ome games stand the test of time, some games are classics from the first moment you pick them up. Here are ten games that, under any circumstance, you should play before you shuffle loose this mortal coil. Feel free to add your own in the comments below.
10. Sensible Soccer
The single greatest football game ever created. You can take your realism and leave it at the side of the pitch, thank you very much; Sensible Soccer is the essence of football. The delightfully basic controls, the silly celebrations and the tinny roar of the crowd all build up an atmosphere that all the next gen graphics in the world can’t help to replicate. It may not play with the same level of acumen as some newer games, but the fluidity of the play is remarkable even now, and some of the player names are laugh out loud funny. It may not have the real life tie-ins, the big players or the correct leagues, but it’s fun, pure and simple fun.
9. Street Fighter 3: Third StrikeStreet Fighter 3 is the forgotten son of Capcom’s dynasty, largely ignored by the buying public and now massively overshadowed by its polygon hungry new sibling. The fact of the matter is, though, as brawlers go, this is amongst the best. Less accessible than any other Street Fighter game, this is a complex beast with move sets to match, as well as introducing the parry system, which adds another level of difficulty to an already rock hard game. A sizeable cast of characters, beautifully rendered sprites, some of the most delicious backgrounds ever created and the usual insane Capcom soundtrack all add up to an aesthetic experience that’s hard to beat. This is the thinking man’s beat ’em up, massive, tactical and more fun for it.
8. Chrono Trigger
The JRPG that still, to this day, defines JRPGs. It may look like standard fare, but beneath the sprites there lies a game that defies expectation at every turn, full of deep, engaging characters, and a story that rewards multiple play throughs. Far from the dull, amnesiac and angsty heroes of modern games, Crono is vibrant and full of life, a boy with wonder in his eyes who sets out on adventure with a skip in his step. The game set the standards for all the games that followed, and whilst the battle system does feel a little dated now, the joy of the game still shines through. Once you’ve played Chrono Trigger, you can’t help but feel its presence in almost every JRPG that came afterwards, and that’s an impressive feat.
7. Goldeneye 007
It may not have stood the test of time graphically, but Rare’s N64 masterpiece is still as enjoyable, and playable, as it ever was. The multiplayer is, perhaps, still the purest deathmatch experience you can have on a console, and the single player campaign is more innovative and fun than any movie adaptation has the right to be. Everything fell into place for Goldeneye to be a success: a developer at the peak of its powers, a console that packed a decent amount of wallop and a pad designed to allow three-dimensional movement for the first time. Goldeneye set the standard for FPS games, and still ranks in the top ten of that genre, a great achievement for a game that’s more than 12 years old. If you’re ever at a loose end for some gaming pleasure, then you can pick up an N64 and Goldeneye for less than a full price game nowadays, and that’s a bargain.
6. Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge
The first game may have had the swanky HD remake, but it’s the second one that perfected the already almost perfect formula. The story was bigger, better and, if I must, more badass, continuing the tale of Guybrush Threepwood and his battle against the undead pirate LeChuck. The point and click mechanics are all present and correct and the puzzles, spitting contests and conversations all unfold with the humour and whimsy you’d expect from a LucasArts adventure game. The game rests atop the pantheon of early 90s adventure games, and is just as funny now as it ever was.
5. Dreamfall: The Longest Journey
Proof that games don’t have to be about massive guns, burly space marines, but can be thoughtful, epic and beautiful, the sequel to The Longest Journey contains the sort of narrative drive usually only found in novels, as well as fully rounded human characters with motivation and interests rather than, you know, necks thicker than tree trunks and extra bits gaffer taped to their guns. The game creates an amazing universe for you to explore, and its mixture of adventure and action makes it stand out from the brown, blocky shooter crowd. It’s available as a download on the 360, and I’d recommend picking it up if you haven’t already. Dreamfall is a game that dares to be different, and succeeds on almost every level.
4. Quake 3
The ultimate multiplayer PC experience, Quake 3 is perfectly balanced weapons-based carnage presented in a package that was revolutionary for its time and is still good looking now. The sheer pace that battles fly by at is enough to leave you breathless, the weapons are ingenious and the levels showcase Id Software’s experience and talent at design. You can now play the game for free online as Quake Live, and to say its worth it would be the understatement of the year. The sheer pick up and playability of the title is remarkable enough, but when coupled with the excitement of being able to shoot your friends in the head with a rocket launcher, it creates something special. You won’t find a better, or purer, deathmatch experience this side of a blue moon.
3. World Of Warcraft
It’s entirely possible that you hate WoW with all the passion and fervour of a thousand burning suns, and you’re well within your rights to hold that opinion, but for all the rage directed against it, the sheer, majestic scope of Blizzard’s MMO stands as one of the greatest achievements of the digital age. There are some truly breathtaking moments, and whilst you may rail against the grind, the persistent world that has been created is as varied and exciting as any other, if not more so. There may be games that offer more in the way of customisation, there may be others that have more polygons, but World Of Warcraft has left them all weeping and bloodied in its wake. The community that Blizzard have built, alongside the delivery of a game mechanic that has now been copied so many times it’s almost a cliché, and the diversity of the content on offer have all created a game that is still played by millios upon millions of people some five years after its initial release.
2. Mario 64
Sometimes first steps are tentative, unsure and stumbling. Not this time, though. Nintendo’s mascot leapt into the third dimension with confidence and flair. Yet to be truly bettered, Mario 64 is still the template that most three-dimensional platformers build from. Never before had Mario felt so alive, or so vigorous. The levels played out with the sort of ingenuity that you’d expect from a Miyamoto product, all of them different and exciting and none of them feeling like anything that you’ve done before. Mario 64 is a benchmark in gaming, a title that changed the landscape forever and took an enormous jump into the future.
The simplest things in life are the best, and Ico is no different. A game about friendship and love, it challenges the preconceptions we have about vide games, as well as being stupidly enjoyable. A mix of platform and puzzler, it binds its action together with two unforgettable characters, leading you through their escape from a castle in which they have both been imprisoned. The co-operation between Ico and Yorda is at the heart of the experience, and by the end of the game you’ve become so attached to both of them that failure ceases to be an option. As their friendship grows, so does the affection you feel towards them. Ico is a masterpiece, subtle and undemanding, presented with the sort of consistency most development studios can only dream of. If you haven’t played this, then, quite simply, you are missing out on one of the best videogames that has ever been released.
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