With so many games out there, sometimes it’s hard to know which to play first. Luckily for you, though, the crew here at Capsule have played our fair share of games and are here to help you. For the next few weeks, we’ll be rolling out the list of 100 games you must play before you die. Whether it be for the graphics, story, narrative, or the impact that specific game had on the overall industry or players, these 100 games should be put on every gamer’s list.
NB: The games mentioned are not in a specific rank. Every title is randomly selected.
1. Spyro: Year of the Dragon
Release date: 2000
Nominated by: Jack Joly
Spyro: Year of the Dragon (or Spyro 3: Year of the Dragon/Spyro 3 as it is sometimes known) was the third iteration in a wonderful new series which followed the adventures of a young purple dragon, and rested alongside Crash Bandicoot as top platformer on a Sony system. It was one of the first games I owned for my PlayStation and going back to play the others before it, you realise it had built on the lessons learnt in previous games to make the perfect Spyro.
Spyro: Year of the Dragon was just so well designed, seeing you traverse numerous themed worlds collecting baby dragon eggs which had fallen into the evil clutches of the Rhinos in order to save the dragon population from extinction. But as well as this wonderful system which had you completing each challenge or finding secret locations to add another egg to your tally, you had gems to collect in each level: it was a completionists dream, and rather than feeling like a drag, collecting all collectibles brought with it a sense of achievement due to the way each zone was broken down into its own dragon eggs and gems.
The magic of Spyro: Year of the Dragon was lost when Spyro made the jump to next gen in Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly, and the series hasn’t been half as good since. Do yourself a favour if you want to see Spyro in top form and whip out one of the PS1 classics.
2. Half Life 2
Platform: PC/Xbox/Xbox 360/PS3/Mac
Release date: 2004
Nominated by: Luke Halliday
Without a doubt one of the greatest games of all time, Half Life 2, takes everything that worked with Half Life 1 and gave it a shot of adrenaline. Valve has created a game that legitimately earns the title of an epic game. Everything about this game is epic, whether it be the grand story, the interlinking stories of all the characters, the epic journey through-out one of the most memorable video game worlds ever created, Half Life 2 from start to finish is a master class in what video games can truly be if given nothing but good old fashioned love and care. If you have never played Half Life 2, make sure you do before you bite the dust, because after all, the right man in the wrong place can make all the difference in the world.
3. Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus
Platform: PS1, PC
Release date: 1998
Nominated by: Alexis Ayala
Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus, the follow-up to Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysey, like many (initial) sequels in the world of games is the true gem of the series. Lorne Lanning, the director, designer, writer and voice actor is a true auteur of the gaming world. The Oddworld series of games were designed to combine storytelling, animation and interactivity in ways that he thought weren’t apparent in the industry at the time. Creating a 2D game during a time when 3D games were new and ruling the roost while 2D was considered a faux pas took a lot of balls, but Lanning stated that he didn’t want to sacrifice how he envisioned the games to look by creating them in 3D. If you’ve taken a look at some titles from that era I’d say he was on to something. Abe’s Exoddus is just as powerful and beautiful of a game today as it was when it was first released over a decade ago. The story picks up where Abe’s Oddysey left off as Abe continues his quest to save his fellow Mudokon’s from being enslaved by big industry. You do this by communicating to them and giving directions while you make a path that’s safe for them to travel through and exit via portals. Story is a big part of the Oddworld games as it’s clearly making stands talking about consumerism, work ethics and industry destroying culture.
Oddworld received numerous awards regarding it’s art direction and in-game cinematics, which were run in indie film festivals. Regarding game design it was also ahead of it’s time by having no heads up display and directed the player through tutorials that were embedded in the environment, never breaking you from the game. Abe’s Exoddus is a bonafide classic that anyone would be unfortunate to miss. It’s an evergreen title that has aged beautifully and I implore anyone to check it out. You won’t regret it.
4. The Sims
Genre: Life simulation
Release date: 2000
Nominated by: Mike Irving
It seems that everyone played The Sims at some point in their gaming life, and everyone did so differently. Don’t be put off by the fact that it’s essentially just a life simulator, it’s a fantastic example of emergent gameplay. Players create a person or family and lead them through all the important and mundane moments of their existence. Help them find a career and love, manage finances and friendships, raise children or crops. Or don’t. Make them sit on the couch all day eating chips and watching TV, until all their furniture is repossessed and their kids are taken by welfare.
The game not only catered for but encouraged varied play styles, and people found a lot of reasons to play. Some liked to re-create themselves and their family and try to help them succeed. Some liked to completely mess up a family with bad choices. Others preferred an architecture focus, building and decorating houses, without caring who lived in them.
Personally, I played for the game’s capacity for creating stories. I used the in-game ability to organise screenshots into a photo album to create detailed family histories. I was so into it that soon my friends would actually check in to see what had happened to my Sims since the last time they were over, and I would flick through the album and explain the details of who was sleeping with who, who had died, had kids, all that soap opera stuff.
Few games had the simplicity and scope of The Sims, or the universal appeal, which all probably account for its success. Even my Dad, who has pretty much never played a game before or since, got into it for a while – until I bricked his Sim up in the wall and let him starve to death. Don’t judge me, ’twas the style at the time.
5. Angry Birds
Platform: Pretty much everything these days, but mostly iPhone and Android!
Release date: 2009
Nominated by: Matt Vella
Bro, it’s Angry Birds! Angry Birds is the Pacman of the 21st century, and it’s a sin to own a smartphone that doesn’t have Angry Birds on it. Not owning a golden egg should be punishable by death, whether you are a casual gamer OR a hardcore gamer! While most home console games you may enjoy for a few months then move on to only online play, if that, Angry Birds stays with you for life. This title has got about a bazillion-gillian people addicted, thanks to it’s 30 second level game play, so you can grab a quick game while your doing a variety of things, such as:
-Waiting for a YouTube video to load
-While you’re on the bus, train or in traffic lights
-While you’re cooking a pizza
-While you’re waiting in line to use the bathroom
-While you’re in the line at Maccas
-While you’re being yelled at by your boss for playing Angry Birds at work
-While you’re making out with your girlfriend/boyfriend/Angry Birds plush toy, whatever!
-While you’re being dumped by your girlfriend/boyfriend/Angry Birds plush toy for ignoring them all the time cause you won’t stop playing Angry Birds…
Seriously, the possibilities are endless!
6. Demon Souls
Platform: Playstation 3
Release date: 2009
Nominated by: Kelly Teng
Those who complain about how games are getting so easy that even a monkey can play it…you obviously haven’t played Demon Souls. Dubbed as one of the most difficult games out there, Demon Souls took the basic elements of an action-RPG and turned it on its own head: while normally, death in a video-game means little in terms of consequences, Demon Souls had a very realistic take on the matter. Each death impacts your character’s health and you lose all the souls you’ve collected. If you win your battle and return to your bloodstain where you died, you can regain your souls; otherwise they are gone forever…and that’s just one aspect of gameplay.
Demon Souls is a title that begs to be played and requires a different style of thinking and gameplay to many other titles. For that reason alone, it’s definitely worth giving it a shot.
7. Tony Hawk Pro Skater
Release date: 1999
Nominated by: Darren Resnekov
When Tony Hawk Pro Skater was released on PSOne 12 years ago, it blew our minds and finally gave skaters the first chance to really have their sport represented by a console onscreen. I remember playing for eons, mastering backflips and special tricks not listed in the manual. Featuring the likes of Tony Hawk, Rune Glifberg and Bob Burnquist, skaters and gamers rejoiced alike. Remembering this was 1999, this game had everything from the ability to mod your character out in ridiculous outfits that became a trademark of the game to near impossible tricks and missions.
While the environments weren’t as expansive as todays open sandbox style of play, it’s important for gamers today to see the roots and development of the titles they take for granted. These games took years of development to perfect, and didnt just appear in the form we currently enjoy them. Tony Hawk has a special place for me, which is why I chose it to be on the list. I have fond memories of my youth, sitting around inebriated, spending hours grinding my way through the various cities. Even though it pales graphically and creatively by todays standards, I remember it providing much more entertainment and satisfaction than I get from many modern day titles. It was simple in design but groundbreaking for the industry, paving the way for many successful franchises – including Shaun White Snowboarding, as well as Matt Hoffman’s BMX series.
8. Neverwinter Nights
Release date: 2002
Nominated by: Phil Federico (or MasterAbbott, as you may know him)
Never Winter Nights was the first Dungeons and Dragons game that introduced me to the Monk class, a class that in my opinion if played correctly can be one of the most power characters in D&D. I thoroughly enjoyed the amazing story for NWN and was quite sad once I had finished it – my monk totally destroyed the end boss with ease. But that was only the beginning, because at the time NWN had a huge online community. I don’t quite remember how I found it but stumbled across a NWN online persistent world by the name of Melnibone (similar to World of Warcraft). This online world is where my first MMO RPG experience began.
Incorporating the rules and gameplay of NWN the dungeon master of Melnibone created a living and breathing world much harder than the single player experience that I thoroughly enjoyed. It took the experience of playing D&D online to a whole new level with hard-core rules and roleplaying (each player’s character on the server had to sleep, eat and also role play in character or would suffer XP penalties). The AI were beefed up and very intelligent, higher level quests were hard as hell and couldn’t be done on your own no matter strong you were. In true D&D style, teaming up with other players and creating a party was the only way to achieve your goals and completing your quests. Just like what WoW has done to millions of gamers worldwide, NWN consumed my life. I was online and playing for most of the day, going to sleep for a few hours and then jumping back on to continue my quest to be the best possible character on the server, which I successfully achieved. MasterAbbott (yes, now you all know where the name came from) was the highest ranked Monk on the server after year or so of hard-core gaming.
NWN online was where the fun really happened, unfortunately the online community died out as soon as Blizzard’s World Of Warcraft was launched as everyone jumped ship to play that instead. But for me I still believe that NWN was far more enjoyable because of the true D&D gameplay, which still to this day no other game has fully been able to emulate (especially when playing as a Monk). If you’re a D&D fan this game is a must and worthy to be in the Capsule Computers top 100 must play titles.
9. Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga
Platform: Xbox 360/PS3/Nintendo DS/Nintendo Wii/PC/Mac
Release date: 2007
Nominated by: Jed Bradshaw
To many children, Lego building blocks are the pinnacle of toy creation. They can be used to build anything from their imagination and they can, in the case of something like Star Wars Lego sets, let them relive their favorite films. For me, (who still has some cherished Lego sets that will never leave my closet) it was an amazing experience to actually see Lego figures, buildings and other creations come to life in the Lego Star Wars video games. It not only combined my favorite two hobbies at the time –Lego and Star Wars– but it also created some of the most enduring video game memories I will ever have. These blocky video games bring out the best in Lego and the best in Star Wars: quirky, imaginative worlds full of adventure.
10. Metroid Prime
Platform: Nintendo GameCube/Nintendo Wii
Genre: First-person action-adventure
Release date: 2003 (GC) and 2009 (Wii)
Nominated by: Luke Halliday
Nintendo had reached a point during the GameCube era where they decided that, instead of pushing a new innovation onto the console, they would strip it all back and focus solely on innovation with their games. One of the offspring of this idea was the revival of the Metroid series, Metroid Prime. Nintendo took a huge risk with Prime: they took what was once a side-scrolling shooter and transformed it into a first-person, atmospheric masterpiece. Metroid had finally leapt into the third dimension and it was a raw, moody, visceral and lonely experience – but that is what makes this game so damn good. They took the Metroid formula of exploration, set it in a vast 3D world and left you alone – alone to explore the world. That isolation is what makes Metroid Prime a true gaming experience: exploring this massive world with quiet solitude, Nintendo is practically begging you to use your mind. Whenever a game can invoke thought as much as this game can, that is undoubtedly something that warrants a playthrough before kicking the bucket.