It’s the busy season again, and as such, this segment has been on a bit of a hiatus for a while. Kelly is reportedly stuck on the Work and Uni mission, a key objective in the main questline of that most dreaded game, Real Life.
She’s passed the torch on to me to get this thing wrapped up, and to let you know which games you should be playing to avoid those weird cousins visiting for the family Christmas gathering.
Remember, the games are in no particular order.
Platform: Originally arcade, but now almost every console ever made!
Release date: 1980
Nominated by: Matt Vella
To date, Pacman remains the highest grossing video game of all time. He’s an icon of 1980s culture, has inspired not just an animated series but also a top ten single in the music charts, and has been seen in over 30 spin offs. But here’s the crazy thing: Pacman is STILL fun to play to date, and sells rather successfully on even modern consoles. The formula for Pacman surpasses the test of time and is sure to live another 100 years. So while it is one of the ‘100 games you must play before you die’, chances are you’ve already played it, making your life a lot easier. See? You just got to love Pacman!
62. Gears of War
Platform: Xbox 360
Release date: 2006
Nominated by: Jack Joly
In my humble opinion the best Gears of War was the first. You knew from the straight away that it was the start of something epic and went on to form the trilogy on offer today, but the outings to follow could never quite eclipse the magic of the first game. It’s fair to say that its run ‘n’ gun cover system revolutionised the modern shooter with a blend of first-person shooter and third-person shooter, something many games since have tried to emulate to bad effect.
Yes, it had problems with latency in online, although despite these flaws I still feel it remains the definitive online Gears experience as the founding gameplay feels like the one and only, like they cracked it with their first attempt. Yes, you grew accustomed to certain lines of dialogue after hearing them 50 times due to bad checkpointing, but as a result these classic quotes live on; “Looket ALL dat juice”; “When was the last time the wind said ‘hostiles’ to you”. I could go on.
The campaign felt a perfect length – neither too long, nor too short – and managed to get me playing through it once for each difficulty, plus numerous times thereafter, an achievement that I don’t recall any other game managing. Even if you entered at the second or third waypoint for the series, you owe it to yourself to see where it all started.
63. Donkey Kong Country
Platform: Super Nintendo
Release date: 1994
Nominated by: Kyle Moore
Donkey Kong Country took everyone’s (with the exception of Mario maybe) favourite “stupid ape” in a completely different direction. Our pal DK moved from an enemy to a hero in this side-scrolling platform, and gained a little simian sidekick in the form of Diddy Kong on his journey. Boasting some rather impressive CGI graphics, which were revolutionary at the time, Donkey Kong Country would go on to form a trilogy on the SNES. The “Country” was then ported to a “Land” for Game Boy, and eventually Donkey Kong would make his way to the N64 and the Wii.
While Donkey Kong has appeared in a number of Nintendo games over the years, and while this may not have been his first appearance, I feel it was Donkey Kong Country that cemented his place as a Nintendo mascot, not to mention being one of the most entertaining platform games I have ever played.
64. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell
Platform: Xbox/Playstation 2/PC
Release date: 2002
Nominated by: Ashlee McKinnis
Tom Clancy, the well know action writer, has endorsed many different military-themed games. The main difference with Splinter Cell is that in most games you are given the choice whether to use stealth or just shoot your way through, where in this game, you have to move through the game stealthily because there is no other option. A stray bullet may often result in mission failure. Throughout the series, Sam Fisher, the man we love in the green night vision goggles, uses a large array of gadgets cooler than Bond, and his story becomes more complex, less about the mission and more about the agent performing them.
The main enjoyment in this game series is the addictive need to finish each area perfectly. Whether knocking out all the guards, or sneaking through without being spotted at all, this game will always present a challenge, but one that anyone should persevere through.
65. Fallout 3
Platform: Xbox 360/PS3/PC
Release date: 2008
Nominated by: Michael Irving
Video games are often built around epic moments, but some of my strongest and fondest virtual memories come from my many hours spent wandering the Capital Wasteland of Fallout 3.
I’ll never forget emerging from Vault 101 into the glare of the outside world for the first time – a rebirth in a sense, as the scene cleverly parallels the birth sequence of the game’s beginning. Seeing that great expanse laid out before you, and knowing that everything you can see can be visited, is exhilarating and hugely liberating for a video game.
Shortly after, I watch from the balcony of Tenpenny Tower in horror, as the shanty town of Megaton is vaporized in a mushroom cloud. As thoughts of the innocent inhabitants of the town came flooding back, the understanding that I’d killed all the quirky characters I’d gotten to know hit me hard. Harder than any revelation or twist in any other game, movie or novel, because it felt personal.
It changed the way I played the game. No more would I blindly serve the most powerful character: I looked at each dispute from all angles and based my actions on who I felt was more deserving.
I got some retribution by later betraying Tenpenny when it became further apparent that he was a douche – I let the ghouls into his tower and helped them slaughter the bigoted residents within. But Tenpenny himself was mine, and I hunted him down in his penthouse and personally put a bullet between his eyes.
It was this feeling of a personal odyssey that made the game so unique. Everyone I spoke to about it had their own experiences in that world. I love this approach to narrative: you could be on your way somewhere important, get distracted by a building in the distance, wander over and find yourself in the midst of another story.
But the world as well! While I know Oblivion had much the same mechanics and narrative structure, I couldn’t get into the generic fantasy setting. The world of Fallout is much more than your average post-apocalyptic wasteland: it’s set a few hundred years into a future envisioned by 1940’s American culture, meaning nuclear power became the primary energy, early sci-fi film tropes abound and fashion is locked into ’40s sensibilities.
Yeah, you can see I could go on for ages. In early 2009, I was living alone, had recently bought an Xbox 360, and was enduring both a bad break-up and Australia’s hottest Summer on record. All this added up to me sitting in the air-conditioned dark, exploring the Capital Wasteland for days on end, eventually clocking up 175 hours within a year.
It was totally worth it.
66. Earthworm Jim
Platform: Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, and almost every console ever, both home and handheld, since then.
Release date: 1994
Nominated by: Matt Vella
Jim is an Earthworm in a super-powered suit with a ray gun, trying to save ‘Princess What’s-Her-Name’ from the evil ‘Queen Slug-For-A-Butt’. Sound awesome enough for you? Well how about fighting a dude called ‘Professor Monkey-for-a-Head’? I swear to God I’m not making this up. Earthworm Jim combines the elements of platforming, shooting, the ability to use your own head as a skipping rope, bungie diving, racing and cow catapulting into one very well polished and fun to play package.
Earthworm Jim isn’t just a hilarious and creative game however, it also contains great level design, a very memorable soundtrack and straight up just reminds you what video games are all about: having fun! There’s been about 10 million ports to every device possible for this game, just proving how it’s proudly stood the test of time.
And if none of this has convinced you that Earthworm Jim is a must-play game, Jim was voiced by the same dude who voices Homer Simpson in the cartoon adaptation of the game. That legally makes Jim the awesomest Earthworm in the history of anything, ever!
67. Monster Rancher
Release date: 1997
Nominated by: Luke Halliday
If there ever was a revolutionary concept that was insatiably addictive, it was the Monster creating concept of Monster Rancher for the Playstation. Instead of your generic monster breeding and creation system, Monster Rancher allows users to change game discs mid game in order to spawn a monster from each disc, much like the ancient tablets seen in the game. This feature was so addictive you found yourself trying out every disc you had in your home just to see what monster it would create for you. This game on the concept alone is reason enough you should play it before you die.
68. Tekken Tag Tournament
Platform: Playstation 2
Release date: 2000
Nominated by: Jack Joly
Tekken is a favourite fighting franchise of mine. It seems to get the balance of accessibility and mastery just right; it’s easy enough for a beginner to pick up and string together some pleasing moves but, equally, with practice you can become formidable. Its roster is the real clincher for me, as the addictive grab moves unique to each character give each fighter a different flavour and you soon find your favourites.
The reason why Tekken Tag Tournament is one of the better games of the series is that the new tag team mechanic meant you didn’t have such a tough choice narrowing down to one character – you could choose two which made the selection process a little less painful. And, with a sequel finally on the way it could be worth revisiting so you know your stuff ahead of its release.
69. Jet Set Radio Future
Release date: 2002
Nominated by: Roger Ma
“J-J-S-S-R-R!” Ah Yes, Jet Set Radio Future, hands down one of the most unique and best games ever to be released on to the Xbox. Many gamers first got their taste of the Xbox by playing this game, as it was initially released as a launch title for the console, bundled together with Halo and Sega GT 2002. Jet Set Radio Future’s style is one thing that you just cannot miss about this game, from the crazy locations of future Tokyo, to ever single wacky character, skate gang and graffiti which have all been wonderfully animated through the uses of cel-shading, which gives the game its unique look.
And I can’t talk about Jet Set Radio Future without mentioning its soundtrack. People please, if you are reading this right now, go do yourself a favour and look up Jet Set Radio Future’s soundtrack. For a video game soundtrack it is damn near a masterpiece, bringing together catchy J-Pop hits, contemporary hip hop, rap and techno all into one incredibly memorable experience which all fits perfectly to the game’s fast pace platforming and graffiting action.
The gameplay at heart is part racer and part platforming, with quite a lot of graffiti thrown into the mix. To this day, I have not come across a game that is quite like Jet Set Radio Future. It is simply so unique and so full of style that I don’t think any game can beat it in that regard or for its soundtrack.
And hopefully we will see a sequel to this amazing game or at the very least a XBLA re-release.
70. Medal Of Honor
Release date: 1999
Nominated by: Phil Federico
Back in the day, Medal Of Honor was, in my opinion, the best first person shooter world war game. The original really set the standard on the PC that other FPS war games use today. Graphically, it wasn’t very appealing, but it had everything you wanted in a game, including a fun and addictive online multiplayer community which had me hooked for hours on end. Yes, I even set up a band of fine soldiers and created my own MOH CLAN, that took part in weekly Friday 5 on 5 matches. Ahh those were the days, to have the time to do that sort of stuff.
MOH was certainly a great first person shooter, dominating for so many years, we could call it the COD of its era, but poor planning and lack of creativity on behalf of the development team forced EA to drop the ball, and relinquish its FPS crown to another game we all know too well. I’m hoping that in time MOH will take its place as the king of first person shooters once again, and revolutionize the genre as it did way back when I had a full head of hair. If not I will cling on and remember the good old memories and fun times I shared with it. If you have the time and money, pick up the original MOH on PC and give it a go. It’s a game that needs to be played, respected and enjoyed.