Archive for the 'Amiga' Category

The Beautiful Game(s)

Don’t you love to be sucked into the experience of a game? You know, the kind of game that has such an intriguing story and cast of characters that you wish you could (and sometimes do) play the game for hours on end? The kind of game that can have flaws, but they simply do not matter? The sort of game that feels like you are getting on a ride you do not want to get off of? Those are the sort of games I look for. In this article, we pay tribute to the top 15 greatest game experiences of all time. If you disagree, feel free to comment on this post with your own top 15.

15. Mortal Kombat

Finish Him! Nuff said? For those who can remember the crowds that would gather around a Mortal Kombat arcade, that is probably all you need to jog your memory. While this game will be remembered for the sight of seeing worried parents, and rabid gamers gathered around an arcade, its game play revolutionized fighting games forever.

14. Psychonauts

After reading about how watered down the ps2 version was by a respected video game magazine, I almost didn’t play this game. But I was very pleasantly surprised to experience one of the most creative platform games ever created. I still do not understand why this game didn’t sell better than it did. If you have not played this game, go buy it, now. Definitely one of the funniest and most entertaining games ever created.

13. Maniac Mansion

Girlfriend gets kidnapped by a green looking Martian family? You have to sneak in, talk to tentacles, microwave hamsters, and radio to other planets to save her from a creepy dungeon beneath the house? What’s not to love about this game? And why hasn’t there been a sequel announced for any systems beyond the NES? Keep the point and click system! Just make it more intuitive, give us voiceovers, and updated graphics! Truly, one of the most imaginative experiences ever in the history of video games.

12. Asherons Call

World of Warcraft fans. Time to pay tribute. Asherons Call was put out by Microsoft back in the late 90’s. For people who saw thru the crap that Everquest was, Asherons Call offered an “ahead of its time” arena in which to pown monsters and guys in black armor, endlessly. Many of its genius ideas were later taken and perfected, and we call that game World of Warcraft.

11. Street Fighter 2

The fighting game of all fighting games. I am hoping Microsoft’s recent decision to acquire Capcom means we may get a respectable online Street Fighter Game. While the EX series was popular in Japan, it did not do as well in the states. The series still has a lot of potential to grow, and I hope to see some enthusiasm around this series again in the future. For now, if you decide to play the classic SF2—no, you cannot attack the elephants in the Dhalism level. You just can’t.

10. River City Ransom

The first game to introduce frequent vomiting. River City Random. *BARF* For those of you who actually had a life in the 80s, let me fill you in. Every time you defeated a character, they would usually throw up. Poor Japanese translation at its best, River City Ransom let you explore small Japanese towns, where you could read and learn about new abilities, eat sushi, burgers, and the smiles are always free! Worth a play on the GBA port for the humor alone, but truly meant to be played 2 player on the NES. Come on Virtual Console!

9. Dance Dance Revolution

D-D-R! I believe this game was made by the government to fight obesity in gamers. OK, not really, but it is a really fun work out. I wouldn’t recommend jumping on one in a shopping mall on your first try, but to wake up and get down to some Sean Paul as a start to your morning work out is pretty nice. Then if you actually like it, get in touch with me so I can own you in online mode.

8. Donkey Kong Country

The colors, the music, the rendered graphics, and the flawless game-play. These things truly made Donkey Kong Country a world in which you could spend days and days in. Too bad it was only a few hours long. This is an example of a game that really did not need to be changed much. Keep the old formula, and give us new graphics to look at, and we will be happy!

7. Zelda 3: A link to the past

Two words. Master Sword. Who can forget running in the sunlight towards the master sword as the animals parted a path for you? If you really want to feel like you are the savior of the world, this is your game. As you adventure into the world, it is not just the story that will keep you playing, but the desire to improve your game experience by acquiring new items. Also a wonderful example of how puzzles in video games should be made.

6. Golden Eye 007

While the Nintendo 64 didn’t offer many hits, the hits it offered were phenomenal. 007 lead the charge of four player game play that has now been adopted by every video game system. All hail. Oh yeah, and paintball mode rules.

5. Tetris DS

Who can’t appreciate the pure genius of this puzzle game? I believe this game was meant to be multiplayer as the online Nintendo DS version shows. Being able to connect wirelessly to anyone in the world to school them in a game of Tetris is pure gamer bliss.

4. Final Fantasy 4

As we all know by know, this was Final Fantasy 2 in the states. The first RPG to come stateside that had such a rich story line. Almost every character dies, and you feel for each one of them. As you progress towards your goal of saving the world, seeing your favorite characters sacrifice themselves for you to continue meant you couldn’t stop till you got there. I am also guessing you still have some Final Fantasy 4 music on your ipod?

3. StarCraft- with Battle.net

Easily the one game that I have spent the most hours playing. Blizzard revolutionized RTS games with this entry. Not only was the game exciting to play by itself, it developed a community of gamers who supported the multiplayer mode with fresh new maps, multiplayer RPGs, clans, tournaments, and all of the online mayhem you could ever ask for. Part of the downside of Blizzard getting rich off of WoW is we may not see a sequel for a long time. Please? Blizzard?

2. Final Fantasy 7

The game that brought RPGs to the mainstream. Final Fantasy 7. If you played RPGs before FF7 came out, you were probably a closet gamer who had to pay $80 for a copy of Final Fantasy 6 for your Super Nintendo. But once Cloud and his gang came to the rescue on the Playstation, in a game that was originally supposed to release on the Nintendo 64, by the way, you were safe to come out of the closet! There with you were a few million other gamers who enjoyed what I consider to be the best story written for a video game, ever. As well as revolutionary FMVs, cut scenes, and an imaginative world which sucked you in from the beginning. I also appreciated the amount of Japanese culture they left in the game. I sort of wish they would keep more of that in the current round of games coming out.

1. World of Warcraft

Here it is. The best gaming experience available right now. World of Warcraft. It appeared on South Park, it has over 6 Million Subscribers (probably more by the time you read this), and it will consume your life, if you let it. It is the alpha and the omega. The perfected MMO as we know it. If you don’t currently own it, its because you’re scared. I will close by quoting Cartman, “Butters, go buy World of Warcraft, install it on your computer, and join the online sensation before we all murder you.”

Dave Trager

Rainbow Racing

rainbow.gifThis is not an easy cash-in follow up, that would come later with Bubble Memories and Symphony. Rainbow Islands is a full reimagining of its forbears play mechanic with rainbows replacing bubbles.

The game allowed itself a denser and initially more awkward control scheme. Rainbows could be both walked along and broken over enemies, which meant a new player would often struggle just getting around the screen. The experience was not dissimilar to the first few outings with Gran Tourismo, spend pulling unintentional donuts around the track.

gt.gifLike the driving game, with time the simplicity and single minded design of the control mechanism wins out. The player realises that it works this way for a reason, primarily to give them a more open and flexible play experience. After a while many of the familar bubble techniques can be performed with the rainbows and the player can deftly traverse the playfield.

Once this play scheme is proven to be a success Taito have then taken a leaf out of Nintendo’s book and turned their attention to replay-ability. Unseen in the playfield are levels of interaction that, once unearthed, make repeated plays essential to obtain a truely high score.

Bonuses: In addition to bonus items awarded for each kill, the player soon discovers that each level is litterally strewn with hidden items that can be unearthed by dropping rainbows at ground level.

Power-ups: Much like bubble Bobble, there was a whole world of causal pipes delivering a complex hierarchy of power-ups.

Diamonds: The final stroke of genious, playing to the strength of their theme was the ability to collect rainbow coloured diamonds. Moreso once the player realises that the colours awarded can be controlled by a carefully placed kill, and that collecting them in order was the only way to finish the game proper.

These add up to a rich play experience, much as the levels of tuning and driving does in Gran Tourismo. And the genius of it all is that they exist in the background of the play, tempting mini-achievements that can be drawn on at will, but never intrude on the main mechanic of rotund-ex-dragon-hero and his rainbow.

On the Bubble

bubblebobble3.gifThe simplest games can generate complex experiences. So goes the rhetoric behind Halo:

‘find a play mechanic that is enjoyable and then provide a context in which the player has reason to experience this multiple times’

However, long before Halo’s release in 2002, two little dinosaurs were proving the validity of this concept in the fixed screen platform game Bubble Bobble.

The main experience currency of the game was bob and bub’s bubble play. Their main interaction with the game world was by blowing, nundging, jumping on and finally poping bubbles. This simple mechanic enabled them to capture and kill enemies, ride air currents, climb walls and trigger chain reactions. Once understood this made even most basic levels offered interesting space to play and experiment with these moves.

Power-ups: The purity of this dynamic was always repsected even when offering enhancements to these abilities. A limited set of power-ups, much like the restricted weapon set in better modern games, altered the play without breaking it. A yellow sweet meant you could blow more bubbles, a purple sweet mean you could blow them further across the screen and a blue sweet increased their velocity. All the time the focus remained on the action of player and bubble.

Scoring: The scoring system again focused the action back on the player and bubble. Points were awareded for careful popping of multiple enemy bubbles, for jumping on bubbles, for popping bubbles. This meant that even the time between levels became playable, as the players would use different techniques to rack up a few extar points.

Levels: The clean levels, viewed in one screen, quickly became familiar. So much so that strategies could be planned when away from the game ready for the next session. Repeated play also revealed another aspect of these environments, the air currents that could carry your bubbles around. This opened up new possibilities for quick completion by craftly postioned chain of bubbles.

Collectables: In addition to all this, there was then the causal system of collectable items. Your action of dealing with bubbles and enemies triggers a string of power-ups. The realisation that you affect the game on this again makes the detail of how you perform your basic moves all the more important.

halo.gifThe play experience of these two little dinasaurs turns out to be no accident. The joy of a chain reaction, or the perfect bubble jump, or wall climb, or multiplier kill has all been intended from the outset. Evrything that may inhibit this experience has been cleared from its path, while features to enhance and focus the play have been carefully introduced.