FF7 (Playstation, SquareSoft, 1997)
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.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)
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.
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 OD’ed 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.
Shoot em up
R-Type (Irem, Arcade, 1987)
The side scrolling shoot-em up game. It took Konami’s Nemesis and slapped it around, then dragged it kicking and screaming up to date. The bit everyone remembers is Geiger’s large alien. MAME plays this well, though I warn you R-Type is hard and has aged badly. R-Type Leo (R-Type 3) is a more modern shooter and worth playing.
Scrolling shoot-em-up game. Use your force to help kill the aliens. Pick up power-ups that appear when you kill “Armos”. Power-ups help you get stronger. They include air-to-ground, reflective, air-to-air, heat-seeking lasers, and speed-ups.
Total Annihilation (1997)
Starcraft and Starcraft: Brood War (1998)
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 opponent 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.
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 called Sentry and it is really good.