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9/27/2015

Top 50 PC Games, #40-31

40. AM2R (Some awesome fans, 2016)


Nintendo's Metroid series is one that has been oft-copied, but puzzlingly sat idle in Nintendo's own hands for nearly a decade.  AM2R is a stellar fan-created remake of Metroid II for the PC, combining excellent visuals and audio design, spot-on controls and polished gameplay on par with the top games in the franchise.  Naturally, Nintendo quickly became green with envy for said fans doing something better with Metroid than they had in over a decade and had it pulled from the internet, once again reaffirming their philosophy that "If people can't play high-quality fan games or even our old games that were good, they'll have to buy our new games that aren't so good".  Which just seems like terrible business practice to me, but oh well.  If you can get your hands on this piece of forbidden treasure, you should, because AM2R is a game with more professional polish than most professionally released games, and perfectly captures that feeling of isolation in an eerie alien world that the classic Metroid games provided.

39. Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams (Black Forest Games, 2012)


Almost everyone knows the story of the original Giana Sisters game - designed for early computer platforms to compete with Mario, but recalled shortly after its launch (or just plain never released) due to Nintendo threatening a lawsuit due to their overbearing similarities in visual and gameplay styles.  Well, many years later its developers and Nintendo buried the hatchet, resulting in Giana Sisters DS and later this.  A platformer that breaks the mold with its clever gimmick of swapping between two character types - Cute and Punk - to alter your character's abilities and change the game environment accordingly, causing some traps to vanish and some stage elements to be subtly altered to allow for new routes.  With the large levels, tough bosses and simple yet captivating gameplay, Twisted Dreams is a quality title.

38. Fire Pro Wrestling World (Spike Chunsoft, 2017)


Fire Pro Wrestling is professional wrestling franchise that made a big splash in Japan, but is mostly unknown on western shores (only seeing a low-key release on the PS2 in 2007).  However, this long-awaited revival brings back everything that made the franchise great - timing-driven gameplay, an incredible soundtrack, and of course tons of customization. Not only are there custom wrestlers and a massive editor allowing you to create them down to the slightest detail, but you can even make your own belts, referees, entrances, and even program the AI for both wrestlers and refs to fully fine-tune your experience.  Basically, the Scorched Earth of wrestling games. It's a very complex engine that requires a lot of time and effort to fully enjoy, but there is no better professional wrestling experience in the realm of gaming.

37. Worms World Party (Team-17, 2001)


Just one game in the long-running Worms turn-based warfare strategy series, but widely considered the best for many reasons.  Not the least of which being that it gives players the option to have teams larger than four worms and has just the right blend of weapons, gadgets and options to make for lengthy, yet engaging online battles.  Not to mention that it's always more fun dropping a concrete donkey on a bigger group than a smaller one, of course.





36. Cave Story (Studio Pixel, 2004)

A beloved modern classic among fans of exploration-driven titles like Metroid, Cave Story is also a labor of love by its creator, who singlehandedly wrote the game's code, designed its levels and graphics, and wrote all of its music over a five year period.  It certainly shows too, delivering an enjoyably quirky game environment with some challenging bosses and surprisingly good chiptune sounds throughout.  The game has since been ported to numerous platforms both officially and unofficially, with some ports adding extra content or remixed gameplay, but the original will always be held dear to fans of independent gaming.

35. Noitu Love 2: Devolution (Konjak, 2012)


One of several games created by independent Swedish developer Joakim Sandberg, Noitu Love 2 is a followup to a relatively simplistic action-platformer that draws a bit of inspiration from games like Mega Man.  However, the gameplay this time is completely changed up, resembling a Treasure-esque action game more than anything with its relentless enemy swarms, over-the-top boss battles, constant explosions and emphasis on fast movement, dodging and hard-hitting combination attacks.  While its mouse-and-keyboard control setup does take a bit of getting used to, the game is brilliantly fast-paced and exhilarating once you're used to it.

34. X-COM: UFO Defense (Mythos Games/Microprose Software, 1995)


Also released as "UFO: Enemy Unknown", UFO Defense served as the first game in the strategic simulation X-COM series. The game expertly combined elements of base building, turn-based combat and business sim as the player had to manage their limited resources, reverse-engineer alien technology and keep their squads well-equipped (and alive) enough to deal with escalating alien attacks across the globe, with their ultimate goal being to take the fight to the alien base on Mars and defeat them in a final assault.  It also found just the right blend of gameplay elements, providing plenty of depth and challenge while not overwhelming the player.  X-COM had a excellent remake in 2012, but the original is certainly nothing to sneeze at either.

33. Out of This World (Delphine Software, 1991)

Created from the get-go to be a Dragon's Lair-esque cinematic action adventure on a much lower budget, OOTW utilized vector graphics for much of its animation, resulting in a style with relatively little visual detail but very smooth animation.  The end result was certainly distinctive and memorable, adding a grim  yet beautiful aesthetic to the game and its many, many death scenes.  The gameplay was also quite solid, if heavily trial-and-error based as you tried to solve puzzles, evade enemies and figure out the correct sequence of events in order to survive another melee with aliens.

32. VVVVVV (Terry Cavanagh, 2010)


A modern masterpiece in the platforming genre, VVVVVV puts a subtle, but effective twist on the whole thing - there isn't really a jump button per se, but the player does have the ability to flip their own gravity to traverse obstacles.  Other platformer mainstays like screen-wrapping segments, auto scrollers and disintegrating platforms all make appearances as well, and there are also a few unique twists, like having to survive a relentless attack for a set period of time whilst ricocheting between two walls (much tougher than it sounds).  It can be a bit frustrating in places, but it's well designed enough that it remains fun.  An absolutely stellar soundtrack and a minimal, but eye-catching aesthetic complete the package, creating a game that's a joy for both speedrunners and more casual players.

31. Tyrian 2000 (Eclipse Software, 2000)


I was never a big fan of shoot-em-up games; they all start to feel very samey to me after a while, not to mention the fact that they feature one-hit deaths and swarming enemy patterns that are generally extremely trial-and-error based and require spot-on precision, and I don't really have the patience for that kind of thing.  Tyrian 2000, however, is more my speed.  An updated re-release of 1995's Tyrian, the game also features a lot of elements not normally seen in the genre - an in-depth storyline told between stages, a wide variety of customizable ship parts, weapons, sub-weapons and ship types, and even a pretty good sense of humor as you play through various minigames and collect giant fruits for points and have the option to pilot a ship that fires bananas and hot dogs at its enemies.  Of course, the colorful graphics and sweet soundtrack also help, as does the fact that you actually have a health bar (in the form of a shield meter and an armor meter.  It still manages to be quite a challenge in spite of everything, but it's one that I can get into nevertheless.  Tyrian 2000 is a standout title in the genre.