keeps stealing your lives.
And that soundtrack! I actually used the microphone from my Fisher Price tape recorder to make my own soundtrack when I was a kid. Gunshots, explosions, and all. And would listen to the sweet game music in my non gaming time. Add another bullet point to things that put me on the path of heavy metal 😉
Posted on July 15, 2013, in Matt's Top 25 Video Games and tagged Alan Wake, Best of, Contra, Final Fantasy IX, StarCraft II, The Secret of Monkey Island, Top 25, Video Games. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.