Tag Archives: Games

Level One: Silent Hill

List Item: Play 100 of the greatest computer games
Progress: 74/100Title: Silent Hill
Developer: Konami
Platform: Playstation
Year: 1999
Position: #88

I am a chickenshit when it comes to survival horror video games. There has been known to be an incident when I screamed out loud when a ghoul jumped out on my character whilst playing Fallout 3 and I had to take time to calm down after killing it. This is why I have yet to play The Last of Us, because I have a zombie phobia… it ranks as one of two main phobias along with drag queens.

One reason I mention this, other than the fact that Silent Hill is probably the best known survival horror series after Resident Evil, is because this was a game that got the balance right for me in that it creeped me but it did not have me running for the off button. The website that I am using lists the Silent Hill series so I am using my experience with the first iteration in the series in order to cross it off. I know that Silent Hill 2 is regarded as the better game (and I will be getting to that) but for now I am sticking with the first one.

An issue that my partner and myself had with this game was the control system, it was a bit fiddly as the fixed camera angles changed since the direction on the analog stick for left in one instance did not always work as you went to the next scene. The rest however, was pretty impressive. I, being slightly weird and very much my mother’s son, love it when something strange and occult can be incorporated well. There are many examples of media when it is not done well but Silent Hill is able to pull it off by playing on a truly primeval fear: child possession.

The other main thing I thought was really useful, in terms of gameplay and in setting the mood, was the radio static. It worked as a way to give you some notice of when you were near enemies… but sometimes it would be the only sound you hear. This, coupled, with the lack of light other than (at times) your torch meant it could be creepy without being overly crap-your-pants scary.

Level One: Playing Catch Up

List Item: Play 100 of the greatest computer games
Progress: 73/100

Okay, so the way that I have been doing this is that if I was publishing these in tandem with my gaming blog whether or not I had already played them. The issue here is that we are so ahead in playing those games that the time between actually playing some of these and doing this write-up so they coincide is feeling a bit vast.

Therefore, below will a full catch-up to where I really am in this list:

Pokémon series (#41): I have a truly complicated relationship with these games. Over the years I have owned Blue, Silver, Sapphie, Diamond, Platinum, HeartGold, White, White 2, X and (probably by the time of writing) AlphaSapphire so it is obvious that I am a big fan of the games. I love the monsters, the game play and the fact that there are so many people out there that take it waaaay to seriously.

Yoshi series (#48): I have only played Yoshi’s Island here but that is regarded by many as the best in the series so I guess this was the ideal choice. Despite the cutesy appearance this platformer is incredibly unforgiving… but you can forgive it that since Yoshi himself is adorable and the game is highly addictive.

Donkey Kong series (#77): Okay, now what gamer has not played the original Donkey Kong at some point in their lives? I first played it on a keychain which acted a bit like a Game and Watch. I still have it somewhere but it needs a new battery.

Chrono Trigger (#2): Truly, this is one of the most engrossing role-playing games that I have ever played. It is a games that many have taken things from and yet it feels original and still plays exceptionally well over 20 years after being released. There are a number of re-vamps available, including the DS one which is where I experienced it.

Marvel Vs. Capcom series (#63): I currently own the third iteration of the series on the Playstation 3 and I have to say that I really do prefer the likes of Tekken or SoulCalibur when it comes to my fighter games. It’s a little bit too manic button pushing for me… but I still play it for the wide range of characters. But I wish I had waited for the Ultimate edition so I could fight people as Phoenix Wright.

Red Dead Redemption (#12): Ah Rockstar, you did it again with Red Dead Redemption. One of the best games I have ever played and that is mainly due to the incredible sense of freedom you feel whilst riding through the open world. It’s a game which made me realise how you can get stupidly attached to things of little consequence. Casing point: when the horse I had been using for 8 hours of gameplay was randomly attacked and killed by a mountain lion I actually felt bereft.

Metroid Prime series (#19): I own the Wii-make of this trilogy but originally played the first Metroid Prime when it came out on the Gamecube. I really regret trading it in (since I found it really difficult) as the Wiimote controls are not as accurate as the Gamecube controller… maybe I’ll re-get the original if it isn’t too much money.

Minecraft (#91): Since I am such a chicken shit when it comes to survival horror games I have to play this with the creepers turned off since they actually make me jump/wince/want to cry. I have gotten lost in this world for hours and even used it as a way to plan out how we were to arrange the furniture in out new place.

I feel a LOT better after doing this. It does mean I may have to find a new list to act as a way to extend this but… I am currently working on my own formula for that so watch this space.

Level One: The Legend of Zelda (2D) & XCOM

List Item: Play 100 of the greatest computer games
Progress: 65/100

laegg Title: The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Developer: Nintendo EAD
Platform: Gameboy
Year: 1993
Position: #9

Okay, so Link’s Awakening is not the most acclaimed of the two-dimensional The Legend of Zelda games but this was one of the first games that I ever completed when I owned the DX version on the Gameboy Colour. I even had a Gameboy Printer and used it to print out some of the screenshots.

Now that I have dated myself since I completed the DX version in my final years of primary I am going to be honest that I do not remember too much about playing it apart from a section in a dungeon level where you needed to shoot a statue in the eye with an arrow… this was something that continually perplexed me for a while until a friend at school (who had already completed it) helped me out.

I have yet to play A Link to the Past. I know this is meant to be the jewel in the crown of the two-dimensional The Legend of Zelda series… so it’s bad that I haven’t played it… but I will get there soon.

UFO1-enemy-Unknown-screen3Title: UFO: Enemy Unknown
Developer: Mythos Games and MicroProse Software
Platform: PC and Amiga
Year: 1994
Position: #45

Holy moly, that was a hard game. It is yet another example of how video games back in the day. The idea of this game is a really intriguing one; build a base to monitor alien invaders, capture their technology and generally save the Earth. Needless to say we never go around to the saving the Earth part since neither of us were able to get too far before we lost all our resources and had to resign… good thing neither of us are in charge of such an organisation. Yikes.

Level One: Prince of Persia

List Item: Play 100 of the greatest computer games
Progress: 63/100prince-of-persia-ss1Title: Prince of Persia
Developer: Brøderbund
Platform: Apple II
Year: 1989
Position: #67

In the endless line of discussion of whether or not video games have become over the years one of the many games held up as an example is the original Prince of Persia where the biggest constraint is not the time limit of an hour but just how cruel the levels can be.

The story in Prince of Persia is pretty much your standard fare; princess is kidnapped by the big bad so you go off to rescue her. The 60 minute time limit comes from how long you have before your princess is married off against her will and… nuptials commence. However, before you get to her you have to pass through a number of rickety levels (the number of sharp edges and ledges that collapse the moment you step on them makes you wonder who the Grand Vizier used as a contractor), fight numerous enemies and even combat an evil mirror-version of yourself.

Like all addictive games the joy lies in the fact that this is by no means an impossible game. A lot of the level completion relies on rote learning where the traps are and just when you need to stop pressing the ‘run button’ before you skid off of the edge onto some random spikes (it’s that contractor again). There is also quite a bit of level mapping that needs to be done so you need to know which switch opens which door and which potion left on the floor will kill you.

The thing that is really impressive in this game is the animation. If you ever played The Last Express you will know just how much rotoscoped animation can add to the game. In 1989 this was the most human-like animation you would have been able to find in a platformer… which is thanks to the developer’s brother who acted as a model for all the movements of the main character. It just makes the actions feel a little bit more believable and engaging since the, at some times clumsy, movements are ones you are able to relate to.

On the whole it is an addictive platform game that is very much possible to complete… just take a long time.

Level One: Counter-Strike: Source & Tetris

List Item: Play 100 of the greatest computer games
Progress: 62/100Title: Counter Strike: Source
Developer: Valve
Platform: PC
Year: 2004
Position: #56

You have to hand it to people at Valve for pushing a concept that could cause enough controversy that could give them trouble from high levels. In Counter Strike: Source (a very well executed update of the original Counter Strike game) you can either take on the role of soldiers or terrorists in a good old-fashioned game of first-person shooter cat and mouse. As a terrorist you mission criteria usually involves blowing shit up, as a soldier it is up to you to prevent that from happening.

The way that this plays out is a series of short (well, it depends how good you are) team-based missions on one of a good number of maps. At this moment it sounds a lot like (the very much amazing) Team Fortress but it’s got a very different spirit  since there is no cartoonish humour and, most importantly, once you die you stay dead until the round is over. You also have the ability to buy realistic weapons for your team based on how well you did in the previous rounds, something which really causes things to ramp up.

Much like Team Fortress, Left 4 Dead and Timesplitters it is a game that is best enjoyed with multiplayer being used to the fullest… but it is still a lot of fun solo.

TetrisLogo_4cProcess_RTitle: Tetris
Developer: Alexej Pajitnov
Platform: Pretty much everything by now
Year: 1985
Position: #25

Tetris aka one of the most addictive games is something that is so engrained in our gaming culture that pretty much everyone with a passing knowledge of technology will have played this at some point. What else is there to say apart from that I wouldn’t mind some of the hours back that this game stole from me.

Level One: Earthbound

List Item: Play 100 of the greatest computer games
Progress: 60/100Title: EarthBound
Developer: HAL Laboratory
Platform: SNES
Year: 1994
Position: #33

Usually I reserve my writing for this blog but on Pong and Beyond I did a lot on Earthbound (found here) so here is what I wrote:

It is a curious thing that Earthbound has never been available in Europe and Oceania yet was made available in the American market (as well as in Japan obviously). I say this since one thing the game is widely known for in the gaming community is its satire on what is typically viewed as American values. The fact that most of the buyable health items in the first town you visit are typical American fare (french fries, cookies, hamburgers etc.) are just the tip of a game where hippies have been brainwashed to kidnap a kindergarten volunteer. Now pretty much everyone in UK is game for a bit of satire; especially at the expense of our friend’s across the pond.  Now I can not speak for the people of Australia but I can imagine them feeling the same way.  Anyway, we can play it now. Good thing we didn’t bother trying to play it at the beginning to the blog all those years ago.

As a role playing game Earthbound doesn’t take itself too seriously and is a very obvious influence on the recent release of South Park: The Stick of Truth. You take on the role of Ness, a child with psychic abilities who (despite being 13) is out on an adventure to save the world from aliens. I raise the point of him being 13 since neither of his parents seem to really care that their son is battling brainwashed human and aliens armed with a tennis racket and his ever-growing PSI powers.

Seeing how this is a 2D RPG from 1994 the battle sequences are fairly stationary compared to what we are now used to (we are truly spoiled) but one thing I do like is the absense of random encounters. It is always the bane of RPGs like Final Fantasy and Pokémon where all you want to do is go from point A to point B and suddenly the screen gets sucked into a black hole and you are faced with some form of lizard creature. What Earthbound does is instead is place the enemies on screen so you have at least have some warning of impending battle. What this also means is that if you can run into their back you get a surprise attack (and vice versa also happens). My favourite thing about the combat, however, is that once you reach a certain level not only do enemies run away from YOU but you don’t even have to battle them, the experience points are just added to your total.

On the whole, Earthbound is able to balance a seriously constructed game with a good sense of humour. We all know of games that take them far too seriously and, as such, it is a breath of fresh air. The fact that this plays so well after being released 20 years ago (only the battle screen and some graphical things reveal its age) is so incredibly impressive and is why it will probably be one of the games we play for a while after covering it.

Level One: The Elder Scrolls and Monkey Island

List Item: Play 100 of the greatest computer games
Progress: 59/100

Oblivion 1 Title: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (representing the The Elder Scrolls series)
Developer: Bethseda Games Studios
Platform: PC/Xbox 360/PS3
Year: 2006
Position: #54

The Elder Scrolls is really one of those series that I just wanted to give some more time to. Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim are all such major games in the realm of the Western RPG. Earlier in our Pong and Beyond blog we covered Morrowind but I knew that for Before I Kick I wanted to focus more on Oblivion since it was the game that I bought for personal gaming before even starting on that gaming blog.

I was basically sold on the premise of a game by the makers of Fallout 3 that was set in the world of elves and dragons. Now whilst this game doesn’t quite boast the dragons or the arrow-in-the-kneeness of Skyrim this is still pretty fantastical.

Thing is, after having played and fallen for Fallout 3 about 6 years ago it was weird to go to a game which shared so many hallmarks but did not feel as polished (although to call Fallout 3 in all its glitchy beauty ‘polished’ may be taking it a little far). The feature that Oblivion had which kept me playing, however, was the freedom. Not the fake freedom that exists in most games but the fact that you could happily play this game for hours and hours and have only done the first few main quests.

On the other hand, the adaptive difficulty of the game is remarkably broken if you are unaware of how it works. The fact that it becomes incredibly difficult if you level up certain stats too quickly makes this annoying, especially if you go for a magical class and over level-up your sneaking. Still, a strategically placed save point eliminates a number of these difficulties.

The_Secret_of_Monkey_Island_artworkTitle: The Secret Of Monkey Island (representing the Monkey Island series)
Developer: Lucasfilm Games
Platform: Various
Year: 1990
Position: #58

The version of The Secret of Monkey Island we actually played (to completion) was one with updated graphics and voice acting (there was an option to play it as the original game… but opted to stick with the revamp out of sheer increase in accessibility).

In many ways it plays like a good Monty Python sketch, in fact I could imagine this being a Monty Python movie when it comes down to the humour. As someone who is not a particular fan of the group this could read as an insult but I loved The Life of Brian so… take from this as you will. I’m just glad that for the gaming blog I will be playing the sequel. Squee.

Level One: Starcraft

List Item: Play 100 of the greatest computer games
Progress: 57/100

StarCraft_box_artTitle: Starcraft (representing the Starcraft series)
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Platform: PC
Year: 1998
Position: #75

Like with all the games that populate this Top 100 list and the 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die list this game has already been written up properly on my other blog. You can find find the full write-up by following this link.

The Cliff Notes version of the post is like this: very much like an improved version of Warcraft II and III but in space. Also, you have to hand it to Blizzard to squeeze so much longevity out of this game and its sequel.

Level One: Mega Man and Journey

List Item: Play 100 of the greatest computer games
Progress: 56/100

Time for two games that contrast rather oddly. The first, an IP that has been around for years and will got a proper re-introduction to the newer generation of gamers via Super Smash Bros. Wii U.The other as much an act of artfulness as gameplay. Let’s play Mega Man 9 and Journey.

Title: Mega Man 9 (representing the Mega Man series)
Developer: Capcom
Platform: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Wii
Year: 2009
Position: #39

So Mega Man 9 is one of the latest iterations of a major franchise that I never played until this year. It’s not like I had never heard of Mega Man before but the only time I had was on the episode of South Park where Cartman asks for Mega Man action figures as a birthday gift. With a name as (in my opinion) crappy as this I thought it was just a piss take of Power Rangers.

Okay so maybe I am being overly snarky; especially since this game in a once flourishing franchise that published solely on download services. I know I am a bit of a dinosaur here but I still prefer to have a disc or cartridge in hand for a game rather relying on something whose previous iteration gave me the red ring of death during a game of Lego Indiana Jones. Anyway, I’ve rambled and so I’ll just summarize it before I sound even more middle-aged: fun but bloody hard.

journeyTitle: Journey
Developer: thatgamecompany
Platform: Playstation 3
Year: 2012
Position: #27

One thing I am really enjoy in this whole ‘gaming trying to prove it is an art form’ is the number of ways different games developers are approaching the problem of their medium not being taken completely seriously. I remember once being on a train and overhearing a discussion on how stupid it was that the Museum of Modern Art was beginning  to assemble a collection of video games.

Whilst the debate rages on and titles such as The Path and Heavy Rain get used as examples the gap being bridged Journey remains, in my opinion, the best argument of just how video games and art meet.  Whilst many games have made successful emotional connections over the years few have been able to accomplish the feelings of isolation, hope and explorative curiosity as well as Journey does.

The thing that struck me the most about this game (and something that it will lose in less than ten years time) is the anonymous multiplayer. On my original playthrough of this I was lucky to be paired with an experienced player who guided me around to all the secret treasures and whistled for me whenever I got lost or was in danger. I had no idea who this person was but I quickly became attached to me companion and felt a level of distress when we became permanently separated and found myself alone in a strange world.

This is the power of video games and I’m glad to say it’s something more people are beginning to experience.

Level One: Cave Story+ and League of Legends

List Item: Play 100 of the greatest computer games
Progress: 54/100

As much as I love our video game blog there is a slight irritation that comes with it. The way we work is that we post every 3-4 days but we have a built in buffer of games from times where we go for weekend gaming binges. What this means is that there are games that I have played from the 100 Greatest Games list that will not be published for months.

Cave-Story-PlusTitle: Cave Story +
Developer: Studio Pixel
Platform: PC
Year: 2011
Position: #73

In our blog review Jeroen pretty much wrote everything. This does seem a bit naughty of me since that blog is a joint venture but… let’s just say that things were getting a bit hectic in my personal life at the time so I did not have the time to write anything. Things really have changed now and when we get to posts that go out in July things get fairer (but now I write this blog daily I am writing on here more).

Since the link covers pretty much all I would say I get to spend more time on a game I really enjoyed.

Title: League of Legends
Developer: Riot Games
Platform: PC
Year: 2009
Position: #22

I have logged plenty of hours on this game and was introduced to it through a friend. It quickly became a minor addiction of mine which I have tried to distance myself from somewhat since (to be honest) as much as I enjoy League of Legends I am really quite crap at it.

Like the other game in this post League of Legends is free-to-play and relies on people spending money in order to unlock new characters more quickly (since if you play enough games you can do that for free), purchase new outfits for your characters or to buy runes which power up whichever character you choose play.

The game itself is simple and is based on Defense of the Ancients. The objective (of most games) is to destroy the enemy team’s base. I say most since there are other modes… but the one most people actually focus on is the base and tower destroying option.

The community and the scope for team creation is gigantic.  With 118 different characters to choose from (ranging from the typical bulkly tank to the frail healer and pretty much everything in between) and an average of 27 million people playing this game every day you never get the same experience twice. Of course I have had some bad experiences with players on my team being rather abusive but Team Riot have dealt with that by installing reports and a ‘Tribunal’ feature.

As a game the variety is the original thing that draws you in since there are so many things to have a go at. It keeps you on the hook through quick progression and the fact that once you find people you enjoy playing with you will go back for more and more. The only quibble I have with this is that the tutorial is far from exhaustive and new players feel incredibly daunted having been dumped into the game after basic controls instruction. Then again, that is where the games huge fanbase and online presence comes in with wikis and even a section on QuizUp to satisfy your curiosity.

If you are reading this and are a League of Legends player and are keen to play with someone who favours support characters like Sona and Karma when give me a buzz. Always happy to find new people to play with that don’t being trailed and healed.