Hot on the heels of (13 months later than) my Top 5 Christmas songs, I’ve decided this format is a useful tool for inspiring blog posts. This is still influenced by High Fidelity, but also because my friend Simon over at Red Parsley does it so well.
Maybe writing about my top 5 games of all time might give me pause to consider that I have the list right. I’ll add a few ‘also rans’ to the end for those that either nearly made the list, or that may have been on there in the past.
In reverse order:
Number 5 – Saturn Bomberman – SEGA Saturn 1996
Bomberman is one of my favourite game series, and still my favourite local multi-player title. I’ve been playing it since Dyna Blaster, and there have been some stand out titles along the way. (Also plenty of dross spin-offs, but we’ll skip over them) The Saturn edition is my favourite, partly because it’s on my favourite system of all time (oooh, I can feel another list coming on) but also because 10 player bomberman on a widescreen is still a thing of beauty, and a highlight of retro events for me. I also enjoyed the single player campaign on this one, which I wouldn’t usually bother with. Other releases in the series that I’ve really enjoyed are:
Bomberman Live: (This was Xbox 360, but essentially the same game came to Wii and PS3, I bought all 3 versions to play with different groups of friends online). I adored it on the 360 and played it constantly. Sadly my friends gradually stopped playing with me, apparently I’m a Bomberbully. 🙁
Wario Blast: One of my favourite games for the original Gameboy, and one of few I still own. I remember playing through this in co-op with my best mate in high school on his Super Gameboy. Perhaps that SNES had a use afterall… *chuckle*
Atomic Bomberman: Difficult to defend generally, I nonetheless had a lot of fun with this. Supporting 10 players, I played a bunch of it online on PC way before the Xbox 360 was on the scene. It also helped that I grabbed the ‘Sold Out Software’ release, for full RRP, £4.99.
Number 4 – Warcraft 3 – PC 2002
My favourite ever RTS, and the reason I ended up losing thousands of hours to World of Warcraft… Real Time Strategy is that one genre I like the idea of much more than the reality. I think Warcraft 3 remains as the only RTS I completed the entire story mode for, and all the content from the expansion. It’s also the only one I ever managed to win any games online against randoms (although probably still less than 1 in 10…) I keep it installed now, and still fire up the occasional skirmish.
Number 3 – Bubble Bobble – SEGA Master System 1991
There is admittedly a certain amount of sentimentality to this for me, but the game still holds up today and deserves its place here. These days I play it on the SEGA Saturn double release with Rainbow Islands, but first time round this was a regular on my Master System (arguably the best home port of the game ever) I played it in co-op with one of my sisters, and it is a favourite gaming memory. If I ever do a top 5 local co-op games list, I’m pretty sure this will be number 1. Interestingly the ‘Match 3’ spin-off series Bust-a-Move/Puzzle Bobble is my favourite game in that genre too, and I played a lot of that with the same sister when I first got my Saturn. From a nostalgia point of view, Toejam & Earl holds a similar place in my heart to Bubble Bobble, as that was our game on the Mega Drive, but it doesn’t play quite so well today.
Number 2 – Quake – PC 1996
This was the game that made me really pay attention to the FPS genre. One of my biggest (my views on Nintendo aside) ‘gamer crimes’ is not really liking Doom. I just never really caught the hype, and although I had quite a bit of fun with Heretic, I didn’t really ‘get it’ until Quake came, and things were really 3D for the first time. It also helped that I experienced DosQuake, then WinQuake, then GLQuake over a short period of time, each one blowing my mind afresh. It was seriously close to taking my number one spot, and I replay at least the first few levels frequently (albeit with a nice new modern engine). The single player game is glorious and the theme had me hooked.
The multi-player introduced me to deathmatches and led to those weekends of carrying your whole PC to a friend’s house for LAN parties. It sparked a love affair with FPS multi-player which lasted a solid decade for me, and peaked with Q3A and UT99. There have been great games since, but those are always the experiences I’m chasing when I play online now.
Number 1 and the greatest game of All-time! – TxK – 2014
Up until the release of TxK, this spot was occupied by Tempest 2000 on the Jaguar. My views on Tempest 2000 can be applied to TxK pretty much as a copy & paste and still fit exactly.
TxK for me is the perfect game. The visuals, sounds and gameplay all suit my tastes, and when I play it is gaming enjoyment at its finest. This game alone would be enough to keep my Vita secure in its place as my favourite ever handheld (uh-oh…). I also really love Space Giraffe (the game that caused me to buy an Xbox 360).
If you get the chance, Llamasoft attend a lot of games shows across the UK, and frequently have a version of TxK running on VR hardware with a custom built rotary controller. This is the best way to experience the game, and I really wish it was in my house.
I could have been a contender…
These games almost made my list, and if I make top 5 lists based on platform or genre, I’d expect to see them there.
From the Master System: Fantasy Zone and Alex Kidd in Miracle World. Both games massively sentimental for me, bathed in nostalgia. I grew up with four older sisters who owned various micro computers. My first gaming experiences were on the Texas Ti99, Commodore 16+4, Rubber-keyed speccy, but the first machine that was MINE was my Master System 2. It had Alex Kidd built in, and it’ll forever be in my heart. Fantasy Zone was probably bettered by its sequels, but the original still holds up.
Representing Nintendo (because I’m not a monster): Animal Crossing and Mario Kart. These two series are generally the reason I buy Nintendo hardware. Animal Crossing on the 3DS is probably my favourite, and Mario Kart Wii was stand-out because of how much I played it online. Mario Kart DS at the height of the console’s popularity was sublime though, at one point I was playing this daily with 4 other people during lunchtime at work, including my boss.
Honourable mention: Myst – This was bundled with our first Windows 95 PC, a delightful P75 Compaq Presario. It was SO pretty, and the music and sound fx were spot on. I have been replaying it as ‘Real Myst’ on Steam recently, it gets a lot of grief, but it’s one of the best adventure games I’ve ever played, and one of the most atmospheric games of any genre. (Also read the books, they’re excellent.)