By dankempster 8 Comments
Hey guys. Today brings with it part two of my Top 30 Games list. I won't ramble on with an excessive preamble. Just get stuck in to five more of the games that shaped me into the gamer I am today.
25. Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus
PlayStation (1999)I can still remember the moment I picked this game up. It was in 2000, in a convenience store in town. It cost me a paltry £9.99, incredibly cheap considering it was a new title. I didn't know what to expect going into Abe's Exoddus. I'd never played Abe's Odyssey, and was used to 2D platformers in the guise of Sonic the Hedgehog. What I got was a very pleasant surprise, and not just in the sense of a bargain. Abe's Exoddus is an incredible 2D platformer that checks all the right boxes. It has a gorgeous visual style that oozes originality, and boasts an entertaining story with a warped sense of charm. The gameplay is an enchanting mix of puzzle and platformer, with each set of Mudokons to rescue offering a challenging set-piece that the player has to solve through a mixture of possession and Gamespeak. It was a big game, too, with a total of 300 Mudokons to rescue across two discs. All this, and Abe's Exoddus wasn't even included as part of the intended Oddworld Quintology! The series' subsequently moved into 3D with Munch's Oddysee, but for me this will always be the definitive Oddworld game. I had so much fun with it that I can't help but include it in this list. Oh, and there's a fart button. You press it. And Abe farts. And if he's had a SoulStorm Brew, you can possess your own farts. And use them to blow stuff up. If that's not reason enough for putting this in the list, then I don't know what is.
24. Streets of Rage
Mega Drive (1991)I've never really cared for fighting games. As a result, you won't see any Street Fighters or Tekkens on this list, so I apologise for that. Despite this aversion towards pure beat-'em-ups, though, I used to be particularly fond of side-scrolling brawlers. I whittled away countless hours playing games like Altered Beast and Golden Axe on my Mega Drive, but the one that sticks out most in my memory is the original Streets of Rage. As far as gameplay goes, it followed the conventions of pretty much every other side-scrolling brawler on the Genesis at the time - one face button to jump, one face button to attack, and one button reserved for a special attack in the form of police back-up. What made it stand out for me as an impressionable kid was the style, I guess. The sprites looked good, and the environments were nice to look at as well, with some neat parralax scrolling. The music was funky and suited the game well. I played the sequels, but for some reason they just didn't stick with me as well as the original. Looking back on it now, I don't think I ever completed Streets of Rage. I can vividly remember making it to the level set on the boat on numerous occasions, but can't remember getting any further. Now that I have the Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection, I might have to go back to it and try to finally beat it.
23. Brian Lara Cricket '99
PlayStation (1998)Anybody who knows me will know that when it comes to sport, I only have two interests: cricket and darts. I've always favoured cricket over sports like football and tennis, probably because my dad has been playing it for as long as I can remember, and by extension so have I. I remember getting very excited about Brian Lara Cricket '99 when my dad brought it home from the local GAME store around ten years ago. It was a cricketer's dream, offering an array of national teams and several play modes, with everything from a ten-over quick match to a full test season on offer. The gameplay was fun for one person, but really came into its own in multiplayer, when two cricket enthusiasts dug into their trenches and prepared for war. The graphics were incredible for its time, boasting nice-looking players and breathtaking stadia. In spite of all the excellent features the game touted, though, it's the commentary that I remember most fondly. Featuring quotes from the legendary Sir Geoffrey Boycott, BLC99 was always going to be a winner. I don't think I'll ever get tired of hearing "sooper creeckeet!" in a thick Yorkshire accent. Other Brian Lara-endorsed games have been released since, but none have quite gripped me in the same way as this one. Maybe it's because of all the time I spent playing it with my dad, sharing in a faithful digital recreation of our favourite sport. That, or Geoffrey Boycott.
22. Gran Turismo 2
PlayStation (2000)I'm not much of a car person. Sure, I can appreciate a nice-looking motor, but I'm not into the whole technical side of things. Gran Turismo 2, however, almost turned me into a car person. Unlike most of the games on this list, I didn't play it at the time of release. Instead, I only discovered the game in 2007, somewhat by accident. I'd played later games in the series fleetingly, but could never commit to them for any great length of time. GT2, by contrast, completely hooked me from the get-go and didn't let me go until the completion percentage read 100%. Despite not being overly interested in tweaking my car in most racing simulations, I put the effort in to tune my vehicles in GT2 so they performed exactly the way I wanted them to. I soon found myself lost in the sheer depth of the game, exploring all sorts of things that had never grabbed me at all in other similar games. The racing gameplay itself may not have been intuitive like Gran Turismo 4, but it was solid and certainly rewarded a willingness to experiment with different cars and settings. The graphics must have been truly sumptuous back in its day, and they still look pretty impressive from a technical perspective today. Ultimately, GT2 made it onto this list because it made me care about what I was driving. No mean feat for somebody who isn't a car person.
21. Pro Evolution Soccer 2
PlayStation 2 (2002)As I've already said, I'm not much of a football person. I don't mind playing it, but I can't stand watching professional football. It irritates me that players are paid so much for what they do. Yes, they're talented, but they don't warrant that much attention. Anyway, back on topic, my favourite way to experience football is through the medium of video games. I talked about FIFA 99 earlier in the countdown, and now I'm going to address my personal favourite football game of all time - Pro Evolution Soccer 2, better known in the US as Winning Eleven 6. For me, PES2 marks the pinnacle of the series as a football simulation. It was released in 2002, at a time when the Pro Evolution Soccer franchise still had a relatively small cult following and wasn't directly competing with FIFA, leaving developers free to focus on what mattered - the football. It didn't look as nice as FIFA, nor did it offer licensed teams and competitions. That didn't matter to the people who played it, though, because PES2 offered some of the strongest gameplay witnessed in the series to date. In place of the official leagues was the all-encompassing Master League, something that easily consumed hours of my life back in the day. In fact, I think the only thing that consumed more of my time than playing PES2 on my own was playing PES2 with my friends. I sold my copy of the game some time ago to purchase a new incarnation of the series, and I frequently regret doing so. In fact, I'm thinking of buying the game again. Gameplay matters more to me than updated graphics and rosters, and the former is something that PES2 has in spades.
Thanks for reading the second part of my list. Part three will be going up tomorrow, so make sure to check back if you're interested in seeing what's moved past these games and broken into the top twenty. People who missed the first part of my Top 30 Games list can find numbers 30-26 right here. In the meantime, see you around.
Currently playing - Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Genesis Collection (X360)