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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. Marvel's Spider-Man (Insomniac Games, 2018)


The Batman Arkham franchise may have started a golden age of superhero video games, but Marvel's Spider-man took that format and pushed everything in it up to 11.  The game looks amazing, has some killer voiceover (even with different takes depending on what Spider-man's actually doing during dialog), and it plays fantastically well - taking down bad guys, sneaking through security and traps and just gliding around the city are all buttery-smooth and exquisitely fun.  Not to mention a great storyline that pays homage to the character and everything that makes Spider-man great whilst pulling no punches in its emotional moments, and even some fantastic DLC missions.  Superhero games have been around since gaming's earliest days, but Marvel's Spider-Man stands as one of the very best ever made (and will long into the future).

68. Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete (Game Arts, 2000)

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. Shadowrun: Dragonfall/Hong Kong (Harebrained Schemes, 2014/2015)

The second and third games in the rebooted Shadowrun franchise, and easily my favorite ones so far, expanding on everything the original brought to the table while losing nothing that made it great.  The story is nothing short of brilliant, bringing together a cast of diverse and complex characters to solve the mystery of their friend's death and the underlying conspiracy behind it.  Throughout the game, every choice you make seems to be the wrong one, making you new enemies and seemingly digging you deeper into a pit you can't escape from, while the combat only gets more intense with enemies bringing out bigger guns, setting up nastier traps and summoning bigger monsters to get in your way.  Stellar stuff all around, and a perfect example of how to do a grim, atmospheric game experience right.

66. Puyo Puyo Tetris (Sonic Team, PS4/Switch/PC)

Two classic competitive puzzle games end up together, and the result, as expected, is great.  While one can play the two games individually, there are also a number of variants that combine them - pitting one game against the other, swapping between two distinct playing fields every twenty-five seconds, or even having both Puyos and Tetriminoes in the same play field.  Another mode known as "Party Mode" exists too, with blocks that enable powerups for the current player or hinder the other players, such as giving them Pentaminoes (five-piece blocks), causing faster block drops or limiting their viewpoint.  There's a ton of variety here, and with four-player couch competitive play and online support, it's a stellar experience both solo and with friends.

65. Marvel VS Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes (Capcom, 2000)

Even as someone who was blown away by the early Marvel-Capcom crossover games, Marvel VS Capcom 2 managed to impress me on a level no other fighter had (and few others have since).  With a roster of 56 playable characters, comprised of every character from previous crossover games and a handful of new ones, the same fast-paced gameplay that never misses a beat and teams of three (who can call in the other two characters to assist or chain Hyper Combos together for huge damage), the game is just a blast to play.  I'm not a huge fan of the bizarre CGI backgrounds or the strange light jazz soundtrack they got for this crazy crossover fight, but in terms of gameplay it's still among the best fighters ever made.

64. 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.




63. 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.

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.