Ultima Online

A Muhmorpuhger, you say?

Ever since playing Dungeons & Dragons with a group of school friends a long time ago, I've enjoyed role-playing games. They come in many, many forms, of course, and there are highlights of this gargantuan genre in both physical and digital media. But of all the many ways you can play roles in games, I've never gotten into the MMORPG.

Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game. It's a mouthful, and it was a term used to describe Ultima Online, the next step for the already pretty damn big Ultima series.

Now, I didn't have the best of times with the previous Ultima entries on this 1001 list, and I'm not expecting anything different here, but I have to say up front that it must be doing something right to still have players twenty years after its initial release, and credit to whoever deserves credit here, but you can play a trial version with your choice of client, including the original.

All I need now is dial-up internet.


Grand Theft Auto


A long time ago, there was a demo disc for the PlayStation that contained a top-down crime 'em up infamously known as Grand Theft Auto. I played that demo disc an awful lot - until it broke, in fact. No idea how, but it did. It didn't break while I was playing GTA, but GTA was the most played demo on that disc because GTA was so different from everything else out there.

You're dropped into the criminal underworld of a stylized America, performing missions picked up from payphones and pagers for various mob bosses across three cities based on New York, Miami and San Francisco.

Let's find out what frenzies we can whip up in Liberty City.


The Last Express

Anyone want my ticket to ride?

The 1001 list write up for this rotoscoped point and click adventure suggests that The Last Express could be the greatest game never played.

A tale of murder on the Orient Express, characters who go about their daily routines in the background, multiple options and endings to make this express your express. Is it the first express of many?


Tekken 3


Some time ago, I wrote about playing Tekken for the first time, twenty years later, having only started the series with Tekken 2 in my childhood. I liked that I could, more or less, slot right back into the way I played, and while there were some differences and some difficulty spikes, it was Tekken through at through. No matter what it looked like, no matter how lacking I was in the skills department, playing Tekken was fun.

So imagine my merriment when Tekken 3 shows up in the 1001 list...

I've still got my copy of Tekken 3 because it's just that good, but I haven't played it for so long now that I'm almost ashamed. I say almost only because being ashamed to have not played something in a while is silly. We not-play things all the time, it's called Life, it happens. But here, now, Tekken 3 happens, and it happens with muh boy Lei Wulong.



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Versions of this mobile phone phenomenon have been around since the mid-1970s, but the 1001 list has singled out the Nokia port/remake/version of Snake as the absolute pinnacle of the hundreds upon hundreds of versions, and it's hard to argue with that decision - after all, I just referred to it as 'this mobile phone phenomenon'...

You'll need to use your imagination for this one.


X-COM: Apocalypse

Live Alien spotted.

They came from space, they came from the sea, and now they're coming through teleporters hovering above our megacities, infiltrating corporations to take over what's left of the world from the inside out.

That's the backstory to X-COM: Apocalypse in a nutshell, and it's more than I knew before going in. I know of X-COM, of course, but didn't know that it would go on to become what Apocalypse is, and what Apocalypse is is more of the same, sure, but also a whole lot more.


Star Fox 64

Do an aileron roll?

Does anybody out there even know of this game by its various alternate titles? Lylat Wars? What even is that? This is Star Fox 64 - always has been, always will be, and like pretty much all Nintendo 64 titles on this 1001 list, I'm playing it for the first time twenty years after its release.

Following the Star Fox team on their mission to stop scientist-turned-psychopath Andross from destroying the Lylat system, we're going to play as Fox McCloud, barrel rolling through enemy fire in his Arwing.

Fox McCloud

That's right, him.


The 351/1001 Milestone Awards

The 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die list is a limited-production, 960 page, 36 contributor, 5 and a half centimetre thick tome of opinions put together by Quintessence in 2010, and I am just over a third of the way through it, which means it's time for another Milestone Awards.

The 351/1001 Milestone Awards have felt a long time coming, but we finally get to whittle down titles ranging from Duke Nukem 3D to Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, so that we can blitz through the best of the best like a Japanese supercar blitzing through the collectors market.

Last time, I mentioned that the era of my childhood was rapidly approaching, and the decisions would get harder and harder as many a bias started to take control. This time, that's proven true. Let's see what's what.

First off are The Indifferent 5, games that get the reaction an off-brand but clearly inspired by a copyrighted car design would get if chosen to be modelled in an equally bland game. They're games, is what I'm saying. These five games are games, congratulations to them.

International Track & Field, Konami
Syndicate Wars, Bullfrog Productions
I.Q.: Intelligent Qube, Epics
Beatmania, Konami G.M.D.
Final Furlong, Namco

Keep going around the track guys. Someone wants to see you finish, I'm sure.

There were actually enough games to fill two Indifferent 5 lists, but there was only going to be one title to find itself the answer to What Was That 1 Even Put On The List For?

What Was Vectorman 2 Even Put On The List For?

We've moved on from these games. Earlier than the 301st entry and you might have made it, Vectorman, but in this day and age (that being 1997ish), you just don't cut the mustard.

When one goes, one must take its place. A car with only three wheels is a mistake, and it's broken, so it needs four wheels, and four just so happens to be the number of games that these so-called 'contributors' could have picked from, meaning one of which should have been 'contributed' to the 1001 list to fix the clearly faulty inclusion of that previous award winner up there.

Without faffing around any longer, I scream You Forgot What?! with the following illustrated question:

Heads. Will. Roll. Whattigattiguddiga.

It is the race for pole position that heads up these Milestone Awards, firstly with The Top Ten. The best ten games from this batch of 50. I thought ten of them were indifferent, and one of them shouldn't have been anywhere near the 1001 list, which leaves 39 games vying for ten positions. Lovely. No overtaking, now.

10: Final Fantasy VII, Square
This far down? Yes. I've not played enough of it to hail it as the future of video gaming yet.

9: Super Mario 64, Nintendo EAD
This far down? Yes. It essentially gave birth to the third dimension, but that's not good enough for me.

8: Bushido Blade, Light Weight
Higher than SM64? Have you lost your fu- No. It's the International Karate + effect - it brings a stupid smile to my face.

7: Blade Runner, Westwood Studios
So unexpected that I'm still amazed at its existence.

6: Fallout, Interplay Productions
It's got its faults, but they're not found in the stories you get from it.

5: Tomb Raider, Core Design
That. Handstand. And the whole female ass-kicking protagonist thing, of course...

4: Metal Slug, Nazca Corporation
Again, it brings a smile to my face. That's gaming, right there.

3: Gran Turismo, Polyphony Digital
The sequel is better, but it's not on the list, so this is. Played it so hard in my youth I could practically smell the burning rubber...

2: Quake, id Software
It still holds up, doesn't it? mlook at it again and again.

So, what could be better than Quake? Well, look, I've ranked it better, but that doesn't mean it's better better, you know? But it is Bond. The number 1 spot this time around goes to GoldenEye 007, a game I wish I could have played in my youth for more than ten minutes.

With those games now fueled by nitrous oxide, where do they slot into The Topper Than That Top Ten? Is The Oregon Trail still clinging on after 350 other games?

No. No, it isn't. These ten are, though.

10: Blade Runner, Westwood Studios
The series we all know Westwood Studios by has been kicked off with the help of the game most of us don't know Westwood Studios by.

9: Fallout, Interplay Productions
Emerging from the vault to say hi, but I suspect it'll disappear back into it before long.

8: Tomb Raider, Core Design
Maybe Lara can find Vault Boy later on.

7: Metal Slug, Nazca Corporation
This top ten list mainly comprises of games I want to play right now, in all honesty. I want to play this one right now.

6: Gran Turismo, Polyphony Digital
But now I want to play this one.

5: Quake, id Software
Do you see how difficult it was to rank these yet?

4: Super Mario World, Nintendo EAD
A survivor of The 301/1001 Milestone Awards topper ten. I think survivors will have to be mighty impressive going forward, especially if I end up defaulting to a list of 'Games I want to play right now'...

3: GoldenEye 007, Rare
"[is this list] For the readers, Frank?" "No. For me."

2: Super Mario Kart, Nintendo EAD
In an alternate universe, Crash Team Racing occupies this spot...

1: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Nintendo EAD
(Insert joke about trying to force this one off the top spot here)

The checkered flag drops and that's another Milestone Awards done. Lots of changes. Lots of opinions. Lots more games to play, starting with something called Star Fox 64. Probably another Nintendo 64 title, that.

Game on, won't you?


Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II

Very intriguing.

A long time ago, in an operating system far, far away, I emulated a handful of games through DOSBox with the aid of Boxer, for I was the kind of computer user who preferred the 'it just works' approach, which of course meant I gamed far more often on a console, and not on my Mac.

One of those emulated games was a demo for Star Wars: Dark Forces, a first-person shooter set somewhere in the Star Wars universe I knew and loved, which made an awful lot of sense, even if I found it to be a little cumbersome and old in places - I didn't admire the history of gaming as much as then as I do now.

I don't remember much of it, which is fine because it's the sequel, Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, that we care about today. A long time ago, in a little corner of the expanded universe that totally happened but not according to the House of Mouse, mercenary Kyle Katarn is about to face his destiny by confronting the Dark Jedi who killed his father.

I think. It doesn't sound like much of a plot, but we'll take what we can get.


Myth: The Fallen Lords


It hasn't happened in a while, but we're about to play a game I've never heard of in my life up until this point. I guess you could say I've only ever heard of it as a... myth...

What happens when you take a real-time strategy game, strip out the resource gathering rubbish, slap in some fantasy warriors of all sizes and shapes, and plonk it inside a 3D world that soon fills up with many, many bloody remnants of the combatants?

The answer is Myth: The Fallen Lords.