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1/17/2016

Spoony's Top 100 Games, #100-91

Just as the name implies, this is a top 100 of my personal favorite games of all time.  Keep in mind that this list is my opinion and no-one else's, so if you don't agree with an included game or where it's placed... I honestly don't care!

100. Castle of the Winds (Saadasoft, 1993)

I've never been huge on dungeon crawlers, but Castle of the Winds was always one that appealed to me.  I think a large part of that may be nostalgia value for a simpler time in gaming; the crudely-styled non-animated sprites and graphics, the tiled Windows interface, the brief but very well-written bits of prose (most of which are in a .hlp file; how ancient is that?), and of course hours of gameplay that its developer managed to cram onto a single 3 1/4" floppy disk.  Even today, I can still load this one up in a VM and have fun for a few hours disarming traps and killing monsters with ice balls.  Games like Diablo and Torchlight may be better in every way, but Castle of the Winds is an excellent guilty pleasure.

99. Picross DS (Jupiter, 2007)



It had to go somewhere considering that I've played some variation of the Picross franchise for well over 100 hours and have eagerly bought each new entry as they've been released across the eShop.  DS is definitely the best of the bunch, though, putting the touch screen to good use and carrying over the series' format well with daily challenges, puzzles up to 25x20 in size and numerous minigames throughout.  Sometimes you just want something to space out for a bit and focus on something raw and logical, and for me, Picross will always fill that role perfectly.






98. SaGa Frontier (Square, 1998)

SaGa is definitely one of Square's less popular franchises, and it is easy to be overwhelmed by them at first - their unusual mechanics, free-roaming design and emphasis on setting over individual story make them much more akin to old CRPGs like Phantasie than a typical Japanese RPG.  I've always liked them for just that reason, though, and Frontier is my favorite of the bunch for its bizarre atmosphere and creative format - seven short stories set in the same overall world, and while characters and plot points occasionally overlap,  they're all self-contained and very unique.  From a woman finding herself in a bizarre new life with powers she never asked for to a supermodel framed for murder to an ancient robot trying to find his purpose, it's a game with a lot to offer.  It was infamously rushed, though, resulting in a lot of cut areas and some quests being much shorter than intended (and featuring stark difficulty leaps as a result), but a few flaws don't stop it from being a surreal and entertaining masterpiece.

97. Deus Ex (Ion Storm, 2000)

I know I'd get lynched if Deus Ex wasn't on the list somewhere, so here it is. And what a game, especially for 2000.  Retaining the free-form design philosophy of games like Ultima Underworld, the player is presented with a goal and exactly how they accomplish it is completely up to them - sneak in via rooftops and sewers, go in guns blazing, disable security via lockpicks and hacking or using your augmentations to bypass obstacles entirely, are all equally valid options.  Moreover, your choices would have a tangible impact on the story, affecting how scenes would play out later, and there were three different endings to experience (each tailored to a different playstyle), which lent it a fair bit of replay value. But more than anything else, the story and setting was what sold Deus Ex, thrusting the player into a grim dystopia where every big-government conspiracy was very real.  A memorable game on every front.


96. Wizardry 8 (Sir-Tech, 2001)

First person dungeon crawlers were practically a staple of PC gaming since its inception, with Wizardry being one of the very first released and winning a lot of acclaim for providing a strong D&D-like experience with impressive visuals despite the limited technology of the time.  Appropriate, then, that it would also more or less be the one to send the genre off twenty years later.  Wizardry 8 came out nine years after 7 and closed out the story that began in 6, giving the player several ways to start the adventure depending on how they completed the previous game, as well as three endings depending on how they completed this one.  More than that, though, it incorporated a lot of modern sensibilities as well, with detailed 3D environments, heavy class customization and freeform movement more reminiscent of something like Elder Scrolls and a much-streamlined interface over its predecessors.  Not to mention some impressively-produced cutscenes, voice acting and even a good soundtrack.  If you're an old-school RPG fan, this one has it all.

95. Lunar: Silver Star Story (Game Arts/Japan Art Media, 1999)


A remake of the brilliant Sega CD RPG, Lunar sported colorful graphics, impeccable design, a fantastic soundtrack and animation and voice acting on par with that of a big budget animated movie.  Not only was it voice acted, but the FMV scenes were fully animated, hand drawn and gorgeous to behold, even sporting some song numbers that rival many of the memorable Disney films in quality.  Pair that up with some brilliantly written characters, impeccable dialog and some very challenging gameplay and you have a truly unforgettable experience.  An absolute classic RPG that easily stands up as my favorite effort from both Game Arts and Working Designs to this day.

94. Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition (BioWare/BeamDog Software, 2000/2013)

Probably the best-known and beloved of the Infinity Engine games, and it isn't hard to see why - the game has a ton to offer with its 60+ playable classes, a great storyline with some very memorable characters (all of whom have their own questlines) and just some downright frantic combat, putting the high challenge of D&D into a game with plenty of creative tactics.  It can get frustrating at times with overpowered enemies that all but require using engine exploits to succeed (Beholders and Illithids in general) but as far as RPG experiences go, this is one of the best you're likely to find for D&D games.  As well as BioWare's best game by far.

93. Torchlight II (Runic Games, 2012)


Diablo III may have been an unmitigated disaster (in fact, to date it's the only game I've ever shipped back to the publisher and gotten a refund for), but where Blizzard falls flat, their former staff picks up the slack.  Torchlight II is a ridiculously fun action-RPG with tons of loot, online co-op, mod support (even online - double bonus!) and some creative innovations, like being able to send your pet back to town to get more potions and trade in loot so you don't have to stop fighting, and having loot drops tracked separately for each player so you can grab up whatever you please from enemies (and still have plenty to trade between other players or even your own characters).  It's just pure fun and I love it.

92. Worms: Armageddon (Team-17, 1999)

The third in the Worms series is not just regarded as its finest entry, but one of the best video games ever made.  You certainly won't hear me arguing against it, either, as it's a fantastic title.  With a huge variety of weapons (from Street Fighter style martial arts to grenades to grappling hooks to airstrikes to Concrete Donkeys) and an ever-changing Battlefield affected by wind and deformed by weapon blasts and player construction, there is a ton of variety to its design and enough strategy to keep you constantly entertained.  Moreso in its multi-player aspect, which let teams of up to eight worms Duke it out until only one was left standing. The ability to bulls one's own custom terrain was another cool bonus; after all, who doesn't want to blow up their own house at least once in the virtual arena?

91. Resident Evil 4 (Capcom, 2005)



Admittedly, I've never been much for horror games, survival ones in particular; their attempts to be scary mostly just come off as lame and their gameplay is so one-note and boring that they generally put me straight to sleep.  But Resident Evil 4 is definitely an exception, taking the puzzle-based gameplay of the earlier entries and kicking the action up to eleven.  The slow, lurching hordes of enemies, satisfying gun and melee combat make the action both tense and extremely satisfying, and some grotesque boss monsters add variety to the proceedings too.  That, plus some extra campaign content and the ever-fun Mercenaries mode, make it a game that simply never gets old to play.  It may be a divisive entry among long-time franchise fans, but regardless, it's a game you can start up at any time and have a blast playing.