By WickedCestus 4 Comments
I am sitting here having just played Nuclear Throne for the 2nd time and having just realized that Nuclear Throne is a game I may play over 98 more times during my lifetime. I have then began to think that I played some Important games over the course of 2014 (and the first few days of 2015). Some of these games I played before 2014 also, but now is the time of lists attached to years, and therefore here is a list attached to a year.
1 - Nuclear Throne
Nuclear Throne is a video game by Vlambeer Entertainment about shooting guys and dying. I have played two sessions of this game for a total of 48 minutes of gameplay. In my last life, I played as the diamond man and I reached level 5_3, and then a lot of things exploded, including me. This game can be compared to another video game: Binding of Isaac. In some ways, Binding of Isaac is a much heavier game. It is slower and your bullets adhere to the laws of gravity in an interesting way. However, Nuclear Throne is a shooting game that makes shooting a bullet that adheres to zero laws of gravity feel heavy. I have not checked whether shooting bullets in this game actually pushes your character back on-screen, but it pushed me back in my chair, and I found myself ~5ft away from my computer desk by the end of my last life. Very few shooting games treat shooting in the way that Nuclear Throne treats shooting. It is an absolute joy.
I have not played all the characters in this game. I have maybe played four, but I have determined that diamond man is the character that makes the game the most fun for me. Playing Nuclear Throne as diamond man is what I imagine playing Ikaruga is like (I have not played Ikaruga). Playing Nuclear Throne as diamond man makes you think about what enemy bullets really mean. Instead of simply being things to be avoided, they also provide a risky way to inflict damage to your opponents by reflecting the shots back. Playing as diamond man (I just looked it up and the official character name is "Crystal", which makes a lot more sense) makes you wonder why all single-player video games do not provide you with a shield at the very least, and a reflective shield at the very most. It is a great mechanic. It may be the greatest mechanic.
Nuclear Throne is a game I received for free, and I am thinking that it is probably the best game I have ever played without paying money for. (The demo for FIFA 10 is second, I think.) If you can find a way to get this game for free, I would recommend it. You may also want to buy it. Apparently, the game is not finished, but I am not sure what they can do to it, because as far as I'm concerned this game would be amazing even with just one randomly-generated terrain and four enemy types. (The bonus levels/parts in the game are good too. I am not implying the first tile-set/enemy types are the best. I am using hyperbole to say the game is good.) I have not reached the end of the game. I don't think the game ends.
2 - Castlevania (and Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (and not Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse))
I once put forward a theory that Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was the last real video game to be released. I have not thought about this theory in a long time, so I'm not sure if it actually holds up, but it seems pretty legitimate. This does not make Castlevania: Symphony of The Night the realest video game though, because Castlevania is the realest video game.
Castlevania is a game I play when I don't feel like playing video games anymore. When I hit the button and Simon Belmont flails his whip, it is the most satisfying moment of the year every single time. I hit a bat and the bat dies. I cry. Castlevania might be the greatest actual video game of all time. Castlevania is Dark Souls before Hidetaka Miyazaki was even born. Every time I find a chicken, I feel like an entire secret universe is being opened up to me, even though I already know where all the chickens are. When I use the time-clock and kill the Medusa head, I feel like the smartest guy in the world. When I use the Holy Water and kill the Grim Reaper, I think about the purpose of life. Even getting hit by an enemy and falling backwards gives me an absurd joy. I enjoy every moment of playing Castlevania. Sometimes, I turn around and duck on a tile, because it makes money appear. I know the money doesn't do anything, but I do it anyway because how cool is it that when you duck on certain tiles, money appears.
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest is probably not as good as Castlevania. Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse is definitely not as good as Castlevania. Castlevania II: Simon's Quest is a lot easier from a mechanical standpoint than Castlevania, though the actual feelings of whipping and jumping are almost exactly the same. Simon's Quest takes the money-ducking idea from Castlevania, and extends it into a whole game. When you play the game for the first time, the places you must go and things you must acquire are seemingly random. Your IQ would have to be at least 73 points higher than mine to actually turn the game's clues into hard objectives that one could attempt to complete. I completed Simon's Quest using a walkthrough. It felt silly. I felt kind of dumb. But Simon's Quest is such a great idea. I have not gone back and played Simon's Quest the way I have the original Castlevania, but as a game that exists in my head, it is almost genius. The ideas presented by Simon's Quest are so cool that they detach themselves from the actual act of playing the game and become their own imaginary game that I imagine to be probably the actual greatest actual video game of all time.
Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse is okay. I think they gave up.
3 - Euro Truck Simulator 2
In 2013, I made a list I entitled "Supermike6's Official Top Ten Games of 2013 List". Euro Truck Simulator 2 was supposed to be Number One on that list. I'm not sure why it wasn't. I placed it Number Seven, behind Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. Link Between Worlds wasn't even that good. I honestly don't know what I was thinking. That list wasn't official at all. Euro Truck Simulator 2 is the actual best game of 2013, and it is probably the greatest driving game ever made. This year, I got Forza Horizon 2, hoping that it would be a good driving game. But that Forza Horizon 2 is a racing game, not a driving game. Forza Horizon 2 does not feel like driving at all. It feels like playing a video game. I like video games a whole bunch, so I still enjoy and play Forza Horizon 2. As far as racing games with the number 2 on them go, DiRT 2 is still the best one. That's okay.
Euro Truck Simulator 2 purports to be a game that simulates driving a truck around Europe. I have never been to continental Europe, nor have I driven a truck. I have, however, been to England and Wales, and I have driven a car. As far as I can tell, Euro Truck Simulator 2 is a perfect video game simulation of what it is like to drive a truck around Europe. It looks like Europe, but more importantly, it feels like Europe. Green hills, large highways, signs with words on them that I don't fully understand. (Where the hell is Ausfahrt?).
I love to drive my car in real life. I love to drive my car to new places, because I don't have a GPS, and I try very hard to not get lost, but then I get lost. When I play EuroTruck 2, I turn off the GPS. I go to the World Map, and I use a real literal actual piece of paper and pen to write down directions on how to get from wherever I am to wherever I am going. I then drive using only this paper as my guide and see what happens. My trucking business is not the most efficient trucking business in Europe. It feels great to make it to the city I was trying to get to. It also feels great to make it to other cities I wasn't trying to get to.
In a lot of driving games, crashing is recommended; deemed okay; or vaguely frowned upon. In racing games, crashing is bad because it means you are not making it to your destination fast. In other driving games, you might get some damage to your car. In EuroTruck, crashing feels devastating. It costs a lot of money to repair your truck. Crashing means your delivery will not be on time, and you will lose money for damaged cargo. If you crash 5 minutes into a 1.5 hour drive (These times are real times. There are deliveries in this game that take actual real-life hours), you must drive the rest of that drive, and then at the end the company who hired you will laugh at you, and then take money from you, on top of the money that you already spent repairing your vehicle. I drive very carefully when playing EuroTruck. When I almost crash, it is a near-death experience. When I actually crash, I cry. I only want the best for my truck, and my customers.
4 - Super Mario 3D World
For some reason, whenever I try to refer to this game in real-life conversation, I call it New Super Mario 3D. That's unfair. Super Mario 3D World is a great name for this game because it's the best Super Mario game since Super Mario World. Super Mario as a series has changed a lot in the past 20 years. A lot of that change has come fairly recently, with the creation of the New Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario 3D series'. Old Mario is about challenging platforming levels that tested your reflexes and punished poor moves. New Mario is about secrets. (The period in-between this, from 64 to Galaxy 2, is called "In-Between Mario".) Super Mario 3D Land had many secrets. I would argue that Super Mario 3D World has even more secrets.
Super Mario 3D World makes it indescribably fun to fully explore relatively small worlds. Getting through the levels by itself in Super Mario 3D World is pretty good. In fact, it's pretty damn great. Mario jumps as well as he always has and the levels are beautiful and satisfying. I would talk about things that are surprising in 3D World, but I already have. I will quote myself:
"For example, in World 2-4: "Really Rolling Hills", there is a baseball. You can pick up this baseball and throw it at enemies. I did not expect this! The game surprised me again in World 2-5: "Double Cherry Pass", when I ran into a cherry and was suddenly in control of two Super Marios! Two Super Marios! Then, I picked up a second cherry, and a third and so on, until I had five Super Marios."
These are two moments in Super Mario 3D World when I was so ecstatic to be playing a video game that I felt like calling all my friends and telling them that video games are the best. Unfortunately, they were all out partying at clubs or whatever it is they do instead of playing Super Mario 3D World. They are not the only examples of this sort of moment; there are many more. For example, there is a suit in this game that turns you into a goomba. There is another suit that is Kuribo's Shoe, but instead of a shoe, it is an ice skate. There is a suit that makes your face into a cannon. You shoot face cannonballs at enemies. It's the greatest shooter of all time.
Of course, if we're talking about suits, I would be remiss to fail to mention the Most Important Mario Suit of All Time: the Cat suit. Cat Mario is the only video game character ever made that feels better than Super Mario. When you walk as Cat Mario, he walks like a cat would walk. It's very cute. Cat Mario also has the ability to glide through the air like Super-Man. I don't use it much. It's actually not good. If Cat Mario did not have this ability, he would be 34% better. Staggeringly, even with this ability, Cat Mario is the best video game character of all time.
Cat Mario's Number One Most Important Ability is the ability to climb walls. One might argue that this makes Super Mario 3D World easy. It kind of does. Super Mario 3D World is not a hard game. Kids can beat it. I didn't even know video games could be completed until I was fourteen years old. Damn kids. What climbing walls does to Mario 3D World is allow the level designers to be incredibly devious people, and hide green stars on top of walls that you must climb. When I play the game, I try to always be Cat Mario, and I climb every wall. Sometimes, I die because I am trying to climb a wall too much. Sometimes, the level timer runs out because I climbed too many walls. (I think the level timer is a dumb idea. It's okay though; in Captain TOAD they took it out. I think they're learning. (I would talk about the Captain TOAD levels in 3D World right now, but it would take me 100 years. Maybe later.)) Most of the time, climbing walls leads to more wall. One time, I climbed a wall and went above the clouds, and then walked to the left for five seconds and there was a green star there. I smiled. Those devious people.
These are the four most important video games I played in 2014 (and 2015). Happy New Year.