In no particular order, welcome to the Best Games of Ever Made:
Mario RPG Series (Nintendo SNES 1996/N64 2000/GC 2004)
The Mario RPG series has always caused people to go ‘WTF?’ The first one was on the SNES, (Nintendo/Squaresoft) it was an isometric game and it was good, although Nintendo in its infinate wisdom only released the game in Japan and the USA. I had to buy it on import way back when. The second was Paper Mario (Nintendo/Intelligent Systems) on the N64, it followed on in the Pa Rappa 2D polygon style and was again good stuff. Paper Mario 2 in the Gamecube (Nintendo/Intelligent Systems) is by the best of the series. It’s action based RPG of the highest order, rivals anything by Squaresoft at their best. Simple enough that anyone can play it with some depth beneath the surface in the timing of all the moves. Worth buying a Gamecube for.
R-Type (Irem, Arcade, 1987)
The side scrolling shoot-em up game. It took Konamiï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s Nemesis and slapped it around, then dragged it kicking and screaming up to date. The bit everyone remembers is Geigerï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s large alien. MAME plays this well, though I warn you R-Type is hard and has aged badly.
| R-Type | MAME |
Gauntlet (Atari, Arcade, 1985)
“Save keys to open doors” the game informs you in an American accent. Up to four people can play at once, exploring dungeons and fighting monsters from a top-view perspective. Each player’s character has different strengths and weaknesses: Warrior, Wizard, Elf, and Valkyrie. The players collect food, potions, and treasure in return for points, health, magic and power-ups. MAME is the best place for Gauntlet fun.
| Gauntlet | MAME |
Hard Drivin’ and Race Drivin’ (Atari, Arcade, 1989 / 1990)
Great arcade games that never made it to home consoles or computers in a decent form. Even now MAME handles these very badly and I’ve never got them running to a point where the game is playable. These are pseudo simulations, the handling is perfect and if you drive well one game can last a really long time. It was the best arcade experience around, turning off for the stunt track, hitting the cow looping successfully … great times for 20p a throw. You’ll have to find one of these in an arcade to appreciate it.
| Hard Drivin | Race Drivin | MAME |
Diablo II / Dungeon Siege (Blizzard/Gas Powered Games, PC, 2000/2003)
I’ve lumped these together as Dungeon Siege is a modern reworking of Diablo II. I’ve played DS to death and only recently got into DII so I did things a different way around to a lot of people. Most people I know that ODï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ed on Diablo don’t rate DS as it ‘is too similar, been there, done that’. That misses the point of DS, it is a slick Diablo, damned slick. Simply the best PC action RPG I’ve played, and the sequel is out autumn 2004.
| Blizzard | Gas Powered Games |
Doom (id, PC, 1993?)
ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½Nuff said. Well OK, maybe not quite enough. The daddy of the FPS. Forget Wolf and Catacombs, Doom is the game the defined the FPS benchmark.
| id Software |
Quazatron (Hewson, Spectrum 48K, 1985)
An underrated classic that improved on the C64 incarnation Paradroid in every way, this isometric tactical shooter stole a huge chunk of my childhood. As a kleptomaniac faulty droid you are sent on what your superiors consider a suicide mission. To survive you need to blow up or grapple and take parts from other robots until you clear each world. I still sometimes load Quazatron now, it is that good. There is no working remake of Quazatron, although a couple of teams are trying to make 3D versions there progress looks like it is between slow to none.
| Quazatron | Spectrum Emulator |
Ranarama (Hewson, Spectrum 48/128K, 1987)
If Quazatron is underrated this one is off the radar; few rate this game as it’s just not known. Hewson took the game elements of Quazatron, made it a top down gauntlet game, and then polished everything. Mervyn was messing about with some spells and has turned himself into a frog, and now he has to conquer the dungeons to find the mage that can turn him back. He can cast spells, but to do this (and to survive) he has to tackle the warlocks and necromancers wandering the dungeons and grab runes off them. As well as a fast past shoot-em up and adventure the game has a great puzzle sequence revolving around the spelling of Ranarama. Try it, this is a classic. Not surprisingly no-one has remade Ranarama.
| Ranarama | Spectrum Emulator |
Head over Heels (Ocean, Spectrum 48/128K, 1987)
Ultimate’s (now Rare) Knight Lore proved it could be done in 48K, Head over Heels by Ocean
refined the genre to near perfection. In the days before polygons sprite isometric 3D adventures were top of the graphic food chain. The Spectrum led worldwide home gaming back in 1984 – 1987 and this isometric arcade adventure puzzle game is one of the best. Head and Heels have been captured, separated and imprisoned in the castle headquarters of Blacktooth. Your job is to get them both out of the castle and into the market place so they can join up again and escape. Sounds easy? Believe me it isn’t. Head over Heels has a freeware remake available for the PC and Mac OS X.
| Head Over Heels (Original) | Head Over Heels (Remake) | Spectrum Emulator |
The Sentinel (Firebird, Spectrum, 48K, 1987)
Almost impossible to explain to someone in an interesting way. You are a robot tasked with destroying the Sentinel on each planet, to do this you must absorb enough energy to reach the highest point on the landscape. Avoid the Sentinel’s energy sapping gaze and win by absorbing the Sentinel and warping on to the next of 9999 worlds. Great game of 3D strategy and action which is pant-soiling jump inducing as your plan to absorb the Sentinel falls down as it starts absorbing you. There is a freeware remake for the PC and it is really good.
| The Sentinel (Original) | Sentry (Remake) | Spectrum Emulator |
Mario Kart (Nintendo, SNES, 1993?)
Who hasn’t played this? Great in multiplayer, not shabby in single player. The N64 version wasn’t a patch on this, the GC version isn’t bad but still fails to reach the heights of the SNES classic.
| ZSNES |
Mario 64 (Nintendo, N64, 1996?)
The largest step forward in modern gaming history, the birth of the fast polygon game. This really gave a kick up the pants to the entire games industry and it remains one of the best 3D games ever made; the character control and the camera are perfect. The new Mario Sunshine isn’t a patch on the old version, which is an indictment against Nintendo in every way. Your best bet for a decent game of this is to buy a second hand N64.
Goldeneye (Rare, N64, 1996?)
The greatest console multiplayer game since Mario Kart. Rare, who seem to appear a couple of times on this list, wrote a classic shooter. It has aged really badly, but I think still deserves a nod. Your best bet for a decent game of this is to buy a second hand N64.
Secret of Mana (Seiken Densetsu 2) (SquareSoft, SNES, 1993)
The SquareSoft SNES action RPGs. Square hit a run of form that few companies can hit, ending after Final Fantasy 7 (which is an almost made it on this list). Square have had a return to form with the release of Seiken Densetsu 5 (Sword of Mana) on the GBA.
| ZSNES |
Zelda: Link to the Past (Nintendo, SNES, 1992)
The single greatest game ever written? Why yes, that’s what I think. Break out your old SNES, your GBA or ZSNES emulator and give this a shot. It has hardly aged; it is still a great game.
| ZSNES |
Dune 2 (Westwood, PC, 1992)
The first modern RTS, give it its due. I loved this and played it to death, I recall that the last level was insanely hard as the oppenent took joy in blowing up your buildings using a missile – every 5 minutes. A lazy game design technique still used in C&C: Generals today.
| Dune 2 |
Grim Fandango (LucasArts, PC, 1998)
LucasArts SCUMM games, point and click joy. But were they the pinnacle? No, that was the 3D Grim Fandango. I know this shouldnï¿½ï¿½ï¿½t be in my list as GF is named below as well, but everyone knows this is the greatest point and click ever made and yet so few have actually played it. Buy it now.
| Grim Fandango |
Elite (Firebird, BBC Micro, 1984)
David Braben and Ian Bells masterpiece, the game that took them to court and spawned the most bugged PC sequel ever. The best version is the Acorn Archimedes, though playing that is a bit difficult as the Archimedes emulators are not great. The second best version, and the version Ian Bell recommends, is the NES one. It is available for free from Ian’s website.
| Ian Bell |
Almost made it:
Street Fighter Alpha II, Capcom Vs Streetfighter and so on (Arcade, Capcom, 199x-)
FF7 (Playstation, SquareSoft, 1997)
TLL (Tornado Low Level) (Vortex, Spectrum, 1984)
The Simpsons (Arcade, Konami, 1991)
With a nod to X-Men/TMNT, Konami’s 4 player fighting games were a genre all to themselves. Not much in the way of skill required but good fun.
Off the list the following games I agree with:
Super Mario Bros. 3 (1990)
Day of the Tentacle (1993)
Smash TV (1990)
Total Annihilation (1997)
The Revenge of Shinobi (1989)
Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker (1990)
Samurai Shodown II (1994)
Marble Madness (1984)
Double Dragon (1987)
Grim Fandango (1998)
Super Mario World (1991)
Star Control II (1992)
Street Fighter II: The World Warrior (1991)
Starcraft and Starcraft: Brood War (1998)
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)