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Top 111 PC Games, #70-61

70. Cave Story (Pixel, 2004)

With the internet's explosion in popularity came an interest in indie games old and new, with sites like Newgrounds giving a lot of developers and fans a place to show off their talents and numerous abandonware sites archiving obscure and forgotten classics.  Cave Story is one that came to peoples' attention not long after its initial release in 2004, garnering a lot of attention for its high quality Metroid-like design, presentation reminiscent of 8 and 16-bit retro titles, having a surprisingly engrossing story and being created over the course of five years by a single developer.  Since then it's gotten tons of attention in the form of fan translations, ports to numerous platforms (official and otherwise), a slew of remakes, mods and source ports, and even a fan-created level editor.  

69. Rogue (A.I. Design, 1980)

A game that defined an entire genre, Rogue also has a long history itself, being created for old Unix mainframes in 1980 before getting ported to just about every commercial computer platform of the time, and it of course continues to get ports, remakes and copycats to this day owing to how popular and influential it is.  Rogue's procedurally generated dungeon floors, randomized enemies and loot (wands and potions have different effects each time you play, and equipment can randomly be cursed or enchanted, but you never know which in advance) keep it fresh and challenging, and even with its lack of graphics (everything being portrayed through ASCII symbols), it captures your imagination and keeps you hooked.  Lots of games have been built on its model - short but punishing dungeon dives with a heavy focus on random factors - but Rogue remains a highly regarded staple for good reason. 

68. Age of Empires II (Ensemble Studios, 1999)

Real Time Strategy games, or RTSes, were another genre that underwent a massive transformation in the '90s; from early and kinda clunky examples like Dune II all the way up to insanely popular online multiplayer titles like Starcraft that still have massive competitive appeal today.  Ensemble Studios threw their hat into the ring with Age of Empires, and it was a pretty innovative game in itself - think Warcraft with some Sid Meier's Civilization blended in and you've got a pretty good idea of what it's all about.  You gather resources, build up a base of operations with farms, storage, watch towers, docks for fishing and water travel, facilites to train troops and so forth, but you also advance through Ages to discover new tiers of technologies and get the edge on your opponents.   There are five campaigns following the rise and trials of various historical civilizations, but like Civ you can also play on a randomly generated map against other players and see who comes out on top.  AoE2 is a game so influential and well regarded that it's been remade twice now, and the franchise as a whole is still going strong today with a fourth mainline entry released in 2021 and various expansions coming out almost every year since the series debuted.

67. Sid Meier's Civilization IV (Firaxis Games, 2005)

Sid Meier's iconic Civilization series has always been a popular one, and many fans consider IV to be the height of the series.  It isn't hard to see why, either, as it takes everything great about its predecessors and improves it tenfold, even supporting player customization and a number of high-quality expansions (including a full remake of Sid Meier's Colonization).  Still, the core element remains much the same - build cities and armies, research new technologies, build world wonders, and reach one of the win conditions before your opponents do.  But as the old saying goes: Don't fix what ain't broken!  Plus, it has Leonard Nimoy doing the narration; you can't argue with that kind of awesome.

66. The Curse of Monkey Island (LucasArts, 1997)

The Monkey Island series is a beloved classic among adventure game fans; following the exploits of the bumbling wannabe-pirate Guybrush Threepwood, he seeks to win the affections of Elaine Marley and frequently clashes with his nemesis, the evil undead pirate LeChuck.  Curse was easily the series' most impressive entry, with a fresh style, plenty of animated cutscenes and perfectly cast voiceover complementing the humor throughout.  The scenarios are as absurd as ever - this time with Guybrush trying to reverse a voodoo curse he's unintentionally afflicted Elaine with - and that of course lends itself to plenty of laughs.  The interface was newly reworked too, using a simpler "verb coin" with three general commands instead of the array of commands from earlier SCUMM games.  The puzzles definitely didn't suffer for it, though; you're still in for a challenge, especially in "Mega Monkey" mode.

65. Ys III: The Oath in Felghana (Nihon Falcom, 2005)

A remake of 1991's Wanderers from Ys, though it did away with the controversial rework into a sidescrolling platformer design and went for the more fast-paced action Ys became known for.  They take the same engine from Ark of Napishtim and rework it substantially to further emphasize the combat, with some downright crazy, fast-paced platforming and combat that requires well-timed dodges, strikes and effective use of all your moves to survive, and actually encouraging you to blast through enemies as quickly as possible with cumulative attack, defense and experience bonuses.  And of course, the game's music is simply phenomenal, with a hard rock/metal bent to typical fantasy soundtracks.

64. Sam & Max Hit the Road (LucasArts, 1993)

One of the many LucasArts point-and-click adventure games that surfaced in the 80s and 90s, and still regarded as one of the best in the genre even today.  Sam and Max was nothing short of hilarious with its kitschy American setting, irreverent protagonists and some surprisingly good voiceover throughout adding to the ridiculous scenarios.  They worked in quite a few minigames too - some required to progress while others are just for fun.  As popular and successful as it was, it was little surprise that people were pining for a followup; however despite numerous attempts one never actually came to be until 2006, when Telltale Games got ahold of the license and produced three episodic sequels.

63. Horizon's Gate (Rad Codex, 2020)

A game that has been described by many as "Final Fantasy Tactics by way of Uncharted Waters", and upon playing it, I can certainly confirm that is indeed the case.  You build a character, take part in turn-based battles both on foot and by sea, unlock new classes as the game progresses, and can basically explore, trade or become a privateer at your leisure, taking part in ship battles or legitimate business to earn loot for later upgrades.  Inventory management and item manipulation is simple as can be too, using a keyboard-and-mouse interface that reminds me more than a bit of the classic Ultimas.  It's certainly not the deepest example of anything it attempts to be, but it is a lot of fun, and really, that's what I come to a game for anyway.  Sacrilege, I know.

62. Doom II (id Software, 1994)

Doom was an enormous game-changer and hugely successful when it was released in 1993, so of course sequels, engine licenses and countless copycats soon followed.  Doom II was released less than a year after the original game, and while it doesn't change up the formula too greatly, does it really need to?  Not really.  Just add in a new weapon (the Super Shotgun - quite deadly at close range but considerably less so at a distance), a few new enemy types and 32 new stages, and you've got another top selling game.  The game also had an official expansion called "Master Levels for Doom II" featuring several high quality user-created maps, and a standalone expansion called "Final Doom" that added 64 new stages to overcome.

61. Epic Pinball (Digital Extremes, 1993)

While I'm not really a big fan of video pinball games, a few have managed to grab my attention over the years due to their brilliant execution.  Epic Pinball is definitely one of them, impressing me with its high-fidelity and colorful graphics, fantastic music and the sheer variety it brings to the proceedings; the CD version of the game includes a whopping 13 tables to play on.  They also match a variety of themes, from race cars to futuristic androids to a bizarre, threadbare table called the "Enigma" that awards bonuses based on a cryptic set of conditions.  Good stuff all around, whether you're a pinball fanatic or not.