19. Virtua Cop 2
Format: Saturn, Arcade, Dreamcast, PC
Ah yes, here’s another game that made me fall for its genre singlehandedly. My love of lightgun games can be traced right back here. Impressive when you consider I didn’t actually get a gun to play it with for about a year.
When I got a Saturn for Christmas 1996 (hereafter The Best Christmas Ever™) I got two pads and one game with it. Said game was Virtua Cop 2, and I fell in love. Quite apart from the excitement of a new console, and that wonderful tinkle-swoosh-BOOM start-up sequence the Saturn had, quite apart from the novelty of a game that came on a CD rather than a cartridge and was all in 3D with polygons and everything, VC2 was simply a beautifully crafted piece of work. Even with a pad, it was a hugely satisfying crusade against a stream of perps and/or scumbags who only understood one thing, and that was being shot in the face. (Or the hand, if you wanted to show off, getting extra points for a “Justice Shot”.) Despite having just three levels – kind of four if you did all three levels in order, but level 4 was just a boss fight – it was amazingly enjoyable and exciting to play through again and again. Running, and indeed driving, all over Virtua City, grabbing shot-limited extra guns, choosing which route to take, looking out for all the Virtua Fighter nods, fighting a guy who chucked a truck at you – it’s the most breathlessly exciting action movie never made.
MAGIC MOMENT: going through the cruise ship’s kitchen and bar in level 2. Watermelons? Explode satisfyingly when shot. Champagne bottles? Explode satisfyingly when shot. Big comedy joints of ham? You get the idea.