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1/17/2016

Spoony's Top 100 Games, #80-71

80. Super Mario Sunshine (Nintendo, 2002)


The first proper "sequel" to Super Mario 64 in format, but it didn't end up being anywhere near as popular due to its high difficulty level and somewhat unpolished feel (with a heavy emphasis on tedious coin hunting).  Still, for all its problems, Mario Sunshine was an extremely fun game that brought many new elements to the table - Yoshi's return granted the player access to new areas and abilities, and the FLUDD backpack added a new dimension to the gameplay that allowed Mario to defeat enemies and new ways and explore the environment by functioning as a jetpack of sorts.  Of course, at its core there's still plenty of that challenging platforming the series built itself upon, too.  Mario Sunshine may not be the most beloved Mario game, but I always found it to be worthwhile nonetheless.

79. Grandia II (Game Arts, 2000)


An overlooked RPG if there ever was one, though I can't blame people too much for that - its initial release was on the Dreamcast and the PS2 and PC ports that followed a couple years after left much to be desired.  However, I am glad it's getting more recognition in recent days, as Grandia II, like the others in the series, is a fantastic experience.  A darker tale than the first for sure, but it retains its innovative combat system that allowed turns to be delayed or cancelled entirely with well-placed attacks.  And of course, some excellent music and surprisingly good VO for the era add much to the experience as well.

78. 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.

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. Space Harrier (Sega, 1985)


It's hard to believe that this game is almost as old as I am, since it conveys a feeling of three-dimensional depth and speed that easily rivals games released years after the fact.  Its gameplay is fairly straightforward shoot-em-up fare, but the sheer number of sprites on screen at a time, as well as the scaling effects, smooth motion and sheer frequency for which things fly at you, is downright exhilarating.  The strange science fantasy landscapes you blaze through throughout the game are also a joy to behold.  The game was so far ahead of its time that it couldn't be properly conveyed on a home console for nearly a decade after the fact, and even then you had to buy one of those crummy 32X addons to play it!  Thankfully, we now have a much better alternative in the 3DS port of the game, which adds in some new features like a proper final boss battle and analog controls to make it true to the arcade version.

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. 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.




73. Grandia III (Game Arts, 2006)


A late-comer to the Playstation 2 game, and it didn't get a whole lot of attention as a result.  Which is a real shame, as this is one of Game Arts' finest titles.  Taking the fantastic, action-driven combat of Grandia and pushing it up to eleven, Grandia III's combat also has the player juggling enemies into the sky for massive damage and bonuses, and the fluid feel of it all makes combat in the game an absolute joy.  Of course, you also had a surprisingly strong story beneath it all thanks to Game Arts' impeccable writing team.  This really was a case of a game company giving a project their all, but just not getting the recognition they deserved from it...

72. Saturn Bomberman (Hudson Soft, 1997)


The greatest Bomberman game of all time, as well as one of the best multiplayer experiences ever made, for one simple reason: Ten way multiplayer.  Yes, up to ten players can leap into the fray and try to blow each other up with a plethora of powerups in an ever-closing arena full of fire and mayhem.  Granted, it'll cost you quite a bit to get that experience; a Sega Saturn, two Saturn multitaps, a copy of a rare and expensive game, and of course enough controllers to go around, but is it worth it to have an incredibly entertaining romp with nine friends?  You bet it is.



71. 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.