Tuesday, September 6, 2016

My Top 115 Favorite Video Games (100-96)

Click here for the introduction!

100. Beyond Good and Evil (GameCube)

There’s a tangible quality to the characters and world of Beyond Good and Evil that really makes it stand out. The world isn’t very large by many adventure games’ standards but it’s vividly and imaginatively painted in a way that leaves an indelible impression. Likewise, Beyond Good and Evil isn’t a very long experience, but it is confident, focused, and everything about it simply comes together so well. Its narrative isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s gripping and incredibly well-told, and its characters are varied and endearing. It’s clear that BG&E takes some inspiration from the Zelda series, but like another game that will appear on this list much later on, it uses that template to serve a unique work that is full of personality and that easily stands apart. In fact, Beyond Good and Evil stands out so much that even though it has been many years since I played it and there’s plenty I don’t remember about the experience, I am still eagerly awaiting the long-promised but seldom-mentioned continuation of this story and a chance to return to this universe.

99. God of War (PS2)

I’ve played all three of the main God of War games, but the first one is still the most special to me. It feels more mythic somehow than the following two, with a larger emphasis on adventure than on simply ripping things apart, and it has a comparatively competent and satisfying narrative unlike the mess that the God of War story turned into by God of War III. I also love that pretty much the whole game takes places in a gigantic temple chained to the back of the colossal Titan, Cronos, who is doomed to wander through a vast desert. And yes, it’s fun to rip things apart in this one too.

98. Gunstar Heroes (Genesis)

From its saturated art direction to its impactful explosions to its twangy, heart-pumping sound design, Gunstar Heroes is pure Genesis. My fondest memory of Gunstar Heroes is playing through the whole game co-op with a good friend. Working together to take down the multitude of wacky enemies and bosses, such as Seven Force, a particularly memorable mechanoid that cycles through seven different unique forms, was a blast and super satisfying to finally conquer. Playing the game solo is also a good time, but Gunstar Heroes is primarily a co-op experience in my mind.

97. Castlevania: Bloodlines (Genesis)

One of my first introductions to Castlevania, Bloodlines burrowed its way into my subconscious and fueled my imagination as a child. There was something about the gritty, detailed environments and haunting atmosphere, and of course its transcendent soundtrack, the first in the series composed by the incredible Michiru Yamane (who would go on to score Symphony of the Night and much more) that really stirred me up as a kid. This is a bit difficult to explain, but I used to construct my own imaginary video games based on Castlevania: Bloodlines with toys as characters and the real world as levels, the game’s soundtrack humming along in my head as I did so. When I returned to Bloodlines years later as an adult, it held up as perhaps the most underappreciated classic Castlevania game, with its only drawback being the lack of infinite continues, which even the original NES game had. Still, it’s an experience I always feel drawn to as October rolls around and one I’ll always enjoy returning to.

96. Tales of Symphonia (GameCube)

Tales of Symphonia is JRPG comfort food. It contains pretty much every single JRPG cliché in the book, but it executes all of it with such delightful enthusiasm and polish that I can’t help but be taken in by its charms. The lovely cel-shaded art style doesn’t hurt either. There’s nothing too extraordinary about Tales of Symphonia and that’s kind of what I love about it. There’s something so inviting about its picturesque villages and character archetypes and stock-standard world map, and I found the action-packed combat system to be very simplistic but enjoyable to just slash through until I got to exploring the pretty environments more and came to the next contrived plot point. And when I say “contrived”, I mean that in the most affectionate way possible with a warm, remembering smile on my face.


Next up: #95-91! Hope you stop by again!

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