Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Top 5 games of 1994

I’ve been a gamer for most of my life, having lived through the third generation of gaming (NES)
upwards. Over 25 weeks, I will list my top 5 games from 1990 – 2015. 
Here's 1994
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (Mega Drive)sonic 3
Instead of describing Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (which is basically a slightly less fun version of Sonic 2 – I found it to be too ‘busy’ at times, making it difficult to keep track of what’s happening) I’d like to share a story about the game – Not many know this but Michael Jackson was originally commissioned to compose the music for the game. Sega pulled out after his child abuse allegations came to the fore. Apparently the credit music was the inspiration for one of his songs, ‘Stranger in Moscow.’
sonic 3
Sonic and Knuckles (Mega Drive)
Sonic and Knuckles reads a lot like modern DLC. Originally developed to be included in Sonic 3, it didn’t make the cut because of time constraints. It released with a physical feature called lock-on technology which allowed you to play through Sonic 3 as Knuckles and to play as Tails in Knuckle’s game. For a kid like me, this was nothing short of pure magic, and breathed new life into my older games.
sonic and knuckles
Earthworm Jim (Mega Drive)
This is the second consecutive year that one of David Perry’s games made my list (he also worked on Aladdin the previous year). I got Earthworm Jim as part of a second-hand bundle (I can’t remember what the other game was). The game was unlike anything I played before. As a kid, you don’t really understand what ‘tongue-in-cheek’ meant, but you did recognize when something was trying to subvert the status quo… and Earthworm Jim did this in spades – you had to rescue someone named ‘Princess What’s-Her-Name’, who gets crushed by a cow as you approach her after the final boss. You also fight a goldfish and a conjoined monkey-headed scientist. To say this game was weird is like saying Max Payne liked the occasional swig. I also remember this game being really difficult. Did you find it tough?
earthworm jim
Donkey Kong Country (SNES)
Part of Rare’s golden era, Donkey Kong was an important weapon in Nintendo’s fight against Sega and Sony’s fledgling 32-bit contender (more on this console in later years). Through the use of a silicon graphics workstation, Rare were able to develop a swansong for the then-dying console (think God of War 3 for the PS3). I’m a huge platform guy and big fan of the series (I am currently playing Tropical Freeze on the Wii U). Donkey Kong Country is to this day, the second highest-selling game for the console and a must-play for any avid retro gamer.
donnkey kong country
Lion King (Mega Drive)lion king
Lion King was my life in ’94. No other animated movie has since come close to dethroning it. I had the VHS, the song books, even those little white marbles with the cheap stickers that peeled off after a week. I remember seeing a review for the game on KTV (I might be wrong) and thinking, this game is legit (I didn’t have too much experience with games where your character evolved over time – in this case, from cub too hyena-slaughtering bad-ass). GamePro slated the game, saying it was too repetitive… but they were wrong (more wrong than when Colin Powell told the UN that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
lion king
So these are my top five games that were released in 1994. Join me next Tuesday as I go through my favourite games from 1995. Leave a comment and let me know which were your favourite games from the nineties.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Top 5 games of 1993

I’ve been a gamer for most of my life, having lived through the third generation of gaming (NES) upwards. Over 25 weeks, I will list my top 5 games from 1990 – 2015. To ensure consistency, here are the rules I will be following
  • I will only write about games I’ve played (which means)
  • Even though I played most of these games a few years after they released, I will stick with the year they were released (otherwise this list will be all over the place)
  • Some games may have been released at different times for different regions. When this happens, I will use the year related to the version I’ve played
  • Due to the second rule, it does mean I won’t be able to list gems like Super Mario Brothers and Circus Charlie
This week I will highlight 1993.
Battletoads and Double Dragon (NES/ Mega Drive)
Videogame crossovers are very popular, with Smash Brothers, Marvel vs Capcom and Kingdom Hearts bringing together beloved IPs (usually to beat each other up). Battletoads and Double Dragon is widely considered as the granddaddy of crossovers and is probably the first major crossover game. Battletoads were created by Rare (of Goldeneye fame) as a response to the green behemoth known as TMNT, adding the two belligerent brothers to the  mix (and their associated enemies) was like adding chocolate pieces to vanilla ice-cream. The more chocolate you add, the better it tastes.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (NES/SNES/Mega Drive)
So this is the third week in a row that I’ve highlighted a TMNT game, which is testament to what a huge fan I was. Perhaps it’s a generational thing. TMNT: Tournament Fighters was an above average fighting game (nothing spectacular like the game below). What was remarkable was that Konami developed three different versions (NES, SNES and Mega Drive) with different characters for each one. They didn’t call it console exclusives or anything – it was what it was. To be fair, this slot should have went to Mortal Kombat 2, which went on to become quite an iconic title in its own right. I just have fonder memories of TMNT: Tournament Fighters.
Super Mario All-Stars (SNES)
Super Mario All-stars is an anthology of arguably the three best NES games of all time, and Super Mario Bros 2. The original Super Mario Bros is timeless. It’s the only game I’ve played every single year for the past two decades (It’s like Undertaker’s Wrestlemania streak before Brock Lesnar crushed our collective childhoods). Super Mario Bros 3 was voted the best game of all time by IGN, and Super Mario Bros: The lost levels added new levels that weren’t available outside of Japan. What made these games special was that they were remasters done right, upgrading the visuals for the 16-bit era. I have yet to meet a gamer who has not played Super Mario Bros, but if you are reading this, then it is absolutely criminal if you do not play this game.
aladdinAladdin (Mega Drive)
By now you should have a fairly decent hold on what I enjoy, and it shouldn’t surprise you that a licenced platformer makes the list. I was a huge Aladdin fan growing up (well, huge Disney fan, but that’s about as remarkable as having an e-mail address so I shouldn’t bother highlighting it). You tend to overlook the stereotypes when you’re a kid (the pastiche of commodified cultures all thrown together like an oriental biryani). Aladdin was a great game that hit all the spots. Interesting fact – it’s the third-best selling mega drive game after Sonic 1 and 2.
Samurai Shodown
Japanese fighting games were all the rage back in the early nineties. Street Fighter opened the doors for a multitude of variations on the old ‘beat someone to a pulp’ mechanic. Samurai Shodown stood out for me because it focused on weapons. Samurai Shodown was not only critically acclaimed (winning multiple ‘game of the year’ awards), it was also quite authentic (although now that I think about some of the characters, I’m not so sure). This was probably the spiritual ancestor to games like Soul Calibre. Like all fighting games, I completely ignored the main dude (I will cheer for my own guy thank you).
So these are my top five games that were released in 1993. Join me next Tuesday as I go through my favourite games from 1994. Leave a comment and let me know which were your favourite games from the nineties.