Continuing on from the first ten games from our list of 100 games you must play before you die, we introduce to you the next installment. These games are a mix of the new and old, and the great and the terrible, but these are ten more games you absolutely must play before you kick the bucket. Just a reminder: the games are in no particular order.
11. Crash Bandicoot
Release date: 1996
Nominated by: Roger Ma
Think back to a time when video games were uncomplicated and humble – to a time when video games were played just for fun. It was the mid 90s and the fabled 32-bit era console war seemed to of dying down just a tad. A ‘small’ game by the name of Crash Bandicoot was released in 1996 and introduced players to one of gaming’s most recognisable characters. Crash Bandicoot in my opinion is one of the quintessential platformer to come of out of the 1990s. At the time, it was one of the first fully rendered 3D platformers to be released on to consoles, but what made Crash Bandicoot so popular and successful was that its core gameplay was just pure fun to play from start to finish.
The developers of Crash Bandicoot, Naughty Dog, managed to keep and maintain the game’s fundamental game mechanics without them ever feeling old throughout the game’s lengthy run. Jumping and spinning was pretty much all you could do, yet somehow these two simple actions – combined with wonderfully designed level, vast and varied environments and creative boss fights – made for a very good game. The fact that this game was released in 1996 but video game developers of today are still trying to grasp the simplicity of Crash Bandicoot really does speak for itself. With the initial success of Crash Bandicoot, it quickly established itself as a video game franchise complete with sequels and a plethora of racing and party game spin-offs. But, of cause, all this started with the original Crash Bandicoot on the Playstation, and that’s why you must play this game before you die.
12. God of War II
Platform: Playstation 2
Release date: 2007
Nominated by: Matt Vella
The God of War franchise has some of the most epic moments in video game history, violence that would make a Mortal Kombat Kharacter Kringe, some of the best button-mashing of all time and an orchestral soundtrack that’d make Beethoven jealous. Personally I consider it a side-scrolling beat ’em up/hack ‘n’ slash title, but most call it a third person action/adventure title. Losers.
The cinematic approach in God of War II is simply outstanding, it rivals and even beats many Hollywood action flicks in my opinion, as well as providing some of the most fun memories in a single-player game I can ever recall. What amazes me with God of War is how such a simple engine is so entertaining. While most games like this feel repetitive, the cinematic approach with epic soundtrack and graphics reverses this, and you’re constantly surprised and impressed at every twist and turn. Furthermore, if this was a list of the top 100 boss fights, 20% of the list would most likely be bosses from the God of War franchise.
Hell, come to think of it, everything I’ve said about this game applies to every title in the franchise. In fact, God of War 3 alongside Killzone 3 is probably the main reason most people even own a PS3. Oh yeah, I went there!
Platform: PC/Mac/PS3/Xbox 360
Release date: 2007
Nominated by: Alexis Ayala
What can I say about Portal that hasn’t been said already? Talk about coming out of left field and smacking you in the face with a wet tuna. Portal was released with The Orange Box, a collection of games by VALVE including heavy hitters such as Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episodes One and Two, and Team Fortress 2. It’s hard to get noticed, let alone stand out amongst such a pedigree of titles, yet Portal was the little game that could, incorporating clever level design, writing and an amazing game mechanic into a package that swept the industry by storm and topping many publications Game of the Year Award – quite the feat for a game that you can run through in 45 minutes if you know what you’re doing.
For the three of you who don’t know, Portal is a puzzle-platform game played in first person. Your character, Chell, much like in Half-Life, is a silent protagonist. Your goal is to navigate a testing facility know as The Enrichment Centre for Aperture Laboratories using your portal gun, which allows you to shoot two portals, an in and an out, which will connect two places in space. Portal is narrated by the real star of the game, a cognisant A.I. knows as GLaDOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System), who’s clever dialog is always helpful and in a friendly demeanour yet dry and sinister all at the same time. Imagine Martha Stewart as an A.I. trying to kill you with a Rube Goldberg machine and you’ve got it. Portal made waves when it was released, and for good reason. It’s created meme’s and catchphrases like the ubiquitous “the cake is a lie”, and the follow-up Portal 2, solidified the game as a series and a powerhouse franchise. If you haven’t yet, you should play Portal. It’s a short, inexpensive experience that goes a long way and will stick with you. It’s something every gamer should have under their belt.
Release date: 1998
Nominated by: Kelly Teng
One of Sony Playstation’s best kept secrets and a great cult classic, Tomba! (or Tombi! as it is known in Europe and Australia) is a game that makes no sense but is utterly charming from start to finish. If there was ever a game you had never heard of but had to play, it would be this.
Most PS1 fans only got their hands on a demo, but that’s okay because the game is great from the get-go. Players play a pink-haired, green/purple-shorts-wearing guy, Tomba, whose grandfather’s bracelet was stolen by a bunch of evil pigs. Tomba’s job is, of course, to get his grandfather’s bracelet back…however, progression through the game is measured in the most unconventional way possible: by capturing the Seven Evil Pigs into pig bags. Gameplay largely consists of walking and jumping on everything – pigs, animals, plants, and so forth – but the simplicity of the game is part of the beauty.
It is almost impossible to describe the joy of playing this title, and I’m not going to try. All I’m going to say is this: if you ever manage to get your hands on it, don’t let it go.
Release date: 1998
Nominated by: Mike Irving
There are tournaments held for just about any multiplayer game, but few have ever reached the scale of StarCraft, which has developed into something of a national “sport” in South Korea. The game is widely considered to be the best real-time strategy game of all time, and around its release it was voted by several sources as Game of the Year 1998.
While other games of the time were balancing the teams in-game by ensuring that all had access to the same or very similar abilities, units and strategies, StarCraft was arguably the first to create very different species, and require very different strategies to master each one. They are all still finely balanced, but it’s a much more creative balancing act: rather than simply reskinning units for each race, elements such as unit cost, attack and defend power, movement speed, weapons, and maximum numbers were weighed against each other. For example, the Terran race is essentially human with access to advanced technology, meaning units are expensive to produce and fairly slow-moving, but are strong in the offensive and defensive. On the other hand, the infamous Zerg race can produce a lot of units very quickly and cheaply, but they are very weak individually, relying on sheer numbers to overwhelm opponents.
More than a decade later, and StarCraft‘s impact and influence is still felt, in the gaming industry and pop culture in general. While Blizzard’s other RTS franchise, WarCraft, went on to pioneer the MMO scene, StarCraft maintained a hold on the RTS genre through several expansions released in the following years. Later RTS games almost always include elements introduced to the industry in StarCraft. It still has an almost religious online following, and professional StarCraft players in South Korea become media celebrities. It may be difficult to master, but due to its massive influence on the genre, the industry, and the way games are played in social and professional environments, StarCraft definitely needs to be played…at least until you rage quit after being on the receiving end of a Zerg Rush.
16. Space Quest
Platform: DOS/Mac/AMIGA/Atari ST (via Floppy Disk)
Release date: 1986
Nominated by: Phil Federico
In Space Quest, you take on the role of Roger Wilco, a lowly janitor on board the spaceship Arcada. Luckily for Roger, he fell asleep in the broom closet as the ship was being highjacked by the evil Sariens who end up killing everyone on board and stealing the Star Generator (some sort of powerful device). Using his quick wits (mainly consisting of lucky and stupidity) Roger escapes the Arcada before it blows up and embarks on a mission of epic proportions filled with witty tongue and cheek references to both Star Trek and Star Wars movies. On his mission to save the universe Roger visits a number of weird and wonderful locations such as barren wastelands, underground caves and a strange town called Ulence Flats that has a local bar that resembles a scene in Star Wars.
The gameplay in Space Quest is keyboard controlled. You moved Roger around with the arrow keys and complete commands by typing them in to perform specific task; this did lead to frustration for a number of less experienced players as they didn’t know what to type were standing in slightly wrong positions on the screen, but this was totally normal for this type of game. Space Quest was a classic and in my eyes could do no wrong.
I don’t remember how many times I’ve taken good ol’ Roger on his mission to save the people of Xenon, and recover the Star Generator, but every time was a complete pleasure and never once did I get bored. This was because Space Quest had a score system similar to what XBOX / PS3 games have now in the way of achievements. You could finish the game for example with a 100 out of 150 points, and of course you finished the game and knew the ending, but still that wasn’t enough for me. I had to go back and figure out what I missed to get that perfect score.
Space Quest is a game that has stood the test of time and a must to play if you love adventure games. I believe the best platform to play it on now would be the PC. Make sure you mop the floor with this one before you cross over into the other universe.
17. Batman: Arkham Asylum
Platform: PC/Xbox 360/PS2
Release date: 2009
Nominated by: Jed Bradshaw
Batman: Arkham Asylum is the standout licensed game of this generation. With store shelves full of movie knockoff video games and other awful licensed junk, Rocksteady truly went back to Batman’s roots by creating a new story around the most iconic Batman characters and places like the Joker, Riddler and Arkham Asylum. In doing so, they blended comic book and video game into an experience like no other – an experience that actually makes you feel the Batman of a comic book. It will stand with The Dark Knight movie as one of those entertainment events that you will never forget. This game is one publishers should take heed of and learn from. It may take some time and extra polish (or extra cash), but a quality game (even if it is licensed) that has passion behind will reach critical and monetary success, even when its not based on a recent movie.
Platform: Dreamcast/PS2/Xbox 360 (HD)
Genre: Rail-shooter/Music/Head trip
Release date: 2002 or 2008 (Xbox 360)
Nominated by: Alexis Ayala
Tetsuya Mizuguchi is an interesting cat. Starting off at Sega, he designed Sega Rally Championship then moved into a more music focused path with Space Channel 5 before designing the hallmark prequel to Child of Eden, Rez. It’s hard to imagine now, but if we use the way back machine, Rez came at a time where music focused games were still in their infancy. Creating a love child between music and an on-rails shooter, Rez was a sheer critical success, but much like Child of Eden, wasn’t supported with marketing and died on the vine. Until it was re-released as an Xbox LIVE Arcade Game, Rez was veritably impossible to find unless you wanted to part with an unrealistic amount of money, an ounce of blood and possibly your first born to pick it up on eBay.
Rez might appear as a head trip of a game mostly suited for a psychotropic induced experiences but… well… yes. It’s that. However, it’s also a brilliant experience that must be had by any gamer. Notice how I didn’t say game. Rez is an experience. Anything I explain pertaining to it will be considered a spoiler so I’ll keep this sort, but I encourage anyone to pick it up and play it through to the end. You can thank me later. Psychotropics are purely optional.
19. Superman 64
Platform: Nintendo 64
Release date: 1999
Nominated by: Luke Halliday
If there was ever a game, that was so bad that you just had to play it, it would have to be Superman 64. It is a game that is widely considered (alongside the E.T game) to be the worst game of all time. There is so much wrong with this game. To list every glitch, bug, fault or just all around crappy things about Superman 64, would take a lifetime to even describe the first level!
The game just is horrible and has become infamous for that. It’s known for terribly unresponsive controls, having an indeterminable genre, taking away anything that was ‘super’ about Superman, being absolutely incoherent, barely functioning, glitched environments, glitched gameplay, glitched everything and just being a game so bad that you’d be doing yourself a great injustice to not play it before you die. The game was so widely slammed for being bad that it’s developer, Titus Software, never recovered from it and closed up shop for good a few years later.
Whether you need a good laugh or want to die a little inside, you need to experience Superman 64 for the pinnacle of bad video games.
20. Pikmin 2
Platform: Nintendo GameCube
Release date: 2004
Nominated by: Jack Joly
Do you ever get…*inhale*..so excited about something…*exhale*.. that you have trouble breathing? When I was told..*inhale*… to write about Pikmin 2…*exhale*…one of my favourite games of all time…*inhale*..this happened to me..*deep exhale*.
The first Pikmin was refreshingly different and oozing with charm. The little creatures called Pikmin acted as your army, hinging on your every command and following you around into attack, retreat and carrying loot after a successful raid. Despite all the different colours which carried different abilities and up to 100 out and about at any one time, every loss was mourned, and seeing one of your loyal soldier’s souls floating into the air tugged at the heart strings of even the most hardened Generals.
Pikmin 2 built on everything of the first game; new types of Pikmin to add to the tactics; underground caverns to supplement the booty collected at ground level; charming new characters who brought with them a character swapping element to your strategy; new enemies and worlds to explore; and a two-player battle mode and extra co-operative missions. It has to be one of the most charming, witty games around. No doubt copies of the Gamecube game are something of a rarity these days, but an all-new revised Wii release with a Wii control scheme means everyone has the chance to give it a go.