Monday, September 5, 2016

My Top 115 Favorite Video Games (105-101)

Click here for the introduction!

105. Resident Evil 4 (GameCube)

I do not have the religious reverence for Resident Evil 4 that many have, but I definitely recognize the game’s impact and it’s certainly a memorable experience. RE4 was a huge deal back when it first released in 2005 as a GameCube exclusive (yeah, remember that?). Many of my friends were playing it and talking about at the time, so much so that I kind of…got sick of it. Also, a good chunk of the game was spoiled for me as well because of my constant exposure to it before playing it myself. Despite all this, I still remember my first time with the early village sequence as one of the tensest and most harrowing sections in a game I’d ever experienced. I love the game’s atmosphere, its environments, its self-aware camp, and its ridiculous characters and varied bosses. RE4 is a game that just keeps one-upping itself and surprising the player with one exciting, nail-biting, interesting sequence after the next. Just when you get comfortable with a certain scenario and think you know the rules, the game throws a wacky curveball at you, or perhaps a chainsaw.

104. Kirby’s Epic Yarn (Wii)

Epic Yarn is my favorite of the “experimental” Kirby games, which include a game where you control a spherical Kirby with magic paintbrush strokes (actually there are two of those) and one where the pink cream-puff is split into a swarm of ten mini-Kirbys. I like Epic Yarn because unlike these other alterna-Kirbys, it’s still a traditional platformer; it just gives Kirby a new aesthetic and set of mechanics within its fabric framework to play around with. The word that always comes to mind when I think of Epic Yarn is “delightful”. It will charm the pants right off of you…which Kirby will probably then unravel and turn into a sled or something.

103. Yoshi’s Woolly World (Wii U)

The third and final title on this list from the booming “yarn genre” is Yoshi’s Woolly World, a special game that surprised me with not only its creative level design, but also an intimate and emotional adventure that I could feel was created with a  lot of love and effort. There’s something inherently nostalgic about Woolly World. Simply put, it is the video game equivalent of wrapping myself up in one of my Nana’s hand-knitted blankets and sipping a cup of tea on a cool autumn night.

102. Pikmin 2 (GameCube)

Pikmin 2, which I actually played on Wii, is special to me because it helped bring me fulfillment during a time when all I felt like doing was lying in bed in the dark, but it’s also a delightfully unique experience with an indescribable atmosphere. There’s something about venturing further and further down into the depths of one of Pikmin 2’s many underground labyrinths, not really knowing what’s going to be on each new floor, that’s intoxicating. This is only compounded by the game’s uniquely bizarre soundtrack, which drew me into a world that felt like a dream. The main goal of Pikmin 2 is to discover and collect “treasures”, a bunch of human junk ranging from Duracell batteries to bottle caps to references to Nintendo’s history, in order to pay off a debt. Discovering each treasure and seeing what extravagant name Olimar and Louie’s wonderfully characterized spaceship comes up with for these mundane objects is simply a delight and one of my favorite aspects of the experience. If you seek to complete it thoroughly, Pikmin 2 is a long game, and it can be both challenging and exhausting, but while it’s not a game I’m likely to return to that often or at all, it is a treasured experience for me and one that felt immensely gratifying to journey through and complete.

101. Kirby’s Return to Dream Land (Wii)

I fondly remember the day that Kirby’s Return to Dream Land released in late October of 2011. After getting out of work and visiting two different GameStops before I was able to buy the game, I brought it home and found myself transported back to being a little kid with a Game Boy, playing Kirby’s Dream Land for the first time; back to the summer of 2000 when I first played Kirby 64. The so appropriately-titled Return to Dream Land, the first traditional Kirby game on a home console since Kirby 64, was a very welcome return to form for the series. This game is just good. It feels so artfully and perfectly traditional in so many ways, yet doesn’t feel stale or recycle too many old staples. In fact, I sort of wish one or two more classic bosses showed up even, as most are brand new. Even only five years later, I already find myself feeling a bit nostalgic when I listen to the soundtrack. Return to Dream Land is simply a joyful video game, elegant in its traditional design, and nearly unmatched in its level of polish.


Check back again next time for #100-96!

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