Breath of Fire II

The party has fallen.

Role playing games are quite decisive, aren't they? You can love one and loathe another. You can hope one goes on and on and hope another just ends already. With the prospect of tens of hours of potential playtime ahead of you, you'd hope that you could get some kind of idea which type of RPG whatever it is your playing will turn out to be.

With Breath of Fire II on the SNES, it wasn't long before I knew where I stood with it - or rather where I fell face first onto the deck with it.



There is nobody here, but us... Mice!

The SNES was capable of quite a bit, wasn't it? When it's not spewing out the bright colours of Zelda or Mode 7-ing the hell out of Super Mario Kart, it also shows a grim future where corporations are in control and firearms will greatly increase your chance of survival. Like Syndicate, perhaps.

Shadowrun, based on the pencil and paper RPG of the same name, has you navigating this gloomy world in an effort to find out who you are and what you were doing before being gunned down and left for dead, and it's going to see you get familiar with guns, magic and hacking - a mix that doesn't immediately seem like it'd work, but hey... it might work.


Ultima Underworld II: Labyrinth of Worlds

You cannot use that.

It's been said before and it'll be said again, but going through video game history in this way really allows you to see the major milestones in a given genre, be it by looking back and seeing where something came from, or looking further back to see how far a title has brought gaming forward.

Ultima Underworld II: Labyrinth of Worlds is a classic example of this. I love that it shows the early days of 'proper' first-person role-playing games to which the likes of The Elder Scrolls owe a little and that it can be compared to the likes of Dungeon Master from the 1980s to see how much improvement has been made in six or so years of technological advancements.

There's a lot of content still to come on the 1001 list that will offer similar chances to look forward and backwards through history, but for now, we are - once more - going to save Britannia.


Virtua Fighter

"Everything you have heard about Virtua Fighter is true. And then some."

We've had a couple of great fighting games in this 1001 list so far. International Karate + and Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting have stood out personally, but this is something quite different. This is the birth of the three-dimensional fighting game genre, and for all its blocky models coloured almost as garishly as possible, Virtua Fighter should never be forgotten for what it gave to the gaming world.

Whether at home or in the arcades, with a punch, kick and defence button next to your joystick, you're all set to beat your opponent senseless in heavy hitting and somewhat realistic hand to hand combat.

I'm looking forward to bashing those buttons.


Zombies Ate My Neighbors

Extra Bonus Victim!

I knew of Zombies Ate My Neighbors long before I had any idea what the game was about. I had come across the title while looking through lists of available to download .wav music files, back when you had to dial into the Internet in order to see the world as it really was, rather than as it was portrayed in Encyclop√¶dia Brittanica. Guile's Street Fighter theme was more interesting to me at the time, but the title Zombies Ate My Neighbors stuck in my mind.

By that, I mean that I didn't expand upon my zombie knowledge until decades later when I learned it was a run and gun zombie-em-up, and it's not until now that I've even bothered to play it.

Will I be able to save my neighbours before an untimely death? There's no time to lose!


The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening

Wow! This looks pretty heavy!

Zelda on the Game Boy, you say? That should probably be pretty good, shouldn't it? Cramming an entire adventure into a Game Boy cartridge shouldn't be too big an ask, but there's bound to be some expectations thanks to a certain Link to the Past...

Enough beating around the bush, let's slash the sword with our name on it through all the vegetation in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. Is it a spin-off? A side story? Alternate universe? Inspired by? I don't know, but it is different.


The 251/1001 Milestone Awards

Source // Ars Technica

Good Lord, we've actually done it. We've gone through a quarter of the 1001 list. Haven't played all of them, sadly, and definitely haven't finished many (any?) of them, but what a trip it has been so far. The things we've learned! The sights we've seen! The games we're finally aware of beyond having heard the title, once, in passing!

The arcade still calls to us, but the consoles are coming thick and fast. We're moving into territory that I'm more familiar with, and picking out the top tens of each batch for The Milestone Awards is getting harder and harder.

For The 251/1001 Milestone Awards, we're trying to prune through fifty titles from Super Castlevania IV to The 7th Guest. Which titles will run away with an award? Let's find out.

Continuing with tradition, we start with The Indifferent 5, a list of five games that merely contribute to the mise-en-scene. They're not bad, but they're not scene-stealers either. They are what they are - there for those who want them.

Mega Lo Mania, Sensible Software
The Incredible Machine, Kevin Ryan
Axelay, Konami
Secret of Mana, Square
Plok, Software Creations

I wonder how many of those were untouchable classics to some people...

Now that list was tricky, so this next award is nigh on impossible. In this latest batch of fifty must play video games, which title urges me to ask What Was That 1 Even Put On The List For?

Oh no, wait - this one is easy.

What Was Lemmings Even Put On The List For?

Bloody Lemmings. Ugh.

A 1001 list without 1001 entries is a silly list, so if we've taken out all the Lemmings, we have to plug the hole with something else. What forgotten gems are there that should have been included first time round? Let's find out by shouting You Forgot What?! and listening for a response...

Kirby's Dream Land! How in the name of all that is Holy could you leave Kirby's Dream Land off the list? It's Kirby's goddamn Dream Land for Christ's sake.

Sorry. Childhood favourite.

With that error firmly corrected, we can shove enough quarters into the coin slot to get through the rest of this post. Bring on The Top Ten.

10: Cybernator, NCS Corp
Mechs! Mmmmmmechs!

9: Micro Machines, Codemasters
Wee mini motor racing around the breakfast table. It's genius.

8: Sonic the Hedgehog (2?), Sonic Team
They're basically the same, right?

7: Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting, Capcom
The absurd title caused it to drop a few places.

6: NBA Jam, Midway
It's on fire, and hopefully, you are when playing it too. Not literally.

5: Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, LucasArts
This is how you do point and click games. Trust me, I'm an expert now.

4: UFO: Enemy Unknown / X-COM: UFO Defence, Mythos Games, MicroProse Software
The business management simulator you didn't know you wanted.

3: Doom, id Software

2: Super Mario Kart, Nintendo EAD
Such a fun part of my childhood and it still holds up.

What, then, could possibly top the list? What game filled me with so much joy that nothing else could compare - not even Super Mario Kart, which is incredible? Well, Nintendo EAD is on form once more, because the number 1 spot belongs to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. No contest. Clear winner. Don't even try to argue.

To finish up, we must mash together The Top Ten with the current best of the best to form The Topper Than That Top Ten list - the ten best games from the 251 we've seen so far. The Oregon Trail seems so far away now that we're at The 7th Guest, and we're still only 1/4 of the way through this 1001 list. It's going to get tough picking out my top picks, but here are the current champions.

10: Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, LucasArts
Other LucasArts titles might get all the praise, but this is where I want to spend time gaming. You know, if I was forced to play point and click adventures.

9: UFO: Enemy Unknown / X-COM: UFO Defence, Mythos Games, MicroProse Software
Don't take it seriously and it's a blast.

8: The Oregon Trail, MECC
250 games preceded it, and it's still in this best of the best top ten. How? How?!

7: Bomberman, Hudson Soft
I just see his name and all those childhood multiplayer sessions come right to the front of my mind.

6: Tetris, Alexey Pajitnov
What will topple Tetris? It's slipping down the list, but we're still waiting for that one piece...

5: Super Mario Bros., Nintendo R&D4
Slipping, but it's a go-to game for good times.

4: Doom, id Software
It's just so iconic, isn't it? Whether you're good at it or not, you've got your memories of it.

3: Super Mario World, Nintendo EAD
Yoshi, nooooo!

2: Super Mario Kart, Nintendo EAD
Absolute winner. It just had the sad fortune of being around at a time when a certain other absolute winner was...

1: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Nintendo EAD
This absolute winner. It just screams SNES to me, and I can't believe I've not played it until now.

Would you believe I'm a devotee to Sony, their hardware, their exclusives? How my tiny little gaming brain has changed thanks to this list, eh? Recommending Nintendo title after Nintendo title. Well, they're probably going to be staying there for a while, so we'll have to wait and see what the next batch of games contains.

It begins with a title by the name of, ooh, what was it now, The Legend ooooffff... Zelda.

Ah nuts.


The 7th Guest

Feeling lonely?

Having not had a computer for my early childhood, there is no possible way that I'd have caught The 7th Guest in all its original two CD glory - a game so big and detailed that not even the vast storage space of a single CD could contain it.

Joking aside, this game was one of the first pieces of media to really push for consumers to buy CD-ROM drives and welcome the future, and for video gaming (according to developers Trilobyte) that meant mixing pre-rendered 3D backgrounds with live action characters.

Kind of like Return to Zork, I guess, but better. Personally speaking.

We are a disembodied spirit in a spooky old house. What horrors will we witness? What secrets will we uncover? What will we rate the acting out of ten? Let's dive right in.


The Settlers

Project 'Settlers': To create an economy simulation without it being boring.

Source // Wikipedia

In most games where the victor is determined by the greatest military force, you're not tasked with managing a whole lot beyond where your units move, what they do, and how to pay for them to be developed in the first place. Juggling resources is often a case of asking yourself, 'do I have enough of Resource X? Yes? Good'.

Not so in The Settlers, for in order to dominate your neighbours in war, your must grow your mighty empire from the ground up, and everything needs something from somewhere else. Builders need to be fed, but fishermen need their huts to be constructed, and both will get on with their tasks as best as they can - if the required resources eventually get to them via your road networks.

Your carefully laid out road networks.

You did think about the road network, didn't you?


Secret of Mana

You Idiots!

The problem with embarking on a challenge like this is that the sheer scope of some games means I'll never get to really know what they're about, because I'll never have the time in the world to sit down with them for hours and hours and hours on end, especially if they're Role Playing Games like Secret of Mana.

The world is in peril, an epic quest is thrust upon you, how will you manage to vanquish evil and save the day? I'll never know...