Thursday, November 29, 2007


90. Virtua Fighter 2
Saturn, 1996, AM2/Sega

The VF games have never been my favourite fighters, but their quality is undeniable. It’s pretty astounding to think that this remains one of the most technically impressive Saturn games, and it was only a few months behind the console itself into shops (compare the first Panzer Dragoon to Saga, for instance). Anyway, VF2 was not the Second Coming that some people would’ve had you believe, but you can’t say no to good ol’ Shun Di.

89. Mega Bomberman
Mega Drive, 1994, Hudson Soft/Sega

Boom, boom, shake-shake the room. Four players? Yesplz. Weird kangaroo things that jump and kick and dance and run? Why not indeed. And I liked the one-player mode and its giant robot banana, even if no-one else did.

88. Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3
Saturn, 1996, Avalanche Software/Midway

I’ve always had a massive soft spot for the MK series, although thinking about it this was actually the most recent one I’ve played (I did pick up Deadly Alliance, but it refused to work on my Gamecube). The fighting might not be that great, but the sheer over-the-top style is thoroughly entertaining, and this stands up as the best this side of MK2 (that I’ve played, anyway) with some of the greatest finishing moves. Love that Scorpion one with the clones that’s all squishy sound effects and no visuals.

(All the years of release, publishers, etc refer only to the European versions. Probably should've pointed that out earlier.)


I'm ditching the screenshots, they're a real hassle to sort out on Blogger. So there.

93. Earthworm Jim
Mega Drive, 1994, Shiny Entertainment/Virgin Interactive

Yet another game I’m really bad at. But who cares. Launch cows! Fight dustbins! Whip duodenums! Ride hamsters! Bungee-jump with bogies! Also, the music for the Psycrow boss levels is one of the MD sound chip’s finest hours. Hoo-ray for JIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIM!

92. Sonic Advance 3
Game Boy Advance, 2004, Dimps/Sega

I loved this bad when it first came out, but sadly it’s not as replayable as other Sonics. This is a shame, because it’s arguably one of the best of the lot, balancing the series’ essential simplicity with a partner system that’s surprisingly complex if you bother to fiddle around with it. (For the record, Cream and Knuckles is my team of choice.) Still, the levels are decent, if unremarkable, there’s a couple of good bosses, the hub concept’s quite fun, and the Special Stage entrance is actually achievable, if too convoluted (I think I got five Emeralds, then gave up because it just took too long).

91. Electroplankton
DS, 2006, Nintendo

Another one that’s not really a game, Electroplankton is just a glorified music toy. But Jesus, what a toy. Using one of ten different types of plankton, you poke the screen/draw lines/make spinning motions/clap into the microphone to produce music. But it gets really fancy with the Rec-Rec and Volvoice plankton, which let you record loops of your voice to mess with. Recording a list of obscenities and playing it back at triple speed so it sounds like the Chipmunks are dissin’ your stylez is far funnier than it probably should be. It’s a surprisingly sophisticated tool, letting you produce some genuinely great tunes with a bit of work, but because the developers are idiots you can’t save them, instantly pricing this as an expensive novelty. But if you do splash out, it’ll last you forever – it’s the sort of thing you ignore for months at a time, then pick up and have a blast for an hour with, then ignore again. Repeat for the rest of your life.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


96. Athlete Kings
Saturn, 1996, AM3/Sega

The reason I’m keeping relatively optimistic about Mario & Sonic is the fact that last time Sega gave the Track & Field model a whirl, this is what they came up with (well, technically it was Winter Heat, this game’s sequel, but whatevs). Take the traditional decathlon events, make some ridiculous characters (British entrant Jef Jansens, based on Daley Thompson, has arguably the best afro ever), give it silky animation and ultra-simple controls and away you go. Never did get the hang of the pole vault, mind.

95. Sonic Chaos
Master System, 1993, Aspect/Sega

I've long held this in fond regard, as it was the first Sonic I ever completed properly (i.e. with all the Chaos Emeralds). Once I smear the nostalgia out of my eyes, though, it’s not as great as I remembered. But it still has Aqua Planet Zone’s pretty skies, two of the most hilariously easy bosses ever, breaky-wall-go-nuts fun in Sleeping Egg Zone, the holy Rocket Shoes and a Badnik that looks like a turkey drumstick. And they all count for something in my book.

94. Sonic Advance 2
Game Boy Advance, 2003, Dimps/Sega

When it’s good, it’s very good; when it’s bad, it is several kinds of awful. The main levels are fun once you get your head round them – it’s more “learn the best route, then time-trial your face off” than other Sonics. Couple of the bosses are great, couple more of them are abysmal. One thing that is certain is that whoever invented the Special Stage entrance mechanism needs a hearty beating, because it is stupid and hard and awful. Oh, and it looks great.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


99. Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy
Gamecube, 2006, Travellers’ Tales/Activision

NGamer once said “Everything’s better in Lego,” and they were distinctly correct. LSWII:TOT (catchy) is packed full of the silly fun that those little plastic bricks seem to emanate (as long as you don’t step on them). Its resolutely old-school gameplay – run that way! Kill those guys! Jump up there! Run that way again! – is refreshingly pure and thoroughly addictive, and it’s easily one of the most charming games ever made. (Love the builders on the second Death Star slacking off and drinking tea.) Its one major problem is that the excellent co-op gameplay is pushed to the fore so much, that some of the levels are downright infuriating in single player because you simply can’t do everything at once. I’m looking at you, Death Star Escape. The solution? Make friends, I guess. Bah.

98. Virtual Springfield
PC, 1997, Digital Evolution/Fox Interactive

This is barely even a game, but I am easily pleased. Basically, you wander round a (damn funky for the time) 3D Springfield, poking things, collecting cards, unlocking secrets and playing minigames. You could probably clock all the stuff that comes closest to actual gameplay in two or three hours, but the fun comes from finding all the little bits and bobs you can do (throw gummi bears at the audience in the Aztec Cinema, fiddle with the lights while the Simpsons are trying to eat dinner), seeing all the animated sequences – all fully voiced by the cast, which was quite exciting back then – and spying all the references to the episodes. I’m pretty sure every single one that had been shown prior to the game’s release got at least one nod. So not much of a game, but a heck of a way to kill time.

97. Sonic Pinball Party
Game Boy Advance, 2003, Jupiter/Sega

So yeah, it’s a pinball game and Sonic is in it. And NiGHTS for that matter. And Amigo. And references to ChuChu Rocket!, Burning Rangers and Phantasy Star Online. The love displayed for Sonic Team’s back catalogue (and Sonic R, for some reason) is impressive, even if they mix up the Frozen Bell and Splash Garden music on the NiGHTS table and then give Frozen Bell Gulpo as a boss and Clawz to Mystic Forest rather than the other way round. The Samba de Amigo table is simultaneously too sparse and too hard to be any fun, but the other two are great, and it’s nicely addictive. The casino minigames, involving pinball takes on roulette, slots and bingo, especially. Oh, and there’s this great little puzzle game that’s kind of like Magical Drop, if you’ve ever come across that, tucked away in there too.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


102. Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf
Mega Drive, 1992, EA

I’ve never actually got off the second level of this, because I suck so bad. But I don’t need to to know it’s great. Lovely graphics, good controls, satisfying gameplay, little running sprites that make me giggle, and that sense of panic when you wander into a Danger Zone before you’re ready. Great stuff.

101. Fighting Vipers
Saturn, 1996, AM2/Sega

They should make a Fighting Vipers 3. Who cares if the second one was apparently rubbish. Anyway, if you’re not familiar, this was AM2’s answer to the gamers who said “VF’s elegant, subtle, complex combat is all well and good, but what I really want to do is throw a fat guy into a fence then beat him around the head and face with a skateboard.” Fast and vicious, with all sorts of neck-snaps, arm-wrenches, groin-kicks and a guy with a mullet inserting a Flying V into places where a Flying V really should not go, it was ace and it had a 16-year-old girl in a red PVC miniskirt whose signature attack was to thrust her bare backside into her opponent’s face. Possibly that is why they haven’t made a third one.

100. Another Code: Two Memories
DS, 2005, Cing/Nintendo

This is actually a really, really good game, and I’m placing it all the way down here to punish it. No self-respecting point-and-click adventure should be over in four hours. It is just not right. Also, the ending’s really abrupt. But aside from the monumentally outrageous brevity, this is a great game. The plot’s engaging (if a bit odd), it looks good (although the way the characters sort of stretch when the camera pans over a scene is very unnerving), it sounds fantastic, and the puzzles are intelligent and imaginative. Get it, but get it as cheaply as possible so you don’t feel too short-changed.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


105. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4
Gamecube, 2002, Neversoft/Activison

I really, really, really, really suck at Tony Hawk’s games, but I still love playing them. It does mean, however, that I’ve only ever bothered to actually buy one, and it wound up being this one purely because it was the version out at the time. So, it’s great, you skate round, you jump stuff, you know the drill.

104. Psycho Pinball
Mega Drive, 1994, Codemasters

Basically all the fondness I have for pinball tables stretches back to this game. Four tables (the above-pictured Psycho table led to the other three) a few minigames (top marks to the one where you’re in a whale’s belly popping its ulcers with crabs) and a armadillo called Psycho curled up to make the ball. Plus, if you bought it in Woolworths you got a free CD. Lovely.

103. Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II
PC, 1997, LucasArts

I think this was actually the first Star Wars game I ever played, so obviously there was excitement in whirling a lightsaber around while the music pounded away in the background, but it didn’t hurt that this was pretty damn ace. Super-hard FPS ak-shun with fantastic levels, brilliant weapons, sophisticated Force system (I believe this was the first game to let you choose between Light and Dark side) the ability to beat up robots, and fully filmed cut scenes featuring various Z-list actors getting excited because they could pretend they were in a Star Wars movie. Also, this is arguably the best game I’ve come across to convey a real sense of height (the level where you’re scurrying along the underside of a power station mounted over a vast canyon is real vertigo-inducing stuff). Fantastic.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

#107 Best Games Ever?

So over at the STCO message boards, people sometimes post lists of their favourite games. I did my top #25 in 2004 (I think), then my top #50 in 2005, and now I'm doing my top #107 because I am insane and very dull. Thought I may as well post them here, so....

107: Fighters Megamix
Saturn, 1997, AM2/Sega

Man, this was just about the most exciting thing ever when it was announced. Virtua Fighter 2 versus Fighting Vipers! With guest appearances from a whole shedload of other Sega games – Virtua Cop 2, Sonic the Fighters, Daytona USA…Yes, the Hornet from Daytona was a secret character. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a car hop up on its back wheels and give Jeffry McWild a quick jab in the face. Also, there was a giant piece of ham with comedy floating hands and feet. And a bean with a sombrero. Anyway, like most 3D fighters of the time, it’s dated pretty badly, but it’s still entertaining and worth checking out to see how Sega invented Smash Bros before Nintendo thought of it.

106. Sonic Adventure 2 Battle
Gamecube, 2002, Sonic Team USA/Sega

It has to be said that this has aged a hell of a lot better than the first Adventure. Of course, it wasn’t as good in the first place, so whatever. But a lot of the levels (basically all of Sonic’s and Shadow’s, about half of Tails’ and Eggman’s, a couple of Knuckles’ and Rouge’s if you don’t mind running around aimlessly for bloody ages) still stand up very nicely. City Escape, Final Rush, Sky Rail and Radical Highway are certainly the best attempts at 3D Sonic I’ve played. Plus, Eggman running around in the Chao Garden is hilarious. YOSH!