This is an article I submitted to some cheap video game website back in 2004. Obviously, there’s been tons of amazing games in the last 7 years so this list isn’t accurate anymore but it’s still an interesting look back in time (for me) to see where my head was at in 2004. Pay no heed to the poor grammar (the webmaster certainly didn’t)!
10. GoldenEye 007 (N64): I was trying to think of some N64 games that could be on this list and this was the game in my collection I went back to more than any other. Who doesn’t want to be James Bond? The game is challenging, but not impossible. The soundtrack gives it that classic 007 feel and it’s a great multiplayer game. This game resurrected the FPS genre and made people think about what a shooter game could be. Just thinking about this game wants me to break out my N64 again! Much like Shining Force was reason to buy a Genesis, this was reason to buy a N64.
9. Final Fantasy II (SNES): It’s Final Fantasy! Now I like RPGs, but I’m nowhere near to being any good at playing them. But, along with FFIII and FFVII, I think FFII is one of the true classics and my friend and I spent many hours playing this thing. It has a great storyline and it made me want to keep going just to see what happened next. Now that’s a great RPG.
8. Age of Empires (PC): Although this game appeared courtesy of Microsoft after the dawn of Civilization (the *other* historical strategy game), this was the one that the spawned countless $20 cheap knock offs you’d see at Kay-Bee Toys or Software Etc. AoE is a real time strategy game involving many of the old world civilizations such as Greek, Babylonian, Persian, and Egyptian to name a few. Includes campaigns where certain goals must be completed, or you can pretty much just duke it out with the computer or another person online until you’ve killed all their people or captured the Wonder for a certain amount of time. You get to forage for food, chop wood, mine, kill antelopes and elephants, build and upgrade your armies and crush your opponent! What fun! Followed up by Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings, and Age of Mythology. Someday, I’ll actually get around to buying a new computer so I can play the copy of AoM my girlfriend bought me last year for my birthday…
7. Grand Theft Auto III (PS2): Ah, the game that sparked a new age of gaming. After the imitators have come along and tried to cash in, the GTA series still rules the roost. But we’re talking about GTA III specifically, so stop getting off subject! This is another game that made a HUGE leap in terms of change and quality when compared to the first two sucky GTAs on PS1. I was tempted to try them out just for the sake of seeing where this great game came from, but take it from me, don’t play them! It’s amazing there *was* a part three considering the poor quality of GTA 1 & 2! It’s even more amazing that an instant classic such as GTA III came from them. Playing the story is just an added bonus to this huge city you get to run around in. Steal cars, shoot people, blow things up, fiddle with the radio, have sex with prostitutes… Man, this is my life put onto a game disc! If you haven’t played this game, you’re really behind on your gaming.
6. Thief: The Dark Project (PC): Yes, it’s a PC game, but it’s still a video game to me! You might say this sneak ’n’ steal classic was the precursor to stealth genre that gave the world games like Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid 2… But then you’d be plagiarizing. Garrett is one of the coolest video game characters, in my opinion, of course, and the types of weapons are cool: a blackjack to knock’em out (sometimes it’s best not to kill), moss arrows (to creep around silently on metal/gravel surfaces) and water arrows (to TURN OUT THAT LIGHT!!!) among others. It also features a great storyline that continues in Thief II: The Metal Age and the awesome Thief: Deadly Shadows
5. Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES): A vast departure (although a fun look) from the original Super Mario Bros. game. This can all be attributed to the fact that SMB2 wasn’t a originally a Mario game at all and was retooled from a Japanese game called Dream Factory: Doki Doki Panic, whereas Japan got the “real” Super Mario Bros. 2. The gaming industry is weird like that. Bowser and the usual enemies are nowhere to be found; instead you get the evil frog king, Wart, and some cool new enemies, all of which live in the Dream World (aka Subcon). Heck, I’d love to see a direct sequel starring the Dream World gang, but since this game is viewed as an anomaly in the Super Mario timeline, I’m sure it will never happen. Did I mention you get to play as Mario, Luigi, OR Princess and Toad? Each character has pros & cons, choose wisely!
4. Shining Force (SG): What a treasure I found when I traded a kid my sucky Genesis Superman game for this! To be honest, I’ve never defeated it because my friend used a cheap cartridge cleaner and it wiped out the ability for my cartridge to save, but what times I had while I could! An RPG-strategy game, you start with one set character and from there you meet others who will join your Shining Force. And once you get going, the amount of teammates to choose from is huge. And they are all waiting at the Shining Force HQ for you to pick’em. And there is a lot of strategy involved in the battles. The battles are overhead view, and you can only move your characters a certain amount of spaces. So picking the right guys for your team and moving them into the right positions is crucial. This game was a good enough reason to own a Sega Genesis and is also available as a part of Sega Smash Pack Vol. 1 for PC.
3. Contra (NES): Do you remember what buttons to press for the 30 Lives code? I know I don’t, and I could never do it either. Always had to have my friends type it in. But you’d need a code like that for this game; one shot from the enemy and you’re toast. And you only start with three! But man, how fun was it running through the jungle in that first stage decked out like Rambo and blasting away with your spread gun? Then it all gets crazy when you gotta fight aliens! The “boss” of the game is pretty sick and cool.
2. (Mike Tyson’s) Punch-Out (NES): With or without Mike Tyson? Nintendo released a Mike Tyson-less version of Punch-Out in what I seem to remember being in 1989 or 1990. Either version is a great game that can be played over, and over, and over and over again… The only difference between both versions of Punch-Out is you’ll either fight Mike Tyson at the end or Mr. Dream. Mr. Dream fights exactly like Mike Tyson, but with lighter skin color and a different head. I, myself, own the “NES Classic Series” version (Mr. Dream) and still dust it off time to time to help Little Mac conquer the boxing world! Try it with the Game Genie to become a killing machine– never lose hearts and stars (or moons and clovers)! Awesome!
1. Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES): The best Mario game ever! After the different look of SMB2, the third installment got back to the franchise’s roots. And it excels, I’ll even occasionally pull out my beat up NES to this day just to play this game. Who can resist the wonders of Raccoon Mario? Fly, fly away!