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1/18/2016

Spoony's Top 100 Games, #70-61

70. Starflight (Binary Systems, 1986/1991)

A groundbreaking game in the mid-80s and still a standout one today, Starflight was amazing for the sheer amount of depth it provided; the player was given free reign to explore the galaxy, recover resources to sell, find inhabitable planets, interact with alien races (both diplomatically and in war), and generally carve out their own niche in a vast universe.  Of course, there was an underlying storyline as well, and a good one at that - the player's ultimate goal was to decipher clues found throughout their travels, unravel the mysteries of the galaxy, find out exactly why extinction-level events threaten every major star system they run across, and put a stop to it once and for all

69. Sin and Punishment: Successor of the Earth (Treasure, 2000 in Japan)


A game that was fully intended to be marketed toward an American audience and even given full English voice acting to that effect, but which sadly came too late in the Nintendo 64's life cycle to get a western release.  A real pity, that, as this is my favorite Treasure title of all time.  ...No really, it's that good.  Equal parts platformer, rail shooter and action anime, the game sports a surprisingly dark story paired with some of the craziest action setpieces put into any game as the player evades enemy attacks and shoots down swarms of jets, monsters and soldiers with their laser pistol/sword weapon.  And aims for a high score, of course.  It's grim, it's violent, it's crazy, and it's unbelievably fun from the first second to the last.  Fortunately, it later got a release on the Wii's Virtual Console, and even a Wii sequel that manages to be even more over the top and insane than this one.  Treasure, you are the best.  Get Bonus.

68. Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete (Game Arts, 1998)

I never could afford a Sega CD as a kid, so the groundbreaking Lunar games went completely over my head at the time.  Thankfully they got two very high-quality remakes on the Playstation, and when I played them I wasn't disappointed in the slightest.  Lunar 2, while I consider it the weaker of the two games, is still an extremely compelling experience, combining the feel of a good animated movie with some solid RPG mechanics and surprisingly good animation and voice acting for its era, not to mention a very strong love story as the focus of its plot.  Oh, and an absolutely stellar soundtrack, of course. I may not have had exposure to its original iteration until many years after the fact, but Lunar still stands as proof that the CD format could do a lot for the genre that the old memory-limited cartridges simply could not.

67. Puyo Puyo Tetris (Sonic Team, 2017)

I never imagined that we'd see a good game from Sonic Team of all companies as late as 2017, but I'm certainly not complaining, as Puyo Puyo Tetris is a fantastic title.  As the title implies, it fits Puyo Puyo (aka Kirby's Avalanche/Mean Bean Machine) and the legendary Tetris together in a variety of ways - one game versus the other, swapping back and forth, or even both pieces in the same play field - in a number of variants, and all supporting up to four players going head-to-head and even online play.  Two concepts that will probably never be surpassed in the realm of gaming for their simple, yet elegant gameplay, and they come together in surprisingly fine form here.

21. Might and Magic IV/V: World of Xeen (New World Computing, 1993)

Might and Magic is a  highly regarded franchise among PC gamers, mixing puzzle-solving, dungeon crawling and humor together to great effect.  Might and Magic III was the first to really reinvent the series, retaining the same classic first-person, turn-based gameplay but streamlining it in a number of ways - a cleverly designed graphical HUD that conveys all the information you need to stay on top of the action, a keyword-based loot system that would later be used in games like Diablo, and of course plenty of areas to explore, loot to find, puzzles to solve and a huge variety of monsters to battle both up-close and at range.  Xeen (comprised of parts 4 and 5) took things even further, combine two games into one huge adventure and adding in CD-based music, voiceover and animation to deliver an experience that looked and sounded great, played well and was amazingly fun.  Proof that dungeon crawlers could provide a ton of cerebral content while still retaining a fast pace and an impressive presentation.

65. Metal Slug X (SNK, 1999)


Metal Slug X is a somewhat more polished reimagining of Metal Slug 2, eliminating much of its slowdown while remixing its gameplay with new enemy patterns and a slightly different boss order.  For my money, though, it's also the best Metal Slug game ever made, with a perfect blend of design cues, destructible environments and that good old gorgeous 2D animation, not to mention one of the greatest final battles in video game history.  This really is a title that must be experienced for any fan of arcade action titles.




64. Metroid Fusion (Nintendo, 2002)


Metroid enjoyed a bit of a renaissance in the early 2000s thanks to Retro Studios' runaway hit Metroid Prime and a couple of top-notch releases on the Game Boy Advance.  The more controversial of the two was Metroid Fusion, which took on a much more dialog-heavy approach than its predecessors and also deigned to have - gasp! - linear game progression!  That didn't make it a bad game, though - far from it, in fact.  Metroid Fusion effectively captured the isolation of the earlier games, putting Samus alone against a space station full of creatures mutated by an aggressive alien virus and even an evil doppelganger that infected the remains of her original suit, resulting in an extremely dangerous new foe.  If Metroid and Super Metroid were homages to Alien, this one is an homage to The Thing - a much different experience, but no less good.

63. Saints Row IV (Volition, 2013)


Saints Row is a franchise that's undeniably gotten more and more ridiculous with each new sequel, slowly turning from a fairly straight GTA clone to a full-blown Tex Avery cartoon by the third game.  But in an era where so many game studios and franchises take themselves so damned seriously, I don't think that's a bad thing at all.  Saints Row IV in particular recognizes exactly what video games should be about - pure, campy fun.  From the joke-heavy dialog and outlandish storyline to the ridiculous weaponry (featuring things like a Black Hole Gun and a Dubstep Gun) to a plethora of over-the-top superpowers and exaggerated enemies, as well as some rather amusing satire of other contemporary games, Saints Row IV is pure entertainment that never wears out its welcome.  I honestly wish more games and developers had the courage to revel in their own silliness as much as Volition does.

62. Astro Boy: Omega Factor (Treasure/Hitmaker, 2004)


Not only my favorite Game Boy Advance game of all time, but one of the finest from the Sega, Hitmaker and Treasure camps to boot, Astro Boy is a great experience all around.  Combining numerous Osamu Tezuka characters into one enormous storyline, as well as several different gameplay styles (beat-em-up and scrolling shooter being the most prominent), Astro Boy is also a very challenging game.  But the real genius of it all is in its implementation - by finding characters, Astro Boy's "Omega Factor" develops, unlocking new abilities and upgrades.  A pretty clever way to explore the universe of Osamu Tezuka (which you really should anyway; the guy is a legend).

61: Quake (Id Software, 1997)


Every modern FPS owes much to Doom, but with apologies to that classic, I have to say I much prefer Quake these days.  It took some time to win me over, but after really taking in its atmosphere, gorgeously designed 3D maps, creepy enemies and relentlessly fast-paced design, it's pretty hard to go back.  Moreso when it has some fantastic addons like Arcane Dimensions and the two official expansion packs that expand upon the experience in some pretty amazing ways, adding new some of the most well-crafted new enemies, stages and bosses I've seen in any FPS.  Quake kicks ass and is the quintessential Id shooter from the 90s.