10 Games I Think Everyone Should Play

Feeling tired and lazy today, so I’m just going to list a whole bunch of games I think everyone should play. Also, I started occasionally streaming MVC3 games on my Justin.tv channel, so if you want to see why I’m always writing about MAHVEL BAYBEE just go check it out. There’s a few hours of footage up there from Saturday already.

  1. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. I’ve been riding Nate’s ass to play this for a few weeks. It’s a damn fine game, and the fact that it feels like not just one complete game, but two complete games (in a good way, not an 80 hour grindfest way) is a testament to its game design. It’s also got this splendidly haunting gothic atmosphere that none of the subsequent Metroidvanias have really managed to nail it like SotN did.
  2. Mega Man X, Mega Man Zero, Mega Man ZX. There are a certain set of 2D platformers that are largely about the joy of moving in 2D space (Also see Sonic, Super Metroid, and some of the Mario games). Personally, I always found the various Mega Man X games to be the best at this. Running, shooting, flying, dashing–each of these games have a slightly different take on how Mega Man and Zero can wreck your shit. Note that I wouldn’t play all 10+ cumulative games in each of those series (though I’ve gotten pretty close). One of each would suffice.
  3. Phoenix Wright. I’m a huge fan of the Ace Attorney series. It’s more like a choose-your-own-adventure book than a proper Video Game, and that’s what I like about it. Basically, even though there are “winning” and “losing” conditions, it just plays like a good book, and shows how far a game can come based solely on its writing and narrative alone.
  4. Ridge Racer. I’ve never been big on racing games, but I come back to the original Ridge Racer every few years. Never mind that it’s more or less various versions of the same level, with minimal difference in cars, and my best times inevitably come down to how well I can do in the Galaga mini-game. It’s the essence of a racing game to me. (Bonus points for Ridge Racer 4 for the soundtrack.)
  5. The World Ends With You. It’s emo as all hell and if you don’t care about collecting and grinding endless amounts of crap you can probably blaze through it in a day of solid play, but it’s an awesome game. In some respects, it’s not much more than a standard Japanese RPG with some interesting gesture-based game mechanics, but I love the way you slowly master and exert ownership of your space (in this case, Shibuya) and explore Neku’s feeling of loneliness and isolation in a busy, busy city.
  6. Disgaea. Final Fantasy Tactics was the game that defined the turn-based strategy genre for me, but Disgaea was the one that did it the best. I leveled up my FFT characters by surrounding the last enemy remaining so he couldn’t move, and let each member of my team alternately attack, heal, and steal XP from him for 20 minutes. As it turns out, this was completely unnecessary in FFT because there are so many ways you can beat the hell out of the game without it. Disgaea swaps out the overwrought FFT plot for a simple, if compelling, story, and takes the turn-based strategy genre to its logical extreme–a never-ending grindfest that rewards every single way you can possibly think of to game the system. Play Disgaea and you’ll never have to play another turn-based strategy.
  7. Any modern Grand Theft Auto game. You can run over civilians! Kill hookers after having sex with them in your car, and steal their money! The non-game-playing public was outraged. People who had played GTA, on the other hand, didn’t think it was a big deal because that’s what you do in GTA. It’s not like you choose between killing the hooker and taking her money or making an honest woman out of her–GTA is about playing games in a world that’s full of other people who don’t matter because it’s all about you.
  8. Quake III Arena/Quake Live. The modern FPS market has, by and large, gone towards the pursuit of “realism”–and I put that in quotes because games like Call of Duty aren’t less-than-realistic because we lack the technology to make it more so, but because they’ve found the maximum acceptable level of realism that keeps the game somewhat fun. “Realism” is code for a few themes–almost-obsessive firearm fetishism, contemporary setpieces, and most of all, a certain in-game weight on your death. Quake III Arena was the last great FPS that says Fuck It. While my buddies were playing Counter-Strike or Rainbow Six or any one of a dozen wanna-be squad-based stealthy shooters, I was playing deathmatches on q3dm17. I love my bounce pads, my rocket launchers and rail guns, my instant respawn, and my oh-so-crunchy Quad Damage. There’s nothing in Q3A that would ever be realistic, and that’s why it’s a shining example of a first-person shooter.
  9. Metal Gear Solid 3. (As an aside, I’m beyond stoked for the 3DS remake.) Despite the above entry, I don’t hate games that are “realistic” or emphasize “stealth-based gameplay”. Not all of them, anyway. I’m a big MGS fan (though I’ve only played 1-3, and I hear I’m better off for it), and I think that anyone who says “if I wanted a plot or a story or good writing, I’d watch a movie” should be forced to watch Goldeneye, then play Metal Gear Solid 3. Not because the plot and story and writing are THAT GOOD (though I think they are) but because MGS3 is in fact excellent at things that spy movies are excellent at (intrigue, stealth, suspense, action) in ways that only a video game could be.
  10. Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. Like it or not, World of Warcraft and its MMO ilk are an integral part of our cultural landscape–not just for gamers, but for the entire world. Some people will say that you have to have played WoW before you can judge it. I disagree. Instead, I would suggest that you have to have played Diablo II: LoD before you can judge WoW. Everyone needs to play Diablo II, waste 8 hours trying to solo through the campaign mission by mission with your starter character, figure out the hard way that you’re doing it wrong and start a new character that relentlessly kicks ass by min/maxing and specializingin a skill tree, lose that character on Hell difficulty when all monsters have at least one elemental immunity, start yet another character that is just specialized enough and grind them to level 90 during a single day, spend a month of your life doing item runs, succumb to the creeping realization that you’re wasting your precious free time chasing around virtual items that help your virtual character more easily chase virtual items, become a nihilist, and then stick to playing only in Hardcore mode.


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2 Responses to 10 Games I Think Everyone Should Play

  1. Pingback: 5 Games (Not) Everyone Should Play | Palette Swaps

  2. Pingback: Let’s Play! | Palette Swaps

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