If you ask me what genre of game is my favorite its action games specifically Beat em' ups or what beat em' ups transitioned into in the modern era of more combo focused games such as Devil May Cry. They are by far my favorite genre and by far the games I'm best at. Ninja Gaiden 2 is one of the only games that I've ever actually posted a top score in as in... top of the world leader boards. When an action game like this works well I'm so entanced in the game that the controller is no longer an thing in my hand its an exention of the character I'm controlling on the screen. So....without further ado....
10. God of War
Oh, Kratos. How angry you are. I remember distinctly getting a God of War demo disc in the mail for (I think) being a member of the Playstation Underground (remember that shit kids?) and popping it in my system. I was pretty blown away by the demo never had I seen something like the Leviathan boss battle. The music was pounding and made you feel in the moment feel like the bad-ass that they were trying to convey Kratos as. I never did fall back in love with Kratos again. Sure, I played through God of War II and God of War III and they both had their moments but I don't think they captured the lightning in the bottle that was God of War. Oh, and we can probaly all blame David Jaffe for QTE's in gaming because between this and RE4 is what made QTE's well... a thing.
Any kid that goes to Disney World has memories that will last them a lifetime. Riding Space Mountain having the shit scared out of you on Tower of Terror, getting pictures with Mickey mouse oh and riding space mountain after eating and proceeding to vomit on space mountain... the list goes on and on. Oddly enough, one of the things I so attach to these memories of going to Disney World as a kid is Alien vs. Predator. A beat-em up made by Capcom in the 90's the game let you control a variety of characters none of which (to my knowledge) are tied to the Alien fiction. Oh... they don't matter you know what matters? You can play as a Predator. And not just ONE predator two different kinds of predators. I ended up finding this game inside an arcade in Disney and was instantly drawn to it. I plopped quarter and quarter into it feeling super bad-ass as my predator dude ripping up them alien motherfuckers. I was still playing endlessly enthralled by the game when I had my world of cool interrupted by my mother telling me that we needed to leave. NO MOM I DON'T WANNA RIDE THE TEACUPS I'M KILLING ALIENS. I've only managed to find this game in arcades a few times after that and any time to this day that I see it I will go out of my way to play a few rounds.
Hey Battletoads, fuck you. No, really....fuck you. I really don't ever think I saw past the 3rd might have been 4th stage of this game. Anyone who played this game knows man.... they know pain... they know tears and suffering. Has anyone ever legit beat this game cause fuck it man I haven't met anyone. I never owned the game because well back when I had my NES I didn't get many games of my own but I sure managed to beg my mother endlessly to rent games every damn time we went to the grocery store because yes...for years my local grocery store actually rented games and movies out. Fucking weird right? Anyways it had a sweet ass toad with mucles on it and you know that motherfucker is serious because he has spikes all over what amounts to clothes. What kid in the early 90's woudln't want to play that? Nobody thats who because this is the shit you played if you wanted to be cool. Which "cool" meaning among the other 3 guys in your class that were nerds and actually talked about video games.If you don't know what battletoads is I suggest you go find a way to play it because its great you play as one of the afformentioned spiked out tough ass frog men and you go around beating the shit out of stuff. The game did feature some pretty neat mechanics though.
One such cool thing was a section early on in the first level where you ended up getting the first person perspective of I guess a mech or security robot of some sort. Screen turns red and your have to pick up objects and throw them AT the screen. Whoa crazy right?! Well back then I thought so. Today the game play might not hold up as being nearly as fun as it once was but those toads are still fucking bad-ass motherfuckers and you also still will probably NOT get past the 3 or 4th level. Playing games like this as a kid is why I can beat hard mode on most games today without batting an eyelash.
You wanna know why I own a Wii? This game right here. You wanna know why despite selling almost all my games I still have kept my Wii? Yeah, same answer. When I saw this trailer debut for this game something instantly clicked in my head the wii had all this fancy motion control and this guy basically had a rip-off lightsaber cutting dudes up. To me the dream of the wii was to get a cool ass lightsaber game. I mean that is kind of the dream right? Who doesn't want their own lightsaber? I got some of that but what is more is I got a game that I really treasure for many reasons. First off and most notebly is the characters. I've always been a big fan of Metal Gear Solid and I instantly got a MGS vibe from this game not from anything that had to do with the gameplay but because of how eccentric all the boss characters are. Each one is very different and has their own "kink" to them. Suda turned a few stereotypes on their heads as well such as Bad Girl one of my favorite characters in the game.
Surface level you see beauty and you see "just another sexy video game girl". In reality though Bad Girl turns that entire stereotype upside down. She is in fact a very ugly person. Her beauty only masks her true self a murderous psychopathic sadist with zero regard for life of any kind. As is pretty quickly demonstrated as she cracks bound men in gimp suits one by one in the head killing them as they fall into a pit below. Cursing, beer swilling she is the exact opposite of what you would expect to find. The rest of the cast is equally nuts often commenting and deconstructing stereotypes within gaming and gaming culture. There is a great detailed analysis here breaking down the entire plot of you want to read it. The combat while not incredibly deep again hearkens back to the fact that yo...I wanna cut dudes up with a lightsaber. Suda however doesn't make the waggle the focus of the game but yet the punctuation that you end a fight with. Its a smart move that make playing on the Wii controls probably the more preferable way to play even though you can totally buy No More Heroes Paradise and play with a Dual Shock now.
This was a game I was seemingly waiting forever to get a hold of. I remember some retailers leaked it early and I stayed up for hours one night watching a half busted Justin.tv stream where a guy was playing through the game. I was excited and well... it (mostly) lived up to the hype. I'm not going to lie the game had issues and major ones. Frame rates came to a halt in some areas other random glitches abounded it was obviously clear that this was not Team Ninja's best work. And then like clockwork not soon after the game was released Tomonobu Itagaki left team ninja. Team Ninja who was pretty infamous for delaying games multiple times until they felt that they got it "right" let one slip through and after Itagaki's departure the picture became clear. Despite a rather troubled development cycle with a team that was under constant strife from in-fighting a decent product still emerged.
The combat system was changed I won't say for the better because honestly to me Ninja Gaiden and Ninja Gaiden 2 feel very different. The pacing is different. While NG and NGB were fast paced games they were also lower enemy counts and more of a slightly passive or defensive playing game. In Ninja Gaiden 2 offense is your defense. Obliteration Tenchniques were introduced and the importance of abusing the holy hell out of invincibility frames on higher dificulties to survive was key. The game was pretty unforgiving at higher difficulties and I'll admit kinda unbalanced but that still didn't dissuade me from beating some of the harder settings the game had to offer. As much negativity as I've talked in this article about it I really do love the game. Its the last mark Itagaki left on Tecmo and many of the ideas were improved and expanded in Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 but that was a direct result of the work Itagaki and the team that left with him did. It still also ranks among the goriest of games that I've ever played. If Ryu sneezed in this game someones arm would explode. Which helped fuel the brutality of the kills. It was especially awesome whilst slicing down werewolves in venice. And as mentioned before I did a number of score runs on the game a few that got some pretty decent top of the leader board sort of scores. A fun but flawed gem. Its super cheap now so if you own a 360 you should pick this up.
So I know this game gets a ton of hate. Some people think Nero was too whiny while others just hate the backtracking. Well, fair assessment I guess. Although, you do a fair amount of backtracking in DMC 3 and DMC 1 as well...just saying. Regardless of the haters I loved this game. I mean, I really loved this game. I played it for a month straight replaying levels over and over getting "S" ranks on quite nearly every mission. I almost have every achievement outside of a few of the Bloody Palace achievements and "S" ranking a few DMD missions that I never quite got around to doing. I really thought Nero added something to the game. I called playing as nero "finger Olympics" for the simple fact that doing high level combos is a pretty insane task with him considering all of the systems in play. His "revving" mechanic for his sword and his charge gun. Which means you had to constantly be charging his gun while hitting revs with sword swings while being able to jump and use his devil bringer. Possible... but man... there was some finger contortions that happened. The cool thing was it allowed for things like this.....
Dante was equally as awesome and is arguably at his most ridiculous ever even topping some DMC 3 moments. Further innovations to Dante's fighting also led to some great combat now letting you switch styles mid-combo. I'm looking forward to whatever Ninja Theory comes out with with DmC but I'm also sort of bummed Nero was introduced and then well...sort of scrapped I guess. Another game that is also pretty damn cheap at this point and well worth checking out.
Okay, so being a kid from the 90's the Turtles HAD to make it on this list somewhere. Turtles in time is by far the best of the bunch when it comes to turtles games. The specific version I'm talking about is the arcade version. Nothing beat standing at the TMNT cabinet at the local bowling alley with 3 of your bros laying the smacketh down on some foot-soilder ass. Its also got what has to be one of the coolest soundtracks in a beat-up-up ever. Hence all the fucking outrage at all the shit that was changed in the XBLA version. I mean listen to this.
That shit is awesome. It needs to be on repeat in my brain for fucking ever. Even still at 27 years old I'll randomly just start humming the damn TMNT theme song. Also, anyone else a Donatello guy? That staff man...love that staff! Mikey's nunchacku were pretty dope as well but that staff is OP brah. The time travel setting allowed for a great deal of variety in levels too. Prehistoric level a level on a pirate ship among many others again... all with one of the best damn soundtracks man. It something that is honestly hard to put into words but it just has that quintessential "it" factor for a beat em' up. Still really fun even today although seeing a machine out in the wild is pretty rare these days.
So, I can already hear some screams right now. I know many claim that Bayonetta is the de facto standard of combat in games like these now days. You would have a pretty good case for that as well seeing as this has the blood of a DMC game buried inside of it. I was a pretty early supporter of this game all around. Crazy witch lady with guns on her feet? Yes please. Oh, and she uses her hair for magic attacks AND her hair also acts as her clothes? Even better. Bayonetta is a example of why I still love Japanese game design. You rarely ever see such ludicrous concepts out of a western studio. Not saying that its impossible. I mean look what Saints Row 3 did for open world games. However, Japanese game developers seem to be always driven by an idea and they follow that idea all the way like a captain going down with his ship. Bayonetta was a breath of fresh air to the genre who had largely seen Kratos,Ryu Haybusa and Dante fighting it out for top dog.
The jazzy soundtrack helped accentuate Bayonetta's sensual movements through the battlefield. The combat is spot on as well. Not even some fighting games have some of the exactly frame specific timing for some moves. One of the other amazing and innovative things was the ability to strap weapons to your hands AND feet allowing you do mix and match and further personalize your playstyle. Before I put the game down for good I must have played through each section of the game dozens of times. This is the last game of its kind that I remember putting as much time into. I even at one point lost all of my save data but ended up restarting the game entirely without really caring about the loss of my data. Losing it was a bummer but it just gave me another reason to play again, to improve scores to see the crazy cut-scenes again. Speaking of crazy the level of crazy througout the game keeps getting amplified to the point where well... if you haven't played the game the final boss fight is a sight to behold I don't wan't to spoil it. The entire experience was one of the more amazing ones of this generation which is why it is up so high on my list. I REALLY hope Platinum Games gets to make a sequel to this. I would love another date with Ms. Bayonetta. Oh...and this game also had some damn catchy tunes and one of the best fucking ending sequences ever. DANCE PARTY!!!!
Devil May Cry 3 HAD to be good. If it wasn't it was going to be the end of the series as Devil May Cry 2 was such a confusing failure that it was almost surprising to see DMC 3 come out so strong. It did and it STILL holds up as one of the best games out there. If you have 30$ go buy the HD DMC collection. This game alone is worth every penny. You play as a young Dante who is about the most cocky motherfucker ever seen in a video game at this point. Mind you, Dante has always had a cocky streak but hes nearly at that "guy showing off for the ladies that you just want to punch" sort of cocky. Yet it really works for him and ends up really solidifying Dante as one of the top characters in gaming. (Well, if you ask me anyway) We are also sort of re-introduced to Vergil his brother who while is equal parts cocky is not nearly as brash flamboyant about it as his brother is. DMC 3 first introduced the "styles" system adding another layer of strategy and depth to the combat of Devil May Cry. You can turn into a clone, stop time, preform , crazy gun tricks and more. And you definitely need all of those skills as this was and as far as I'm concerned STILL is one of the hardest games out there. So hard in fact that Capcom re-released the game in North America as a "Special Editon" as the original version saw North America's "Normal" mode being equal to japan's "Hard" mode. The bosses are the real treat though fights such as Agni and Rudra or Beowulf are fantastic and really put you on pins and needles as you dodge attacks fully knowing that a wrong move could lead you to a game over screen. The climax of all these boss fights is without a doubt the duels with Vergil. They are among my favorite boss battles of all time. No gimmicks to learn its just pure combat at its best.
So hey, what can I say? I'm a Ninja Gaiden kind of guy. Don't get me wrong I adore every game on this list but this is my favorite game of this genre and pretty much tied with Dragon Age: Orgins as my favorite game of all time. The number of play throughs I've done at this point escape me however... its a lot. I truly believe that this has THE most balanced combat of any of any modern action game around. I remember getting Ninja Gaiden sometime many years ago. I had just ordered a Xbox off of Ebay and went to Gamestop to buy a bunch of games for the system when it arrived. I picked up a number of titles that the Xbox was known for including Fable and Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic. I had read good things about Ninja Gaiden but honestly didn't know exactly what it was. It was suppose to be good so I bought it.
The system arrived sometime after and I started to play the game. I quickly realized how hard the game was. Every fight I ended up using health items I could barely get to the first boss much less get close to beating him. Over the next few weeks I inched my way through the game up to stage 3. There I got stuck on the boss of that level Dynamo. I'm sure you know him if you've played the game. Big old' fat motherfucker with a huge gun. You fight him on top of a air ship traveling to the vigoor empire. The fight was kicking my ass over and over. I finally threw in the towel. I was done. I put the game on the shelf and walked away. The game stayed on my shelf for a few months after never being touched. Then one day I decided to try it again. I picked up where I left off again and yet again I was brutally rebuffed by the game. That's when I decided that I was going to do this. I wasn't just going to beat Dynamo i was going to destroy him. So I did the unthinkable I erased my save. The save I had worked on for those weeks plugging away hours of attempts.
What followed is a learning process. I learned the game I slowed down and finally understood the flow of combat I started to read enemies and learn combos wait for openings instead of just trying to mash my way through. I kept learning. I learned to use my shurikens to stun lock opponents. I learned to OLUT (on-landing ultimate technique) , I learned how you should manage essence in a fight. Sometime there after I made it to that ending screen. And you know what I did after the ending screen faded back into the title screen. I started again. This time on Hard. Then I beat hard...then very hard and finally master ninja. Like a master doling out tough love the game had taught me to be a better player and I've never felt the amount of reward that I felt when I finally beat Master Ninja on NGB. I think honestly anyone who has the patience can learn to play and beat Ninja Gaiden Black at the highest of difficulties because the game is I feel one of the most balanced games I've ever played. You can learn something from every defeat and that makes the victories so much sweeter. Ive also really grown to like Ryu Hayabusa as a character. Sure, he isn't very talkative but he doesn't need to be he slices motherfuckers up with his sword and as we all know actions speak louder than words. Its interesting and somewhat disappointing to see where the series went after this game because none of the other games come close to this level of perfection. Ninja Gaiden 2 *might* have gotten there had it not been for the troubled environment that it was developed under.
It doesn't necessarily have the same level of flash as a Bayonetta or DMC or a story that makes any sort of goddamn sense but the raw flow and feel of the combat is in my humble opinion unmatched even today. And that is why it remains as one of my favorite games of all time.