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1/17/2016

Spoony's Top 100 Games, #80-71

80. Tyrian 2000 (Eclipse Software, 2000)

I've never been a big fan of shmups, but Tyrian 2000 is definitely an exception, providing challenging gameplay with plenty of pop.  Drawing inspiration from the likes of R-Type and Zanac while introducing many elements of its own, Tyrian has a lot to offer.  In addition to a story mode that has you collecting points to purchase ship upgrades, there are other clever game modes like an Arcade mode that lets you collect powerups and input Street Fighter style moves to do special attacks, minigames like "Destruct" (an artillery combat game similar to Scorched Earth or Worms), plenty of alternate paths and hidden content and a strong sense of humor.  All in all, just a fun, kickass game for the PC platform; it's a pity Eclipse Software never made more games after this one.

79. One Step From Eden (Thomas Moon Kang, 2020)

A crazily addictive little title that combines Mega Man Battle Network's combat with the wrappings of a roguelike - randomized events and rewards from battle, shuffling enemies and boss types, and every single decision you make feeling like the wrong one.  Basically, you pick a character (each of which has several variants with different starting loadouts and a unique weapon), steadily build up a deck and try to make your way through increasingly tough waves of enemies, hitting the occasional shop or rescue mission to try and tilt the odds further in your favor.  Simple enough at first, but you really do have to be on point as the boss battles start to ramp up, as they can very quickly whittle down your health and bring your run to an end.  As with any good game of this type, you do steadily unlock more things as you play more and more and you're given plenty of options to experiment with, so while the game is short, the replay value is strong.   Even moreso with the PC version, which supports modding (and appropriately has several Battle Network characters on Steam workshop already).

78. Skullgirls: Second Encore (Autumn Games/Lab Zero/M2, 2012)

A sleeper title that slowly built it way up to becoming a cult classic, Skullgirls is a great fast-paced fighting game with some fantastic hand-drawn animation, very creative character designs and surprisingly innovative elements - infinite combo protection, virtually no unblockable attacks, and surprisingly robust rollback netcode that makes playing online a breeze even without a high-end connection.  Even the story is great, which is pretty rare in the fighting game genre; it hits the perfect blend of humor and drama and ends up being extremely memorable.  It may never be as big as Street Fighter or Tekken or (ugh) Smash, but it's the one I'd much rather play any day of the week. 

77. Marvel VS Capcom: Clash of Heroes (Capcom, 1998)

An arcade game I must have sunk well over $50 into during a class field trip, and I don't regret it one bit as this game is just as fun now as it was then. The incredible presentation and visuals (including some clever interactive stages), plethora of hidden characters, amazing soundtrack and intense gameplay are all honed to perfection here, and of course it features the star of one of my favorite franchises of all time (Mega Man) as a playable character, which was a huge plus. It may be largely overshadowed by its sequels, but to me, the original Marvel VS Capcom is over-the-top fun at its most pure.

76. Final Fantasy VII (Squaresoft, 1997)


A divisive game among series fans, and while I have some mixed feelings about it myself, I can't deny that it's a game that made a huge impact, both on me and on gaming as a whole.  A cinematic experience with stunning visuals (for the time), amazing music, a wonderful central storyline and an amazing cast of characters; I'll never forget the complex, flawed protagonist Cloud, nor the chilling and wicked Sephiroth and his unsettling alien puppetmaster, Jenova.  The gameplay is a bit less well-polished, but consistently entertaining, and the integration of numerous minigames and sub-quests added a lot of variety to the experience.  It may have been followed by a plethora of mediocre spinoffs and knockoffs and  later entries in the series may have improved upon its design in numerous ways, but 7 will always hold a special place.

75. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age (Playstation 4/PC, 2017)


Final Fantasy XII in its original form was kind of a mixed bag; while it had an amazing world to explore and some fantastic characters, its gameplay was rather dull, with little variety between the cast (especially as they all work off of the same skill pool) and an overall slow pace.  Zodiac Age addresses both of these by introducing something of a job system to the game, as well as having a fast forward feature and immediate access to new post-game content (in particular the ability to dual-class once a character's first class is maxed out).  A game that mixes the best elements of western CRPGs and Japanese RPGs together into one awesome package.

74. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (Konami, 1997)


While it wasn't the first game in the franchise to utilize an open-world style of exploration (that being the relatively unpopular Castlevania II), Symphony of the Night was the game that took it to perfection.  Giving the player tons of options and abilities, as well as an enormous castle environment to explore, ensured that Symphony of the Night is a widely played game that still enjoys a massive cult following to this day.  While I never was a big fan of the Castlevania franchise, there's no denying that SOTN is a very worthwhile endeavor for the sheer amount of gameplay it offers - challenge runs, speedruns, or just casual playthroughs are all a blast in this one.  Oh, and it's got some really kickass visuals and music to boot.

73. Diablo II (Blizzard Entertainment, 2000)


The followup to Blizzard's mega-hit Diablo, the second game in the franchise upped the ante in almost every way.  Featuring faster gameplay, a choice of five new classes (seven in the expansion) each with their own variety of skill sets and equipment choices, and of course a plethora of new quests, items, bosses and challenges to undertake.  It also featured multiplayer for up to eight simultaneous players, who could choose to tackle dungeons, gain levels or just duke it out in battles to the death.  Other new features, like "Rune words" and the ability to combine items and reroll equipment properties would also become staples of other games in the genre.  Once again, a major hit for Blizzard that continues to be fun even today.  There are even a few killer fan mods available for those tired of the stock game.


72. 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.

71.  Rocket Knight Adventures (Konami, 1993)

Mascot platformers were a bit of a fad in the 90s, with every company wanting to create their own Sonic the Hedgehog in order to capitalize on his runaway success.  Most attempts were mediocre to outright terrible, but Konami's take outshined even its source material.  That was Rocket Knight Adventures, starring an opossum with a jetpack taking on an army of pigs who wielded giant robots and war machines aplenty.  It also perfectly highlighted the capabilities of the Genesis with its colorful visuals, fluid animations and fast-paced battles, particularly near the end of the game, as well as an excellent soundtrack that highlighted that the Genesis could easily hold its own against the SNES.  The only letdown is that none of its sequels were anywhere near as good as the original game...