Editor in Chief Orion Williams and I have played many, many, many video games during our lives. Some were brief but fun jaunts. Others are still talked about as if the stuff of legend. Multiplayer moments have been created. Stories still told to this day. Experiences were had that have helped shape how we look at future games. Silliness and glitches and physics engine wackiness has been seen and still almost not believed. We have played many, many, many games and of all those games these titles have made the most impact for their own very special reasons. Take a look as Fizmarble presents Orion Williams’ and Brian Coelho’s top 5 picks for each of our favorite games of all time.
When editor Brian Coelho came to us about making these lists, I thought it was a great idea. Now I realize that it was a cruel prank. Take a gamer, who has played enthusiastically from Atari to Nintendo to Sega to Sony to Microsoft consoles and everything across the spectrum of PC gaming history, and make him pick 5 games. Unfair, to be nice.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (NES)
This game was more than just another movie tie-in. Games featuring movie licenses have rarely been known for their quality. But Roger Rabbit stood above many other games at the time in terms of characters (nearly every character from the movie is featured in the game in some capacity), movie references (many scenes are touched on without resorting to in-game cinematics), and freedom. Oh, the freedom. Early in the game, you navigated Eddie Valiant down the streets, avoiding traffic. But once you unlocked Benny the cab, then the open-world exploration really started. Driving from location to familiar location was a new experience for me in gaming. Combat was fun until the last boss, which pretty much required an NES Advantage. But still, Who Framed Roger Rabbit holds a place in my heart for showing what me what could be accomplished when a developer (Rare) actually cared for the license. They also showed how much fun it could be to punch a cartoon character as hard as you could, but kept coming back for more.
Puzzle Quest 1&2 (XBLA, multiplat)
When people talk about “match three” games, my initial reaction is to recoil and declare my hatred for the genre. I have never liked Bejeweled, and at one time thought that it signaled the end of gaming as I knew and loved. When I first tried Puzzle Quest, the feelings that followed were the same as those after playing for dozens of hours. With hardly any tutorial or practice, I was matching three, four, and five icons. That was the easy part. Matching skulls sent an attack to my enemy. What!? Everything had changed. Now it wasn’t simply about achieving points, this was about survival. Every turn mattered. Should I go for the skulls for the immediate damage, or collect the mana for a more powerful spell next turn? I had a choice!! A simple but endearing story of classic good vs. evil provided a way to weave my encounters together. Leveling up meant better spells, winning money meant better gear. I had finally been given a compelling reason to match three.
Halo: Combat Evolved (Xbox)
When Halo launched with the original Xbox, I was there day one with my surround sound, taking in all of the visuals, which at the time, were groundbreaking for a console. But it wasn’t until I played the multiplayer with family and friends that Halo became part of my gaming DNA. The following years would contain countless hours of lost time playing Halo. At home with friends, at friend’s houses, and stranger’s houses, at tournaments. LAN parties had hit the console gaming community, and it’s poster boy was Halo. Nowadays, we have Halo multiplayer online. It’s good but different, and it will never be the same as when we brought our televisions from miles around to network our Xboxes and kill each other with sticky grenades and the mighty pistol.
Guitar Hero/Rock Band (Xbox 360)
The first time I played Guitar Hero I thought that I could handle the harder modes because I was a guitar player in real life. I chose medium, despite a heavy warning from the person handing me the plastic guitar-like controller. I failed miserably, and became immediately hooked. When Guitar Hero 2 came out, I convinced my wife that this was something we needed to buy, and she went to the game store to pick up the last copy for me. I played through every song on easy, then medium, then hard, and finally expert. I loved jamming to those songs on my fake guitar. I bought nearly every iteration to follow, and learned to drum because of Rock Band. My love for music now fit neatly into my passion for video games. I could do two of my favorite things at the same time. While we can blame Activision for murdering the rhythm game genre, I still have a fondness for it, and hope to see it make a resurrection in the future. Maybe next time, just one game a year. Ok, Kotick?
Super Meat Boy (XBLA, multiplat)
This spot could have been filled by the Trials series. In fact, Trials offers more in the creation department with an amazing tool set available for track builders. Trials, as well as Super Meat Boy, both represent trial and error and a refinement of skill. In these games, you will improve, or you will not progress. Both games punish you for simple mistakes. But, whereas in Trials, I laugh every time that poor rider hits his head on an over pass or misses a backflip, in Super Meat Boy I really want Meat Boy to succeed. He fights for a noble cause against a vile villain. Meat Boy keeps smiling despite getting juiced, salted, burned or stabbed at every turn. I guess what I am saying is that I can get behind this hero. SMB is one of those rare characters that you can root for the whole time, despite feeling your soul crushed by the games difficulty. I am not sure that my heart could withstand another Meat Boy game, but I am grateful for this one.
Man this is hard to do. We said top 5 though and that’s what we are going with. I had to kind of set the parameter of best experiences I had in these games I played and that knocked a lot of real contenders down the list. Ducktales for the NES, Limbo and Bastion, Final Fantasy X, the original Halo, San Francisco Rush 2049, Power Stone, Escape from Monkey Island, Unreal Tournament, Portal 1 & 2, Mario Kart, Diablo and the original Rainbow Six on PC and many more. So many games out there that have given me enjoyment. These 5 though stand out above the rest of the class.
WWF No Mercy (N64)
While the graphics have improved over the years and the level of customization has grown leaps and bounds this N64 title was one I put some serious mileage on playing. I was really into the WWF and WCW at the time with my friends. We would meet up Monday’s and watch the shows and cheer and boo and then stay up way too late drinking this horrible soda called Surge (that had to be a precursor to the energy drink movement) and played match after match of No Mercy. It was a blast. It was simple blocky renditions of our favorite super stars and whatever amalgamation of them we could make in order to create our own. Nowadays when I play the games I feel like I lose lock ups and reversals by not being in tune with the game. Back then it was really man against man and if I lost it’s because my opponent was just better. It was so much fun to be so into the “real” thing and then get to play as them and do their moves and taunts in game. We would reenact pay per views and pit our favorites against each other and as mad as we may have gotten for getting hit in the head with a steel chair by someone for the umpteenth time we would still be ready to go for another battle. I have had other multiplayer experiences that may have been more fulfilling but this was one of my first and I will always remember those Monday night wars we had.
This cult favorite yet still wildly unappreciated game is brilliant. It has so much in it that appeals to me and helped cement Double Fine as a company that will always get my attention and time regardless of what kind of game they are putting out. Psychonauts puts you in the role of Raz who is attempting to become one of the title characters. You have a vast assortment of psychic powers at your disposal that you use while entering the minds of others. Each mind is its own wondrous dreamscape full of creativity and humor and randomness and differing game play. It is hilarious and artistic and has character and style to spare. It plays very well and the collection of powers and the ways they are utilized to take on enemies and bosses is clever and effective. I feel bad so many missed out on this one at the time but over the years it has made many top games lists for what it delivered. I think we will see a sequel sometime down the line and I think that the dues the first one paid will earn it a lot more attention and acclaim. Psychonauts is my favorite game of all time and if you have not given it a go do yourself a favor and make it one you have to play.
Half Life/Day of Defeat (PC)
Valve makes great games. They make smart choices and deliver quality creations and while they don’t have a gigantic catalog of offerings what they do have is a list of respectable greatness. I played the first Half Life on Orion’s PC. He was gracious enough to let me play it while I was hanging out at the house and I’m pretty sure I only got up from in front of the screen to use the bathroom, eat something really quick and run out to the top of the stairs so I could excitedly yell out to Orion below how awesome what just happened was. I love Half Life 2. It’s definitely the improved version of the first one but the experience I got from that first entry locked in my love for the interactivity of playing through an amazing story with incredible ‘”big” moments. I loved the scripted sequences and the feeling of urgency in the game. I seriously could not get enough and found the pacing to be that of a good book. It just kept driving you forward. You could barely absorb what you had just gone through before being dropped into the next batch of terrific and terrifying. It is a classic in the gaming world and rightfully so. It is one of those games that was ahead of its time and helped shape the future of story driven gaming along with those who got into the industry. It sticks with you both consciously and sub and helps define the things you like and don’t when it comes to the games you play. A game changer, slight pun intended.
Day of Defeat was a World War 2 mod and gets a bit of notice here for helping start the MGK clan and sparking my love of multiplayer shooters. I loved teaming up with Orion, Kevin and whoever else felt like joining in to go toe to toe with gamers from all over. it was fast paced and fun. While Counterstrike got more notice in the Half Life mod world and rightfully so, Day of Defeat was a bit more of a tucked away gem that gave you a ton of fun in exchange for a bit of game time and a smidgen of your figurative health bar.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (Xbox 360)
I have never put more hours into a game than I have Bad Company 2. Every time I think about it I am both proud and disgusted. I love that game. I hate that game. I knew the maps inside and out. I had my strategies and exploits. It was the first game I felt truly great at. More than Unreal or Halo or DoD or Counterstrike I have never had more fun playing a multiplayer shooter. Here is where The Magikists really came into their own. We were a team of beasts and when we came together and communicated and both assisted the team while devastating individually we were pretty much unstoppable. I’ve never laughed harder or cursed louder in a game. It was such a raw, pure gaming experience that brought out the real gamer and the stereotypical gamer in me. While I enjoy playing Battlefield 3 with my fellow MGK brothers it’s just not the same. I would still go back and play Bad Company 2 and I have high hopes that Bad Company 3 will come out in the future and capture all the goodness of its predecessor while creating something new and improved. I also hope that I can show a bit more restraint and not sacrifice as much of my life to the mad god Battlefield. Oh….it is so evil in its temptation.
the Silent Hill franchise (Xbox, Xbox 360)
I enjoy survival horror games very much. I’m actually not sure if enjoy is the right word but I get something out of the experience. I like the darkness. I’m drawn to it in some way and I like the fear it generates. While the Dead Space series is slowly becoming my new favorite, Silent Hill has a special place in my heart. It’s the combination of mental and physical horror coupled with the style and vibe of the series. It’s the rich story that you delve deeper into while playing the individual tales that I am genuinely intrigued with. It’s color pallets are both dull and diverse and the soundtrack is unique and appropriate. I’ve even purchased it to listen to when not playing. While some entries in the series have not been as good they still offer up a lot and Silent Hill 4: The Room is actually one of my absolute favorites in the series yet it’s looked pretty down on by the fan base as a whole. Even the newest entry Downpour was not all that well received but I found it to be a pretty wild time. It changed a lot of the character design and tried some new things. Some worked and some didn’t. I liked the off the beaten path missions and the way the game design played with my mind. Silent Hill is a frightening world to visit and when I finish a game I’m both relieved to have escaped and eager to return. Few games and stories are as fleshed out and still mysterious as this one. Silent Hill will survive and always be around in some way, shape or form.