Random quote:


Spoony Plays Ultra Despair Girls: Danganronpa Another Episode, Part 6

In which I am reminded of why I love this series so much.



Spoony Plays Ultima IX: Ascension, Part 7

Wrong is a dungeon very worthy of its namesake.  Half-assed stealth missions and glitchiness ahoy...

See the bonus article if you want to know how to enable cheats.  (For time saving/glitch escaping/off-camera tomfoolery purposes only, of course).

Spoony Plays Ultima IX: Ascension, Part 6

Yew, the land of confusing area layouts, obnoxiously overpowered enemies and little to no fun.


Spoony Plays Grandia, Part 13

Two sad farewells and a new dawn in our big adventure.

This also marks the end of Disc 1!

Top 50 PC Games, #10-1

10. Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness (Blizzard Entertainment, 1995)

This is a controversial pick, I'm sure, but my favorite Blizzard game (and RTS) has to go to one of their earliest efforts in the genre: Warcraft II.  It may not be as advanced and strategic as Starcraft or Command and Conquer, but there's just a lot to like about about the game - its colorful and charming graphics, the strong soundtrack and audio design, the surprisingly good storyline, or the fact that it effectively incorporates combat across land, sea and air while most later RTSes excluded at least one of those things.  It may also be a bit of nostalgia talking, as I used to play a ton of this game over dial-up with my friends.  But either way, Warcraft II is a game that holds a lot of strong memories for me, and I was always disappointed that it fell off everyone's radar once Starcraft came out.

9. Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn (BioWare, 2000)

As most readers of my site know, I'm not really a BioWare fan; they seem to value the mentality that effortlessly plowing your way through endless waves of monsters and shoehorning in cheap T&A and pandering over any kind of compelling storytelling is great game making, and that's perhaps nowhere more evident than in the tremendous bomb Dragon Age II.  Before all that started, though, they created Baldur's Gate, which was not only a very good and extremely challenging CRPG, but led into an even better sequel that I still consider one of my favorite games of all time.  This game is  mercilessly difficult - enemies can and will frequently outnumber you, hit you with instant death attacks, or scatter your party to the winds with one well-placed confusion spell, and you have to resort to some very clever tactics at times in order to overcome them and succeed.  Of course, it's also all worth it because the story in the game is brilliant.  Following the exploits of a young Bhaalspawn as he attempts to come to terms with his birthright and either embrace it or reject it entirely, the game also carried a strong and compelling narrative with a very memorable cast of characters and some interesting moral choices.  I just wish that Bioware didn't lose sight of what put them on the map to begin with after they made this classic...

8. Duke Nukem 3D (3D Realms, 1996)

If Doom took first person shooters into a more realistic, yet still gameplay-centered experience, Duke Nukem 3D pushed that formula to perfection.  Yes, there are still plenty of key hunting and switch-flipping puzzles in the game, but the sheer genius of the level design also makes it a great experience.  Taking place in a dystopian LA overrun by aliens, the game has you running through relatively realistic environments like a supermarket, a prison, a strip club, flooded skyscrapers and, in the expansions, even the White House, all rendered in a surprising amount of detail.  The game's artillery was also surprisingly innovative for its era, with creative weapons like detonator-activated pipe bombs, a "freezethrower" that freezes enemies (leaving them vulnerable to being shattered with a kick) and a plethora of useful gadgets to navigate levels, including portable medkits, night vision goggles and even a jetpack.  Of course, the game also attracted plenty of controversy for containing nudity and over-the-top gore, but that all took a back seat to the sheer amount of fun it provided.

7. Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar (Origin Systems, 1985)

Ultima IV is very possibly the most unique CRPG ever made, and that is saying a lot.  Rather than having you quest to defeat some big bad guy, this game instead proves to be a quest of self-improvement, having the player atone for some of their more... questionable actions in the previous Ultima titles by embodying the eight virtues, venturing into the stygian abyss and recovering the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom to push Britannia into a new age of prosperity and spiritual guidance.  And yes, this does entail actually being a good person in the game - righting wrongs, resisting the temptation to steal and kill, and showing compassion, valor and humility when needed.  Of course, there are still plenty of puzzles to solve along the way and quite a bit of combat to endure, but that takes a backseat to the overall theme of being a virtuous character.  A great concept with a fantastic execution.

6. Scorched Earth (Wendell Hicken, 1991)

At a glance, Scorched Earth isn't much to look at - a game with tiny sprites and simplistic VGA graphics where tanks shoot missiles and try to blow each other up.  But then you take a closer look and find that this game is steeped in interesting weaponry and tactics.  From MIRVs to Funky Bombs to Sandhogs, the game has a variety of interesting weapons to utilize, some of which can devastate everything on the screen in short order.  Further adding to the fun are defensive items like shields and options like having shots wrap around to the other side of the screen, bounce off the ceiling or radically shifting winds making aiming shots more difficult.  In short, it's a game with a lot of options and endless replayability, especially in multi-player combat.  The only real crime is that it never got an online play option!

5. Thief 2: The Metal Age (Looking Glass Studios, 2000)

Thief 2, as one might expect, is a brilliant followup to the original game, improving many elements of the gameplay and introducing some new items and elements.  That's all well and good, but the real draw to me was the atmosphere of the game, which is bizarre and downright eerie.  In contrast to the supernatural bent of the original game, Thief 2 is much more steeped in cyberpunk, with robotic security cameras, security robots and creepy cyborgs all playing a part in the story and lending themselves to the gameplay in some very clever ways.  Of course, the newfound setting also lends itself to some clever new gameplay elements like scouting orbs (allowing you to see around corners without endangering yourself) and "vine arrows" that can stick in metal grating as well as wooden planks.  Thief 2 is a brilliant experience all around.

4. Simcity 2000 (Maxis, 1994)

I'm generally not a fan of simulation games, but Simcity 2000 managed to win me over in a big way, in part due to its uncomplicated interface, intuitive gameplay and open-ended structure lending itself to all sorts of creativity.  You could create almost anything that you wanted, from a utopian metropolis to a small island city to something downright Orwellian, and it was all perfectly valid.  Hell, you could even unleash disasters like fire storms and alien attacks on your town and rebuild it however you wanted.  Simcity 2000 is just a blast to play, and a perfect example of a game with nothing to improve upon - its sequels all tried to fit in even more bureaucracy and things to keep track of, but ended up being far less fun...

3. System Shock 2 (Looking Glass Studios/Irrational Games, 1999)

Looking Glass made some fantastic games in their heyday, but by far my favorite of the bunch has to be the last game they ever contributed to - System Shock 2.  A followup to the original innovative classic that managed to improve upon its predecessor in just about every way - a horrifying alien atmosphere, menacing enemies, fantastic characterizations and gameplay that expertly combined elements of first person shooting, survival horror and even a touch of an RPG as you had to upgrade your skills and statistics throughout.  All the while being menaced by mutated people, alien horrors and the ever-creepy AI SHODAN, whose distorted, yet calm and neutral voice is downright chilling.  System Shock 2 is my choice for one of the finest games ever made, and one of the few games I find legitimately unsettling even sixteen years after its original release.  Bioshock certainly tried, but it couldn't match up on even half the ideas System Shock 2 brought to the table...

2. Fallout 2 (Black Isle Studios, 1998)

Another brilliant title from Black Isle, and another of my favorite games of all time to boot.  The original Fallout definitely had charm to spare with its open-ended character development, multiple ways to complete objectives, heavy world lore and a wry sense of humor despite itself, but Fallout 2 took all of that and expanded upon it tenfold.  Bigger guns, new monsters, a wide variety of recruitable characters, and tons of new locations to explore and characters to interact with - some lovable, some you just love to hate.  There's also a reworked Perk system and a very handy new feature in the form of a drivable car, which makes transportation around the landscape more convenient and gives you plenty of extra carrying capacity to boot.  A fantastic RPG experience from beginning to end and, again, one of the finest games in the CRPG genre.

1. Ultima VII: The Black Gate (Origin Systems, 1992)

Yep, here it is, my pick for the best PC game of all time.  And while many may disagree with me on where it's placed, there's no denying that Ultima VII is a fantastic title, especially for its era.  An open-world game that gives the player an unprecedented amount of freedom and interactivity with the environment (from exploring dungeons to baking bread to spinning cloth), Ultima VII was utterly amazing for a 1992 release.  Top that with Origin's usual brilliant world-building and characterizations, as well as strong yet intuitive gameplay and an intriguing plot centered around a string of mysterious murders and the rise of a mysterious new brotherhood in Britannia, and you also have a thoroughly engrossing experience.  Of course, this all came at the cost of being exceptionally difficult to run on computers of the time (having very high hardware requirements, conflicting with Windows and not even having the courtesy to supply a mouse driver for a mouse-driven game being chief concerns), but it was all worth it because the game was so damned good.

Top 50 PC Games, #20-11

20. System Shock (Looking Glass Studios, 1994)

Looking Glass is another beloved name among long-time PC gamers for their numerous innovative titles, and believe me, we haven't seen the last of them on this list.  Unfortunately, "innovation" doesn't necessarily translate into "high sales", causing the company to fold in early 2000.  However, the games they left behind were an incredible influence on gaming as a whole - Ultima Underworld, the Thief series, and of course System Shock, a shooter with a heavy puzzle and storytelling bent.  You'll have to fix circuitry panels, hunt for keycards, find audio logs, venture into cyberspace, and of course blast away hordes of cyborgs, robots and mutants created by the evil AI SHODAN in order to save the earth and earn your freedom.  The mouse-driven control scheme and complex interface definitely take some getting used to, but there's no denying that System Shock was a major game-changer for the genre.

19. Freedom Planet (GalaxyTrail, 2014)

Freedom Planet is essentially a giant love letter to Sega Genesis era action titles (particularly Sonic) with its colorful graphics, fluid animations and emphasis on speedy gameplay and over-the-top boss battles.  But you know what?  That's no bad thing by me!  The levels in the game are a ton of fun to navigate, the game gives you three distinct playable characters to travel through the game as, and the multiple routes through stages and hidden secrets give it some substantial replay value.  Not to mention that it succeeds where nearly all of the 3D Sonic games failed and gives a thrilling sense of speed in addition to some surprisingly intense challenge.  Freedom Planet is an excellent homage that even surpasses many of the games it pays tribute to.

18. Starcraft (Blizzard Entertainment, 1998)

Blizzard Entertainment struck gold with Starcraft, which was not only a fantastic real time strategy game, but a major change-up for almost every game in the genre to that point. As opposed to having only two factions at war with one another and only minute differences between them, Starcraft featured three, and each one was a very different experience - Terrans had generally well-rounded forces, Zerg units were weak individually but focused on overwhelming their opponents with sheer numbers, and Protoss units, while powerful, were also very expensive and slow to deploy, requiring a lot more subtlety and planning to use well.  Still, all three races were impeccably well balanced, and that led to some very intense multiplayer matches.  The game also came with a very intricate map editor that allowed fans to create some very intricate and interesting maps, essentially turning it into a completely different gaming experience, so that was definitely a highlight as well.

17. Shadowrun: Dragonfall (HareBrained Schemes, 2014)

The second entry in the revived Shadowrun franchise, and easily my favorite of the bunch so far.  Set in an anarchic Germany, the game has you take command of a small group of Shadowrunners and investigate a growing conspiracy that led to your friend's death... and could hold grave implications for the world as a whole.  Further adding to the compelling narrative are some brilliantly-written characters and quite a bit of moral ambiguity; the choices players make can have a long-term impact on how events unfold, and what seems like a good idea at the time can lead to some very dire consequences later on.  Shadowrun is what quality CRPGs are all about.

16. Max Payne (Remedy Entertainment, 2001)

Max Payne was the game that put Finnish developers Remedy Entertainment on the map. The game at its core is a tale of revenge as a New York cop goes on a killing spree, gunning down the mobsters who killed his family and partner.  What made it into something really special, though, was the strong writing in the game thanks to Sam Lake; equal parts disturbing, visceral and funny, Max Payne was an experience unlike any other to that date.  Of course, the gameplay also had an innovative element of its own thanks to incorporating "Bullet Time", allowing the player to take on large enemy forces with relative ease by slowing down time in order to effectively dodge enemy fire and draw a bead on them before they could even react.

15. Undertale (Toby Fox, 2015)

Is it fair to put a game that hasn't even been out a month yet on the list?  Well, I'm doing it anyway, because Undertale is totally worthy of the honor.  Taking inspiration from the SNES classic Earthbound for its simple yet charming visual style, quirky sense of humor and sincere charm, Undertale also adds an element of player choice to the proceedings.  The player is given full choice as to their actions in this world - they can fight their way through everything, or resolve battles more diplomatically (which entails all sorts of silly dialog options), and each choice is perfectly valid and can lead to one of several endings.  The game's combat system is also innovative in itself, being based on timed button presses to land attacks and a shoot-em-up styled bullet dodging experience to avoid enemy attacks (which you will have to get very good at in order to reach the Pacifist ending).  The game is also overly short, but in an era of 50+ hour games that are that long just for the sake of being that long, I don't mind this fact one bit.  Undertale is a stroke of genius and deserves all the acclaim it's gotten in the short time since its release.

15. Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny (Origin Systems, 1988)

The Ultima series once again surfaces on this list, but that shouldn't surprise anybody by now as I absolutely love the franchise; it was an incredible innovator for its era and continues to be a major influence on every game that followed it thanks to the merits of its innovative concepts and strong writing.  Ultima V is no different; taking place in Britannia after it has slowly been turned into a dictatorship under the corrupted ruler Lord Blackthorn, the player must follow a trail of clues to reunite with their former allies, recover the crown jewels of Lord British, free him from his prison and restore him to power.  Of course, with a very ambitious development team also comes a very high demand on the player, and Ultima V doesn't pull any punches in terms of difficulty - getting started in the game is a very difficult task since you're frequently outnumbered and have little int he way of decent equipment, and it only gets tougher once you venture into the dungeons and start meeting reapers, demons and dragons who can lay waste to your entire party in no time flat.  Ultima V is a very difficult experience, but ultimately an extremely compelling and rewarding one once you're used to it.

13. Planescape: Torment (Black Isle Studios, 1999)

Black Isle Studios was another big name in the late 90s, bringing us several beloved RPGs known as much for their deep gameplay as their intricate writing.  Planescape; Torment is probably the best example of the latter, being a game that contains over one million words of dialog for the player to experience.  That may sound like it makes for a boring game, but thanks to the fantastic writing, it's anything but - it's a journey of bizarre characters, settings and experiences from start to finish, and an extremely compelling one to boot.  And you kno what?  That's a lot more compelling and memorable than endless gore-spilling, gold gathering and equipment upgrading topped off with "LOL BOOBS because we're adults really honest".  If only more modern CRPGs took notes from this one!

12. Thief Gold (Looking Glass Studios, 1998)

Looking Glass returns to the list with the first entry in what is probably my favorite stealth franchise of all time: Thief.  Thief Gold is an update of Thief: The Dark Project, adding in three new levels as well as some minor tweaks to existing ones to make things more in line with the revised storyline.  But what makes Thief so great?  Well, the gameplay, for one, which requires the player to use shadows and diversions in order to draw enemies away so they can slip past unharmed.  To that end, the player also has a wide variety of tools to utilize - flash bombs, gas arrows, mines, rope arrows and noisemakers to name a few.  Also adding a nice twist to things was the fact that it was one of the first objective-based games out there - instead of just killing everything in your path, you now had specific goals to carry out in each stage, and the less attention you attracted along the way, the better off you were (not to mention that the higher difficulty levels forbid you from killing people anyway).  Of course, beneath it all was also a menacing atmosphere and pretty solid storyline involving the resurrection of a dark god whose existence is a threat to the world itself, but that tends to take a backseat to the thrill of the heist the game so effectively pulls off.

11. Torchlight II (Runic Games, 2012)

There are quite a few Diablo-styled action roguelikes on the PC, but the one that takes the genre to perfection in my book is Torchlight II.  Created by a team party made up of former Blizzard North (Diablo I) staff, Torchlight 2 takes everything that made Diablo a hit and cranks it up to eleven.  Combat is fast and frantic, the four playable classes in the game can be customized in any way the player wishes, and online multiplayer (sorely missing from the first game) is now back in full force.  The game even has full support for player mods which can even be used in online games, though all players must have the same set of mods installed in order to play together.  Some other clever tweaks, like each player finding separate loot drops and being able to send your pet back to town with a haul of weapons to trade in for cash, also make sure that the action remains constant and frantic throughout.  Torchlight II is pure fun.