Top 50 Games of All Time (40-31)

Neo Geo (also: Arcade, Dreamcast, Xbox Live Arcade)
SNK, 2000

Garou: Mark of the Wolves was the eighth and final Fatal Fury game to be released for SNK's legendary arcade system, Neo Geo. The game ditches the two-line battle system of previous games - which saw you fight your opponent across two planes - and instead plays more like a traditional 2D fighting game. I welcome this as I could never get into the line system and felt it got in the way of the pure fighting game mechanics.

Garou is set after the other Fatal Fury games and as such is comprised of an almost entirely new cast. This revamped cast and the smooth and highly detailed animation often sees the game compared to Capcom's Street Fighter III (a game I have yet to play) which was released around the same time.

The game is incredibly easy to pick up if you are used to 2D fighters but just feels so nice to play, the animation and movement is fluid, the fighting has a kick to it and each character feels unique. Although easy to pick up the game holds a lot of depth for those who seek it. The hard to master Just Defend system that is activated through blocking just as your opponent's attack hits, allows for a small increase in health and gives you a very small window in which to counter attack. If you can master this tricky technique battles can turn in your favour very quickly. There is also the T.O.P. system which allows you to designate a section of your life bar to which more devastating techniques can be used.

The small cast of characters look and play unlike one another, this allows you to experiment with each and find the right match for your playing style. My favourite is Gato who has various ways of approaching the opponent with unique aerial attacks. All in all Garou: Mark of the Wolves is a high watermark for SNK fighters, it is an incredibly addictive and deep fighter that is a joy to look at and play. 

PlayStation 2 (also: Xbox, Wii)
Tecmo, 2003

Project Zero - known as Fatal Frame in the US - is a series I am glad to see has recently been resurrected, thanks to Nintendo and the release of Maiden of Blackwater for the Wii U. The previous game in series  before this was 2008's Japan only Mask of the Lunar Eclipse which surfice it to say I haven't played.

Project Zero 2 is the best of the bunch (that I've played), a nerve shredding survival horror game where your only weapon against the hordes of ghosts is a camera. You control your character in a third person view, exploring the environment in a fashion similar to Resident Evil but when it comes to an encounter you must enter into a first person view that replicates the viewfinder of a camera. You gain more points the closer you allow the ghost to get to you before you take the picture but the game manages to pull off being so freaky that trying to stay accurate can be pretty difficult at times. The fact that you have to get up close and intimate with these dangerous spirits in first person mode is intense and often terrifying!

Project Zero 2 is a game that is as influenced by Japanese horror movies as it is Resident Evil, it plays similar to games of the survival horror genre... but for me this is one of the best games of the genre and is well worth seeking out. I have played both the PS2 and Xbox versions of this game but have yet to delve into the enhanced Wii version which I would imagine is the best of the bunch. Definitely worth picking up if you're a fan of survival horror games and Japanese horror movies.

Super Nintendo (also: Game Boy)
Intelligent Systems, Nintendo R&D1, 1996

Tetris Attack is a fantasticly addictive puzzle game by Nintendo which was originally released in Japan under the name Panel de Pon; it has spawned many sequels over the years under the rather generic Puzzle League guise, some of which have been Pokemon themed. Tetris Attack takes the Japanese puzzler Panel de Pon and gives it a Yoshi-centric face lift, replacing all characters with side kicks and enemies from the Mario games.

In Tetris Attack blocks are continuously rising and you lose the match if your screen is filled with blocks; to lower them you must match 3 or more of the same colour, you do this by swapping blocks on a horizontal plane. To win a match you must make the most of combos and find opportunities for chain moves as the bigger the chain the more blocks you can throw onto your enemies screen. It sounds like a simple concept but it just works so incredibly well, the satisfaction of throwing a four block high attack at your opponent is like nothing else!

The game is incredibly is highly addictive, bright and colourful, it's easy to pick up and approachable but has a lot of depth. This beats the more popular Puyo Puyo by miles in my honest opinion. If you haven't played the game yet I urge you to give it a try, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

GameCube (also: Wii)
Retro Studios, 2003

Metroid Prime is the first Metroid game I ever played and must be up there with most people's favourite Metroid games. Even though it doesn't stick to the tried and true 2D Metroid formula it still feels very much like a Metroid game which is quite an achievement in and of itself. In the game you explore a vast and beautiful world through the eyes of Samus, find power ups, defeat bosses and use Samus' unique abilities such as the Morph Ball... all in glorious 3D!

Metroid Prime just nails the atmosphere and everything just clicks, this is not your typical FPS but simply a First Person Metroid. I love exploring this world, scanning items, the environment, the enemies and just learning little by little about the world I am in. I found Metroid Prime 2 to be a little too hostile and somewhat uninteresting (maybe I should give it another shot?) and I found Metroid Prime 3 to be underrated but nothing compares to the first game, an absolutely essential GameCube purchase.

The game can also be played using Wii controls if you pick up the Trilogy on Wii. This Trilogy has recently been re-released on the Wii U, more ways to play this landmark title.

36 - Out Run
Arcade (also: Sega Saturn, Mega Drive, 3DS eShop etc)
Sega AM2, 1986

I remember playing Out Run for the first time on the Sega Saturn's Sega Ages collection and just being completely blown away by what I was experiencing. This is classic Sega; technically staggering arcade gameplay with tons of personality and that perfect blue sky.

In Out Run you are racing against the clock in your red Ferrari; you race from point A to point B but your journey and your destination is yours to choose as along the way you are presented with amny roads that folk in two opposite directions. This branching structure means that two playthroughs can be vastly different. Out Run has such an intoxicating personality and it doesn't hurt that it has one of the best soundtracks to grace the arcade. A stone cold classic that holds up really well today. I still feel that the Sega Saturn is the best place to play the game but it is also available on multiple other systems including the 3DS, enhanced with 3D graphics and multiple game modes. A classic game that is a joy to play. 

35 - Meteos
Nintendo DS
Q Entertainment, 2005

Meteos is one of the best games on the DS as it utilizes the hardware in a straightforward fashion that works in favour of the gameplay, it doesn't feel like a tacked on gimmick but as if the game was built from the ground up with touch screens in mind.

In Meteos you simply connect pieces of the same colour together to set them on a course for the skies above, but there is a lot of strategy involved in order to get those high scores. Depending on the planet you are playing on the gamplay will alter, for instance some planets may have heavier gravity, some may have a narrower playing field, some may vanish all blocks once connected together etc. There are 33 planets in total, each with their unique sound effects, graphics and music, giving each planet a distinct identity.

Pushing for high scores and farming your precious metals is what will keep you coming back time and time again. Once the game has you hooked you will find it very hard to put it down, believe me! One of the simplest but also one of the best puzzle games of all time, highly recommended.

3DS Virtual Console (also: Famicom)
KID, 1992

In all honesty I haven't played a ton of shoot-em-up's, I'm definitely no connoisseur when it comes to this genre but I know what I like and I loooove RECCA. Released in Japan in the Summer of 1992 as a competition cart, RECCA is an incredibly rare game to pick up for the Famicom... thankfully it is easy (and cheap!) to find on the 3DS Virtual Console.

RECCA is a fast as hell shooter which is here to kick your butt, you won't last long but the time you spend with it will be filled with amazingly fast sprites and a pumping soundtrack that will stick with you for days afterwards. Addictive, technologically staggering and hard as nails, RECCA is great fun and I hazard to say a prototype for the 'bullet hell' genre which would emerge a year or two after its release.

A hidden gem that is a marvel to behold and a joy to play. Getting that little bit better each time you die and coming up with new strategies to progress even further is highly addictive. One of the best shoot-em-up games out there.

Nintendo 64
Rare, 1997

Most people remember Goldeneye 007 for its multiplayer as it is often seen as one of the best and most iconic multiplayer games out there... but I feel there is a lot more to this game. For me the game proved that licensed games can work, even if most don't. The game also proved that a complex FPS could work on a home console. The game offers a wealth of control options to suit your needs including dual stick options that ask that you hold one controller in each hand; this is a little cumbersome but is a very early example of the now standard dual analog configuration. The game's controls can feel alien for an audience accustomed to modern FPS control schemes but after a little adjustment you can move around the world with ease and aim precise satisfying headshots.

One of the things I love most about the game is its campaign. Each mission has multiple objectives to complete, on the easiest level only the bare minimum must be completed but as you increase the difficulty the game tasks you with completing more and more objectives. Some of these objectives can feel obtuse at first but once you know what you are doing and go on to complete a mission on 00-Agent difficulty you feel like a true undercover spy!

I love the overall attention to detail and the design that went into this game. As you start the game you choose from one of four save files which are represented as folders, once you have selected your save you go into the folder to pick the level, difficulty etc which are represented as sheets in the folder. As you start the first mission the camera spins from the sky before entering the back of James Bond's head, putting you firmly in his polygonal shoes. For the options menu James looks down at his wrist watch and the options menu is in the watch itself. It is design choices like these that amount to creating a real sense of immersion and atmosphere and show that the developers cared for the licence. The game is a stone cold classic that sadly hasn't been able to be ported to modern consoles due to licencing issues. Get an N64 and pick up this influential classic.

32 - Tekken 3
Playstation (also: Arcade)
Namco, 1998

I had a hard time choosing between this and Tekken 5 but in the end Tekken 3 wins as I remember the release so vividly, the anticipation leading up to release was unlike anything I had seen before (aside from perhaps Final Fantasy VII), the game represented a giant leap in what could be achieve on the PlayStation and people were eager to get their hands on it.

Tekken 3 was a sequel with a lot of ambition, coming off the back of the huge success that was Tekken 2 the developers really outdid themselves by expanding on all aspects: better graphics, more modes, moves, characters, techniques and stages. The game is near arcade perfect but not only did they treat us to a great conversion but they added mode after mode to create one of the most robust fighting games out there. You start with 10 main characters but as you play through the Arcade Mode with each character you can unlock 13 more as well as often humorous cinematics for each character that can be collected and viewed in the Theatre Mode. You can also unlock Tekken Ball and Tekken Force modes which were both great additions that changed up the gameplay in creative ways (if you don't know what these modes are, play the game and allow yourself to be surprised!). An absolute classic game that I find very hard to fault.

31 - Mole Mania
Game Boy (also: 3DS Virtual Console)
Nintendo EAD, Pax Softnica

Why this game doesn't get more recognition is beyond me, this truly is Miyamoto's best hidden gem, a game that I feel all should dig. How to describe the game... think a mix of classic Zelda dungeon puzzles and the combat of Bomberman and you are about half way there. The theme and gameplay are intertwined perfectly with puzzles taking place above and below ground, asking Muddy Mole to dig through the ground and find his way round some devious puzzles.

This game can be had fairly cheaply on the original Game Boy but is also very cheap on the 3DS eShop so you have no excuse not to pick this up, a hidden gem in need of a good home. I cannot recommend this game enough. A puzzle adventure game that demands to be played and would make for a fantastic Wii U title.

50-41   ---   40-31   ---   30-21   ---   20-11   ---   10-1

Posted: 23rd November 2015

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