Most Personally Memorable/Favourite Games (41 – 50)

So, let’s start this all of with numbers 41 – 50:

50:  Summer Games/Summer Games II

I forgot about this game (games?) the last time around, but was reminded of it when I picked up a bunch of old classic console thingies.  Getting those games was indeed one of the big drivers behind getting the C64 console, since I knew that at least I’d want to play the various Epyx games again, and this one in particular.

The Epyx games are probably the best of the various games that tried to emulate the Olympics.  Summer Games and Winter Games are the ones that did that explicitly, while other games like World Games and California Games built on the model to allow for games that you wouldn’t see in the Olympics.  The basic idea, of course, is to have a number of competitors — that were usually intended to map to players — compete in a number of events.  If you competed in one event, the winner was awarded the gold medal, second place the silver, and the third the bronze.  If you did more than one, then it totaled medals across all events and the person with the highest “score” (golds counted for more than silvers which counted for more than bronzes) was declared the overall winner.  The events used a variety of mechanisms, some of which were harder on joysticks than others (the 100m dash, for instance, required rapidly waggling the joystick, while skeet shooting was obviously far more restrained).

Of course, this was one of the first games where I played on my own by creating multiple players using the names of my friends.  You would have thought that since I was pretty much as good as myself in all events that this would result in a lot of ties, but the race events and even gymnastics had me often enough not get things quite the same so that the scores didn’t quite work out.  The only one that I recall being terrible for that was skeet shooting, where whomever missed one skeet pretty much didn’t get a medal in that event.  Still, again, my performance tended to be just inconsistent enough that not everyone got the gold in every event, making for some close competitions for the overall title … and no, the one on top wasn’t always or even usually the character named for myself [grin].

Summer Games II includes all the Summer Games games as well as some new ones, but the original is the one I played the most.  It’s the only one that makes the list because I never really had the other games to play either, and when I did play them the classic events tended to be more fun.

49:  Saint’s Row the Third

This was one of the games that I managed to finally get around to playing and finishing this year in the afternoons/evenings after “work”.  The best thing about the game was that it worked wonderfully in that role, and I haven’t found anything close to it (and IV) since.  Whether this would make the list or end up in my honourable mentions was debatable, though, because I liked parts of it and disliked parts of it.

This game, for those who don’t know it, is basically the type of open-world gangster game in the vein of Grand Theft Auto (which I’ve never played).  You get to insanely customize a character known as “The Boss” and then you step into a world where you can do lots and lots of things, and also where you have to go through some sort of story as well to end the game.  Unlike Grand Theft Auto, the game doesn’t take itself at all seriously, even in the story sections.  “The Boss” is pretty much a psychopath using violence to solve their problems, and all of their companions are pretty much the same.  This, then, makes the over-the-top violence more tolerable as we aren’t supposed to be thinking that this stuff is the way the world works or wondering if these people are heroes or villains.  They’re the people you play as to get to do the funny things in the world.  That’s it.

I really liked the driving part of this game.  I enjoyed running out to buy a store or do a quick mission or two and then running back to the hideout to dodge the gangs or police — or both — that I had offended.  The open world missions tended to be fun and easy to manage.  On the other hand, the story missions tended to involve, well, things that you’d normally see in games like this, and I’m not a fan of games like this, so the multi-stage protect missions tended to annoy me and I tended to, at least at times, not easily see the tricks to beat them.  So the game ended up being a mixed bag.

Still, driving around the city listening to my mix tape was really fun.

48:  Aliens

I was reminded of this game after watching the movies again.  I think I might have survived the game once or twice, but what really struck me about the game when I remembered it and why it makes the list now is because of its structure.  It has a really strong structure for a movie tie-in, especially one like “Aliens”, as it divides the game up into multiple sections that each represent some of the more interesting moments in the game.  It doesn’t simply ape the movie sections, but instead builds out different gameplays that you could say are “inspired” by the movie scenes so that you both get to explicitly play in the movie’s context while not being forced into crappy gameplay because the movie section doesn’t really fit into what the game wants.  So you get varied gameplay and yet get the scenes from the movie as well as a strong reference point (the James Bond tie-in “A View to a Kill” did the same thing, but I didn’t care for that one as much).

Also, the music they had while you were trying to bring the dropship down for a landing on the planet was really cool.

47:  Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors

I picked up “The Nonary Games” in general because I liked the idea of an escape room video game.  “Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors” was the first game in the series, and so the first one that I played.  It mixes visual novel style conversations and choices with escape room sections, which I guess means that I have to say that there are visual novels that I like.  There are, of course, two main issues that I have with visual novels, which are that often they have limited interactivity (and so all I’m doing is reading, which I can do without having to have a game for that) or that the gameplay elements are poor and uninteresting.  The escape room elements are pretty fun in this game, and while the story sections can drag the story and characters are usually interesting enough to get me through it.  I also really like the multiple endings and the fact that you need to hit bad endings in order to get the good endings, so it encourages you to replay the game — and thus do the rooms that you skipped the last time — in order to get the full story.  So going back to do the rooms that you missed the first time isn’t something you do just to do it, but you get rewarded by finding out more of the story in doing so.  So if you like the story and like the escape rooms, you have more than enough reason to go and replay it.

Of course, without the ability to hop to the key choices in rooms you’ve already done — which is how the game worked originally — this wouldn’t work, as you’d have to do all the escapes that you’ve already solved just to advance the story, which would be boring, and also have to see all the story elements you’ve already seen.  But revamped as it was, it really worked for me, which is why it made the list.

46:  Virtue’s Last Reward

I, uh, already talked about the game series, didn’t I?  So there isn’t much to say about this game other than to link to where I played it, I guess?

Well, no, there’s a reason this game came out ahead of 999, and it’s because this one has more philosophical implications.  999 had everyone trying to work together to escape, with competing agendas and personalities potentially leading to deaths and foiling that.  It introduced a section where they believed that only some of them could escape that raised some tension, but that was the standard tension that you’d see in, say, a suspense or horror movie with that premise.  Virtue’s Last Reward based the main story choices on a Prisoner’s Dilemma situation, and had the characters debate what the right approach was.  This is what led to my musing on how it really should work and pointing out the issues with assuming that betrayal is the rational move in that position, and probably contributed to my position — that, to be fair, I was already pretty much ascribing to — that the major Game Theory problems result from us not considering what the other person will do when considering what the rational move is, which is itself irrational.  It also, of course, continued on with notions of a deadly virus and multiple worlds, elevating its story — like 999 — above simple and basic premises like you’d see in most games of its type.

Also, the lagomorph is both annoying and compelling.

45:  M1 Tank Platoon

This is the one game to survive from the bottom of the first round, and really was the game that made me think that redoing the list would make more sense than simply adding in the new games where I thought they’d fit.  This was a game where, again, I could add characters as my friends.  But they could also get killed, adding a different emotional element to it.  It also was pretty interesting without being overly complicated. 

You basically ran a platoon of tanks trying to defend against a Soviet conventional assault on Europe.  You always had your four tanks, but you often got other elements like artillery and recon helicopters that you needed to use to their fullest advantage to win the section.  If you won enough, you’d blunt the Soviet attack and push them back and essentially win the non-nuclear WWIII.  It had personalization, strategy and history.  For someone like me, that’s an irresistible combination.

44:  X-Wing Alliance

As I said when I talked about this the last time, this is the only game of the X-Wing series that made the cut.  I could have added X-Wing, Tie Fighter, or X-Wing Vs Tie Fighter here as I played all of those, but this game gets the nod for very similar reasons to M1 Tank Platoon:  you can argue that the other games had better aspects, but this game had the combination of aspects that most appeal to me personally.

First, there’s the main story, which ties into the movies and ends — although I never got there — with the attack on Death Star II.  You could easily argue that Tie Fighter’s story that for what could have been the first time focused, at least initially, on the Empire was a better story, and I know that many have and will.  But Alliance’s story mode is still as interesting as any in the series, and the events tie into the missions fairly well.  So even if other games in the series did it better, it’s still pretty good and suffices for people who want that.

Second, there’s the personal story, where you run smuggling missions and deal with the issues around your family.  This doesn’t really exist in any of the other games, and again provides a more personal element to the story than you’d have otherwise.  It’s not really personalization, but it does provide a story that shows that the main character is a person, and not just someone piloting an X-Wing.

And finally, and probably most importantly for me, it has a wonderful simulator, where you can set-up a scenario and play through it to see what happens.  None of the other games have anything like this, and I almost certainly played with the simulator more than I played with anything else in the rest of the series.  When I think about this game, what I miss is the simulator, not so much the story missions.

So, it has a good Star Wars related story, a good personal story, and a great simulator.  For someone like me, you can’t get much better than that.

43:  Fatal Frame 2

As I noted last time, this is the game that justifies my not adding games by series, as I liked it, just not as much as I liked the original Fatal Frame (and Fatal Frame 3 didn’t make the list).  I also never managed to finish it, unlike Fatal Frame.

The basic idea of a horror game where you don’t get to use a lot of weapons but instead have one — a camera — is still good.  The twin idea isn’t a bad one, although Mayu can be a bit annoying at times and having someone else on hand can make things a bit less scary (until Mayu goes nuts, I suppose).  But it does seem to lose something moving to a village rather than one house, and the worst part is that they take the camera away from you at one point and expect you to carry on, which is the part where I stopped playing the game.  That’s pretty much a Clocktower 3 section, but wasn’t what I was interested in at the point.  I still have these games and still have some PS2 consoles and so perhaps I could play it and finish it, but it’s not looking promising.

42:  Marvel Ultimate Alliance

Yes, there is a new version of this out for the Switch.  Yes, I was considering buying one for this and a few other games.  No, I haven’t done that, because at right about that time I was a) looking for Ring Fit Plus which I can’t get and b) the virus stopped me from browsing in video game stores.  Anyway, it’s hard to believe that it will capture what made this game great.  The story works as a typical video game story.  The combination of characters is pretty interesting.  You don’t seem to be as forced to use certain characters as you might have been in the X-Men Legends series, although maybe the only characters I liked were ones that could do everything.  I even — and Shamus Young will hate me for saying this — like the Quick Time events because the consequences of failing were minor.  And I could actually beat the game, which is always a plus.  This is another game that I might be able to play again but … probably won’t any time soon.

41:  Elder Scrolls:  Oblivion

I have an interesting relationship with the Elder Scrolls series.  I tried to play Morrowind and my excursion ended under an hour in with me going berserk on a guard and then uninstalling the game.  On the more modern end, I’ve tried playing Skyrim something like three times and haven’t gotten past the first town.  I even started Oblivion at least twice before managing to get a run going that I finished, playing as Angel from the Buffyverse and ending up with a character that was massively strong and great at hand-to-hand combat.  My favourite move was to sneak up to an enemy and then punch them, which with the extra damage from attacking while in stealth often killed them.

These sorts of open-world games have always struck me as “single-player MMOs”, with the sort of quests and wandering and lack of story focus of your typical MMO but without the other players.  In order to keep things open-world, they don’t want to push players to do the story too much for fear of making it a linear game, but this lack of focus often — at least for me — hurts the impact of the story.  Oblivion is indeed fairly bad at that, as at one point I stumbled across the main story while looking for a shop.  But the second (third?) time through I managed to enjoy at least the gates enough to get through it.

Still, by far the best part of the game for me was the Shivering Isles expansion.  It had an interesting environment with a nice self-contained story so that I could follow it along while exploring the Isles.  The thing I most remember about the game is that, and I wish the rest of the game could have been more like that.


3 Responses to “Most Personally Memorable/Favourite Games (41 – 50)”

  1. Most Personally Memorable/Favourite Games (21 – 30) | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] “Saint’s Row IV”, on the other hand, is a superhero game.  And superhero games are indeed my sort of game.  I loved using the Super Jump to bounce around the city.  I also loved the tower missions where you had to climb to the top of the tower.  Unlike with “The Third”, I pretty much only ever got in the car to trigger the radio before hopping out and jumping all around the city.  The Mass Effect references were also kinda neat, although I wish they’d done more with the romances.  The humour worked most of the time — which is pretty much in line with how “The Third” worked as well — and so that added to the fun.  Additionally, even though it was a bit of a love letter to the entire rest of the series, it explained things well enough so that I wasn’t lost.  Again, this is another game that justifies my giving games in a series their own entries, as I like this one a lot better than I liked “Saint’s Row the Third”. […]

  2. Most Personally Memorable/Favourite Games (11 – 20) | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] on the Commodore 64, and it was one of if not my first strategy/RPG hybrid game.  And like Aliens and Pirates!, one of the best things about it is that it combines multiple gameplay elements into […]

  3. Most Personally Memorable/Favourite Games(1 – 10) | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] flight simulator gameplay is good, but to be honest there are better flight sims out there (X-Wing Alliance, for example).  But this game wins out for me and even wins out over the other Wing Commander […]

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