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Top 101 PC Games #80-71

80. 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 took the series in a bold new direction with a fresh visual 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.

79. Freedom Planet (GalaxyTrail, 2014)

Beginning life as a Sonic the Hedgehog fangame, Freedom Planet quickly turned into something grander - an homage to Sega Genesis era action games in general, working in elements of games like Rocket Knight Adventures and a dash of Treasure style action as well.  There are three playable characters - Sash Lilac (who has a speed dash and a spinning cyclone), Carol Tea (who fights with short-ranged claw swipes and can ride a motorcycle that both makes her faster and gives her stronger attacks) and Milla Basset (who can hover for short distances as well as summon magical barriers and cubes, which serve as both projectiles and a short-ranged but powerful burst attack).  The fast-paced action and fluid animation also fit the aesthetic perfectly, creating a game that's flashy and intense and whose puzzles don't intrude on the fast pace.

78. Abuse (Crack dot Com, 1996)

A run-and-gun shooter that plays like one part Contra, one part Doom and one part Smash TV, Abuse was like nothing else on PC at the time.  Basically a 2D platformer with 360-degree movement and aiming via the mouse, the game took advantage by having enemies be fast and ruthless and come at you from every angle, quickly overwhelming you if you weren't careful.  Of course, it also took cues from games like Doom with multiple hidden secrets and powerups to find in each stage and even a few alternate pathways to discover. Its source code has also been released, allowing it to get ports to multiple platforms, so there's no excuse to not check out Abuse. 

77. Simcity 3000 (Maxis, 1999)

Simcity was of course enormously popular and Simcity 2000 even moreso, so 3000 had quite big shoes to fill to live up to its legacy; moreso because it was the first game in the series that Will Wright wasn't involved in creating.  They did an admirable job, though - initially planned to be in full 3D, those plans were eventually scrapped and the game went back to a 2D style, giving it a substantial visual overhaul and larger maps to compensate.  One prominent new element is that you now have to implement trash collection services for your city, and you have the option to make business deals with neighboring cities - either to offload some of your own problems at a cost or take on some of theirs for extra revenue.  You'll also get proposals for things like golf courses, maximum security prisons or casinos, which bring in a substantial amount of cash but often come with a sizable hit to land value, crime or pollution.  The Unlimited expansion (released under many different names depending on the region) also adds in numerous real-life landmarks to decorate your cities with and even an easy-to-use editor to create your own, letting you craft some enormous and beautiful looking cities.  It may not have been a huge leap over 2000 in terms of design, but when it's so well made and fun, I certainly won't complain.

76. SimTower/Yoot Tower (OpenBook/OPeNBooK9003, 1994/1998)

Despite the name, SimTower technically isn't part of the Maxis software toy line.  Rather, it was developed by Yutaka "Yoot" Saito, released in Japan as "The Tower" and published by Maxis in the rest of the world using their Sim brand.  It was an easy mistake to make though, considering it can aptly be described as "SimCity on a smaller scale".  You build an ever-expanding tower, provide it amenities like condos, apartment buildings, fast food chains, offices and so forth, keep them all connected via stairs and elevators, and try to manage the chaos that inevitably results.  Tenants complain about noise, lengthy trips to their dwellings and roach infestations (and may move out if they're not fixed) and various disasters can strike at random, like fires or terrorists planting bombs and demanding a hefty ransom.  The sequel, localized by Sega as "Yoot Tower", is more of the same, though with new amenities to build and several scenarios with distinct goals, like a tourist resort at Kegon Falls and a Hawaiian hotel.  A number of expansions were released in Japan centered on new locations like the Statue of Liberty and Kyoto Station which likewise have their own amenities and sets of goals to meet, but sadly none of these ever got brought over.  An unfortunately never-patched bug in the Windows version also causes the program to crash whenever you load a save for the Kegon Falls scenario, so play the Mac version of Yoot Tower if at all possible.

75. Shadowgate (Zojoi, 2014)

An updated remake of the classic point-and-click adventure game from the 1980s, Shadowgate's 2014 iteration was downright inspired.  The game's narrative was significantly expanded over its predecessor, new puzzles and obstacles were added, and elements of the original were changed up a lot, meaning that the old solutions to  puzzles no longer work (and, in fact, will frequently result in your death).  The game also features multiple difficulty levels that further shuffle puzzles and clues as well as lend some replay value to a genre largely lacking in it.  And of course, the remixed music and updated visuals effectively portray a grim atmosphere that only makes the game's story even more compelling.  Bring on the remake of Beyond Shadowgate!

74. I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream (CyberDreams, 1995)

A point-and-click adventure based on the Harlan Ellison story, which sparked quite a lot of controversy for its twisted themes that depicted all the worst elements of humanity.  While the protagonists are far from innocent (one notably being a Nazi doctor with a story set in a death camp), its themes of redemption and overcoming failure won out, turning it into a very compelling story even if its puzzles were not always the best and the voice acting was, as per the period, mediocre (save for AM, voiced by Ellison himself, who is clearly having a lot of fun with the role).  It's recently gotten a number of modern ports thanks to Nightdive, and the original is playable in both DOSBox and ScummVM, so it's well worth a look for fans of good stories.

73. Castle of the Winds (Saadasoft, 1993)

Dungeon crawlers have always been a pretty PC-centric genre; various attempts at creating them on consoles have always been met with relatively lukewarm reception (Chocobo's Dungeon, Nightmare of Druaga) or relegation to cult classic status at best (Etrian Odyssey).  Out of all of the games in this vast genre, though, Castle of the Winds has to be one of my favorites, in no small part because it manages to be relatively easy to pick up and play while retaining the challenge the genre is known for.  Simplistic yet charming Windows 3.1 visuals, a window-based interface and a relatively bare-bones yet still captivating story also make it an enjoyable experience, and let's be honest, it's always fun carving your way through an entire swath of ogres or giants and emerging victorious with enough loot to buy a luxurious mansion, only to spend it on some better equipment instead.

72. Organ Trail (The Men Who Wear Many Hats, 2010)

A game which is very clearly a parody of/tribute to the classic "The Oregon Trail", though it does much to set itself apart too and become a fine title in its own right.  Visually it resembles its predecessor with its low-color visuals and hatched graphics to simulate shading in particular scenes, but gameplay-wise it's a very different beast.  Instead of a wagon you drive a beaten-up car, and you'll frequently have to choose between different routes, fend off attacking bikers or hordes of zombies, and occasionally shoot it out with bandits.  Radiation, infection and vehicle breakdowns are constant threats, and scavenging enough supplies to make it to the end are an endeavor in themselves.  A game that melds humor, grim atmosphere and a constant sense of unease and uncertainty together in perfect fashion, Organ Trail is a fine homophonic homage.

71. Heretic (Raven Software, 1994)

As popular as Doom was, it was little surprise that it would get a number of spinoff games and engine licenses.  Heretic is definitely one of the more memorable ones, taking the basic monster-blasting, puzzle-solving format of Doom and putting a coat of dark fantasy on everything.  Golems, axe-throwing skeleton knights, sorcerers and demons, among many others, stand in your way, while you get several weapons like a magic staff, a triple-firing crossbow, a fireball-launching mace and my personal favorite, gauntlets that launch lightning at your enemies.  More than that, though one could actually pick up many powerups and use them when needed, rather than being forced to activate and use them right then and there.  From temporary flight to powering up all of one's weapons to simply restoring a bit of health on-demand, they were all quite handy to have.