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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. Balloon Fight (Nintendo, 1986)


As far as the old "arcadey" style NES games go, Balloon Fight is easily my favorite, taking the basic gameplay of Joust and putting a few welcome improvements on things.  The gameplay is fast-paced, the physics feel just right and the concept is simple (clear the screen of enemies without letting your own balloons pop) but quickly becomes quite a challenge; enemies become quite aggressive, obstacles like spinning flippers and lightning bolts get in your way, and if you stay in one spot too long, you might just get eaten by a giant fish in the water and instantly lose a life.  Simple, but addictive fun that I can easily lose a few hours two every time I pop it in.  Oh, and if you want a whole new level of challenge, check out the arcade version - VS Balloon Fight, which features double-height levels and significantly faster gameplay.

98. Sonic CD (Sega, 1993)

Sonic is something of a lightning rod in the gaming consciousness; you either adore the franchise's fluid animation and fast paced gameplay or you just view the character as a dated relic of the 90s whose relevance has long since faded away. It's a little of both columns for me, as once his golden years on the Genesis faded his games have all been mediocre-to-terrible and high on the cringe factor.  However, I do still hold the 16-bit Sonics in high regard, and on that front, Sonic CD gets my vote for best of the bunch.  Working a clever new gimmick into the mix (time travel!) and creative puzzle-based bosses without disrupting the sense of speed, and having a top notch audio/visual presentation thanks to the CD hardware, Sonic CD is just a damn fun time.

97.  Bubble Bobble (Taito, 1986)


Games definitely had a weird sense of imagination to them in the 1980s that was unmatched by almost any other era, and that is perhaps nowhere more evident than in Bubble Bobble, an arcade game where you play as a dinosaur who traps his enemies in bubbles and pops them to turn them into fruits for bonus points.  Racking up big enough scores in levels also allows you to collect a huge variety of powerups, from rapid fire bubbles to magic wands that call down lightning to speed shoes, which in turn allow you to get on a roll and rack up even higher scores at an incredible rate once you start getting them consistently.  It's pure lunacy, but tremendous fun, especially in two-player co-op (which is also necessary to get the best ending in the game).  Most of the home ports are surprisingly solid (the Sega Master System version being my favorite), but the arcade is definitely the best of all.

96. Bangai-o Spirits (Treasure, 2008)


Not a direct continuation of the Dreamcast cult classic, but nevertheless continuing in its tradition of wild, over-the-top action, Bangai-o Spirits takes things in the logical direction - more weapons, more enemy types, and tons and tons of explosions to the point where the Nintendo DS's hardware can't keep up a lot of the time (and frequently has to pause for a few seconds in order to parse the sheer number of objects being put into play).  Regardless of that and its intense difficulty at times, Bangai-o Spirits is a blast, having the player clear out stages and - more importantly - design their own and distribute their challenges to other players, with no Nintendo Wi-Fi service required.

95. Super Mario 3D World (Nintendo, 2013)


There's always a ton of debate about which 3D Mario is the best.  This one isn't my personal pick (that's coming up later), but it's certainly among them.  3D World takes elements of the classic 2D Mario games and puts them in the third dimension in the best way possible, with gorgeous cartoon graphics, four playable characters with slightly different abilities (a la Mario 2) and shared-screen couch co-op to add even more fun to the game.  True to the games it draws inspiration from, there are also classic powerups in the form of fire flowers and mushrooms and a clever new one in the cat suit, which allows for long-distance dives and claw swipes to defeat enemies, and the sheer number of hidden secrets to find makes this game just a blast to roam around in.  Classic Mario can't be topped for wonderful platforming action.

94. 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.









93. Phantasy Star II (Sega, 1989)


In an era where JRPGs mostly consisted of "the grind", Phantasy Star II dared to take things to a new level, introducing a grim atmosphere, themes of betrayal and hubris, and some surprisingly memorable characterizations to the mix, which only added to the tension as the story proceeded.  Of course, there is still plenty of challenge along the way - enemies are numerous and dangerous, and dungeons are frequently large mazes of teleporters and walls that require a lot of patience to traverse, even with the included guidebook that provided maps of every one.  There is still quite a bit of grinding required, but the compelling story and the streamlined combat system ensure that it never gets too tedious, as does it having one of my all-time favorite endings.

92. Silhouette Mirage (Treasure, 1997/1998/2000)


A relatively overlooked Treasure title, but I can't blame people too much for that as its only western release was handled by Working Designs, who made some rather controversial changes to the mechanics in an effort to make the game "harder", with fans of the original release generally considering it a butchered port.  Still, those who had a chance to play one of the Japanese versions (either the 2D powerhouse Saturn version or the Playstation version with some added content) found a lot to enjoy.  Treasure's unique blend of wild action, colorful visuals and crazy characters, as well as some interesting mechanics (with your character's "polarity" switching whenever they face the opposite direction, affecting what attacks they can block or must avoid) makes this an unconventional, but highly entertaining experience.

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.