Category Archives: Top 5

Inspired by High Fidelity and reinforced by Red Parsley.

All-Time Top 5 Racing Games

Racing games are still amongst my favourite game genres, despite my general apathy towards cars in real life. I’ve approached this list in my usual way, taking into account nostalgia and enjoyment. There was the normal amount of ‘almost made it’ games, so they’ll follow at the end.

Reverse order, as ever:

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5) Forza Motorsport 7 (Xbox One)

This very nearly didn’t make the list at all, and I strongly considered using an earlier entry. Once you’re in a race, I’m of the opinion that there is no better ‘realistic’ racing to be had than Forza 7. They’ve also improved the single player career mode to make it much more interesting than the last few iterations, 5 and 6 particularly were so very stale in that regard. However, in their ongoing bid to cash in on every possible additional revenue stream, the lootboxes, mods and pointless ‘Driver Outfits’ have made much of the experience incredibly tedious. Coupled with huge load times, this stuff grates even more. So annoying, because ‘in race’ it’s superb and looks stunning. Argh.

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4) Rage Racer (PlayStation)

Could easily have been any of the original PlayStation era Ridge Racer series, but this is the one I still choose to go back to now. I think Ridge Racer Type 4 is almost certainly the better game, but I just didn’t spend as much time with it. The art style of Rage Racer is really distinctive, and stands out against other racers not just in the series but across the 32 bit era.

Sadly I never got on with any of the Ridge Racer’s post PS1, and mostly just pretend the series ended with Type 4.

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3) Sega Rally (SEGA Saturn)

I still remember when I first saw Sega Rally running on my Saturn. It was the first time it really felt like I had ‘Arcade quality’ games at home, and also when I really started getting into Racing Games. Before the Saturn & PlayStation appeared, the racing games I liked tended to be of the top down variety, i.e. Micro Machines, Super Sprint. I always found it difficult to really get into the ‘driving into the screen’ style of racing games, even classics like Outrun, because I couldn’t escape the feeling that the car was staying still and the track was rushing towards me. Once polygons arrived, this was mostly mitigated for me, and I’ve never looked back.

Sega Rally remains an absolute joy to play, and it’s a testament to the quality of the game that many otherwise forgotten arcades around the country, manage to have a functioning Sega Rally twin cabinet amongst their gambling machines, and that it still draws in players.

 

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2) WipEout Omega Collection (PS4)

While the demise of Studio Liverpool has made it very unlikely we’ll get a true new Wipeout game, their last few releases had been refining content from earlier in the series. This latest collection put together by new developers is a masterpiece, and pretty much essential for a PS4 owner. All the content from the PS3 and Vita games, remastered to be a full 60 fps at 1080p. It’s gorgeous, and just as fun as it ever was. This month should see them release a free VR patch, which makes the entire game playable in PSVR. I can’t wait.

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1) Forza Horizon 3 (Xbox One)

When the original Forza Horizon first appeared, I really wasn’t convinced. I was much more into Forza Motorsport 4. This changed when I got my Xbox One though, I picked up Forza Horizon 2 and fell in love. It has the polish of the Motorsport games, but is just so much more fun, and easier to play in short bursts. I find I can play for half an hour in the morning before work, and make good progress in events. Horizon 3 was even better, giving an all new map and it didn’t hurt that when it arrived it was the best looking game on the console. The 2 DLC packs, Blizzard Mountain & Hot Wheels, are also outstanding and pretty much essential.

While this third game in the series is comfortably my favourite, what I like about  Forza Horizon is that the maps are so different, it is still worth playing the earlier games. I’m hoping they follow their own pattern, and release Forza Horizon 4 this year.


Other mentions:

Mario Kart (DS & Wii) – This probably would have made my list if I’d been making it a few years ago. Although the series would likely be in my top 10, I have drifted away a bit. I adored the DS and Wii versions, and put many hours into multiplayer on both. However, 7 was a bit of a disappointment on the 3DS, and I’m yet to own either a Wii U or Switch to spend time with 8. Maybe that’ll change in the future, but neither console is on my radar yet.

Porsche Challenge & Rally Cross (PlayStation) – I have great memories of both of these, and on nostalgia alone they’d probably be in my top 5. However, when I started drafting this list, I went back and played a bit of Porsche Challenge, and unlike Rage Racer & SEGA Rally, it hasn’t aged well at all. Borderline unplayable, I was too scared to go try Rally Cross.

Drive Club (PS4) – I have no doubt that this is now a great game. It was admittedly a mess at launch, but the developers worked on it with frequent updates and it is now a very polished racer. Until Forza Horizon 3 came along it was the best looking racing game I’d ever played. Unfortunately I find it too difficult, and was unable to make too much progress. I got quite a bit more mileage out of the Motorbikes expansion, but just not prepared to put in the extra time to improve. Ultimately Forza Horizon and Motorsport series are better games and I’d sooner spend more time with those.

 

 

 

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Top 5 Games 2017

That time again to look back over the last twelve months and highlight my favourite games of the year. I was surprised to find that there are two remakes / remasters on this list, and that all of my top five were on the PS4 (although only two are exclusive to the platform). I have this time stuck closely to the brief, and all 5 were released in 2017. If I had decided to include all the games I’d played this year, we’d probably have Panzer Dragoon Saga on this list, but otherwise I think the line up would be pretty similar.


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5)  Everybody’s Golf – PS4

A series that I’ve had a passing interest in since the original PlayStation, the first time I put a lot of time into it in single player was on the Vita. That game was a joy and I still revisit it when travelling. This latest version is delightful, I’m really enjoying playing through the career mode and the multiplayer is great fun both online and locally.

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4) WipEout Omega Collection – PS4

The first of two remasters on the list, WipEout Omega Collection is slightly bittersweet. After the closing of Studio Liverpool by Sony, a proper new WipEout seems unlikely at best. However, if this is to be the last game for the franchise, it’s a truly fitting finale. Containing all the content from the PS3 and Vita games (the Vita edition itself was something of a remastering of content from the PSP games), but running at a crisp 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second. An absolutely essential PS4 release. This could be a system seller all on its own, and apparently we’re getting a free update in first quarter 2018 to make the whole thing playable in PSVR.

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3) Injustice 2 – PS4

If Street Fighter V was a demonstration of how not to make a fighting game interesting to the casual single player, Injustice 2 is a shining example of how it can be done. The first Injustice game was a complete surprise, a great fighting game with the DC licence being previously unheard of. It’s interesting that the Marvel licence had a run of great fighting games, that seems to have ended with the mediocre Marvel vs Capcom Infinite. Perhaps the universe only has room for one of them to be good at a time.

Injustice 2 built on the success of the first game, and despite my initial doubts about the gear system, it turned out to be a stroke of genius. I’m presently addicted to farming xp for all the characters, and chasing the loot in a Diablo-esque manner. While lootboxes are the bane of so many modern games, Injustice 2 throws so many of them at you via its Multiverse events, I’ve never felt pressured to spend any real money on micro-transactions and am regularly opening 50+ boxes of shiny new tat for my heroes.

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2) Nex Machina – PS4

Since releasing Nex Machina (and Matterfall, which I bought but haven’t really got round to playing yet) the developers, Housemarque, have announced that they’re leaving the genre behind, and won’t be making any more of these Arcade style experiences. I am fascinated to see what they do next, as the quality of their output cannot be denied. I’ll certainly miss their arcade games though. Nex Machina stands alongside Resogun as one of the best games on the PS4, and deserved to sell much better than it did.

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1) WonderBoy: The Dragon’s Trap – PS4

It’s possible I’ll be alone in placing a remake as my Game of the Year, but this was a real highlight of 2017 for me. The new benchmark for remakes, this smashed all my expectations. WonderBoy 3 was one of my favourite games back on the Master System, and this update was clearly produced by people who loved it at least as much as I did. I adore the new art, and it sounds great too. The fact that you can also play with any combination of old or new graphics, sound & music is also delightful. (I played much of it with modern graphics and music, and those classic sound fx).

The Dragon’s Trap gameplay holds up as well today as it did back then, and this is hands down the best game of 2017 for me. A triumph.

All-Time Top 5 Christmas Movies

Various conversations on Twitter had me thinking about this recently. Thought I’d collate my personal Top 5, and as usual include comments on a few of the notable absences at the end.

So, in reverse order:


5. Christmas Vacation (1989)

Always been a fan of the Vacation movies, but I still think this is the best of them. It’s a shame Chevy Chase turned out to be so thoroughly unpleasant, the best thing about all the Vacation films is Clark Griswold’s earnest pursuit of quality family time in the face of ever escalating set-backs.

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4. Polar Express (2004)

I’m pretty much a sucker for a train movie at the best of times, but this ticks lots of boxes. Even the weird animation style works for me, and although the soundtrack isn’t going to be worrying Disney anytime soon, it remains a festive joy.

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3. Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

While the Polar Express is slightly let down by it’s soundtrack, the Muppet Christmas Carol excels. Somehow having a magic that the Muppet’s never managed with any of their other big screen outings, this is a masterpiece. One of my favourite performances from Michael Caine too, can’t be easy acting alongside puppets.

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2. Scrooged (1988)

A firm Christmas favourite and essential viewing every year. Bill Murray (as usual) is outstanding in the lead role, and is still the best interpretation of the Scrooge character for me.

It’s all at once funny, dark, depressing and sentimental. Just like Christmas.

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1. White Christmas (1954)

“Let’s just say we’re doing it for an old pal in the army.”

My personal favourite, and the greatest Christmas Movie of all time, is Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. Most of my reasons for loving it are sentimental, for how much it was part of my childhood. Usually start watching it in November, and get 3 or 4 viewings in by January.

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Other Mentions

Die Hard (1988) – This is only absent from the list because it didn’t make the top 5. It is absolutely a Christmas Movie, and if you’re spending any time arguing to the contrary, kindly rethink your priorities.

Holiday Inn (1942) – While I still mostly enjoy breaking this one out over the festive season, some of the content which is easy to dismiss as being “of it’s time”, I find uncomfortable to watch. Not least an entire routine in blackface. Just as well that was left behind when remaking it into White Christmas.

The Santa Clause (1994) – This (and at least the first sequel) only just missed out on the top five.

Elf (2003) – I sort of like it, but Will Farrell grates so much that it would never make my top 5. Top 10 would also be a stretch.

 

 

All-Time Top 5 Horror Games

There is probably going to be some poetic licence on the genre here, but they are all games I consider to be either horror or that I at least found scary. Given the topic of the list, it’ll probably be surprising that there are no Resident Evil or Silent Hill games here, but I’ve never been much of a fan. I love the idea of them, and the stories intrigue me, but the gameplay is just so tedious. Too much backtracking, and survival horror staples of things like limited ammo are much more annoying when you also have to deal with truly frightful camera angles and controls. Disclaimer here is that I’m yet to properly play Resident Evil 4, or try Silent Hill 2. I’ve heard enough about both to think I might enjoy those ones, so do intend to give them a go.

Other games missing are those that lean heavily on the ‘hide in the cupboard until the monster goes away’ mechanic (Alien Isolation & Amnesia, I’m looking at you). As I mentioned in my comments on The Evil Within, this doesn’t do anything for me either. Those aside, I’ll also include the usual list of ‘almost made it’ titles at the end.

5) Alan Wake (Xbox 360 / XB1 BC)

bNmnGBgAbsolutely should just be called “Stephen King” the game, the influences are blinding. Incredibly atmospheric and an absorbing story. The combat was fiddly, but became manageable enough with perseverance. I found I’d got zero patience to go back to that style when I attempted to play the DLC however, but the game itself deserves its place on this list.


4) Until Dawn (PS4)

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Completely took me back to that period of horror movies when everything was Scream or I Know What You Did Last Summer. The game play is pretty much a Telltale Game with jump scares and more QTEs, but it works well to deliver an entertaining story. The whole thing is about 8 hours long which I managed to play in one sitting. I’d highly recommend playing it that way if you can find the time.


3) Limbo & Inside (Vita & PS4)

ALi-1-460x215Cheating a bit and lumping these two together. The gameplay mechanics are near enough identical, and although the stories are different, even they have similarities. I played Limbo entirely on my Vita, and it was one of the best experiences I’ve had on the handheld. I was a bit disappointed Inside didn’t come to Vita, as I would definitely have played it that way as well. Some of the most atmospheric 2D platforming I’ve ever experienced. Something about the storytelling & gameplay evokes “Another World”, if you haven’t played either of these are definitely worth checking out.


2) Condemned: Criminal Origins (Xbox 360)

steamworkshop_webupload_previewfile_370687669_previewOne of the first games I played on the 360, this was a very pleasant surprise. It’s the only game I’ve played that really did a good job of Melee combat in a first person view. It’s also the only game in this list that I had to stop playing and turn all the lights on for a break when it got too much. I didn’t get very far with the sequel, but I’d like to give it another try if it comes to backwards compatibility on the Xbox One.


1) Metro Redux (PS4)

Metro-2033-Redux-Shows-Up-in-the-Steam-for-Linux-Database-456826-2My favourite horror game(s), and would probably also appear on a top 5 FPS games list. I’m cheating again as this is two games, and I played the remasters on PS4. I took a break in between playing the two games to read the first novel, Metro 2033 (the book the games are based on), and was completely immersed in that world, I was dreaming of those tunnels for months. I’ve since read a couple more in the series, and I’m cautiously excited about a new game. The new game appears to be leaning towards an open world style however, so I’m not holding my breath.


Other mentions:

The first two that almost made it, are both games I played over the last few months. Oxenfree & Murdered: Soul Suspect. Also should drop in a mention for the House of the Dead series, and also by extension the Resident Evil Chronicles games. I really like these, but as light gun games I can’t say I find them scary and they’d feel out of place in the list for me. The following are games I highly rate or had promise, but for one reason or another I’ve never played them through to completion, so I disqualified them from consideration for the top 5. They are:

Eternal Darkness (Gamecube)

eternal_darkness__sanity_s_requiem___steam_grid_by_theeverygameproject-d8d5k2rI’m hoping to go back and replay this, as I’m sure it would be in the top 5 if I’d actually completed it. Sadly I was heavily into a playthrough on my Wii when I got my first Xbox 360, by the time the novelty of the new console had worn off and I tried going back to finish Eternal Darkness, I couldn’t remember anything that was going on in my save. It is highly regarded by most people who have played it, and rightly so.


Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth (PC)

headerReally wanted to love this, the theme and tension of the first hour or so are amazing. Unfortunately I don’t know if that continues for the rest of the game, as it was ridiculously unstable, and I abandoned it after about the 20th game breaking bug.


Ecco the Dolphin (Mega Drive)

header (1)No I’m not kidding, this game is terrifying! Watched my sister complete it once, but playing it myself it gets too much once I get to Open Ocean. *shudder*

 


Dead Space (PC / Xbox 360)

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I’ve started this about 3 times, each time enjoying myself but for some reason not going back to it. It does seem really good, so I keep it on my backlog, for one more try.

 


 

All-time Top 5 JRPGs (wot I’ve played…)

Yeah a bit of a cheat this one, as I’ve only properly played 5 Japanese Role Playing Games (JRPGs) so that’ll be why your favourite isn’t in the list… I have tried to play plenty, but never got more than 2 hours into anything other than these 5.

I have really enjoyed the ones I have played (well the top 3 anyway) so I wouldn’t rule out playing more in the future. Anyway, on with the countdown!

Number 5 – Final Fantasy VII (PSX)

headerMy first JRPG, and apparently, the first one many of my friends played too. This game was a major event back in a high school, and for a while it seemed everyone was playing FFVII. I was quite enjoying it, albeit a departure from my usual choice of game. I do remember that trying to navigate the world map while also dealing with random encounters tested my patience, but the whole thing collapsed when my memory card corrupted around 20 hours in. I appreciate in the grand scheme of things, 20 hours isn’t very long, but that was pretty huge for me at the time, and certainly more than I’d be happy to play over.

I pretty much swore off the genre after this, and it would be quite a few years before I was to try them again.

Number 4 – Bravely Default (3DS)

BravelyDefault-810x449I gave this a go when struggling to find something other than Animal Crossing or Mario Kart to play on my 3DS. Discussions about it described a game with a similar feel to Final Fantasy VII which made me think perhaps I’d enjoy it. I was aware of the “outrage” at the changes made for the Western release from the anti video game censorship crowd, but they all seemed like changes for the better to me, so figured I’d give it a go.

I mostly enjoyed the game for maybe 18 hours. The story was nonsense and even with the localisation there was a a sufficient creepy ‘ick’ factor that never quite went away. (I think it was hard to distance from the fact that these characters were originally written to be 15 years old). However, the gameplay mechanics were fun, and I liked the ‘job’ system in building my party. It all got a bit grindy and dull though, and I just lost the will to come back to it.

Number 3 – Lost Odyssey (Xbox 360)

landscape-1481743951-lost-odysseyA game I played mostly by chance, got a bargain on release without knowing anything about it and fired it up just to see what it was. I was blown away by the graphics, it was easily the best looking game I’d seen so far on a console, and at first was just playing to admire the aesthetics. I got sucked in though, and it became the first JRPG I ever saw through to completion. The story was ridiculous, which I suspect may be an essential criteria for a JRPG, and the costume designs left me questioning the usefulness of such armor in a swordfight.

I really liked the combat though, and the timing based boost you could give to your attacks was surprisingly satisfying. I sometimes think I might replay this, but then I laugh at the thought of me replaying anything, never mind a 40+ hour epic, and the impulse goes away.

Number 2 – Panzer Dragoon Saga (Sega Saturn)

Panzer-Dragoon-SagaOnly played through this for the first time last month, and I am amazed how well it has held up. I was a big fan of Panzer Dragoon and Panzer Dragoon Zwei first time round on the Saturn, and this is doubtless the main reason I took to Saga the way I did. The art style was consistent with the previous games, and immediately felt like a comfortable return to that world.

The shift to turn-based combat was a concern before I started, I didn’t know how the previous rail-shooter style would translate. I need not have worried, the combat is superb, with the two basic attacks being lifted straight out of the other games to feel instantly familiar. The need to constantly keep re-positioning around the enemies and the bonus to attack speed granted for attacking as you move ensures that the combat remains engaging.

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I found the controls in general to be very well done, particularly in the parts where you’re navigating the world on your dragon. When revisiting early 3D games you often have to make allowances for the controls and/or camera, but I can honestly say I had no issues with either.

While the story here is no exception to my understanding of the JRPG norm, I did find myself happily reading all the subtitles and enjoying the many cut-scenes. This extra flavour for the world is a big part of why I’ve gone back to playing the original games, and why I’m optimistic that I might even beat them this time round.

Number 1 – Eternal Sonata (Xbox 360)

Eternal-Sonata-810x456Or, the one time I liked cel-shaded graphics.

I know about as much about JRPGs on the whole as I do Classical Music. The only composer I really like is Chopin, so the premise of this game immediately had me intrigued. The game is set inside a dream Frédéric Chopin has while he dies of Tuberculosis. Yeah. We’re well set up for another nonsense story, but this one did really hook me.

Until Eternal Sonata, I always found cel-shading to be a bit of a novelty. It’s such a perfect fit for making the whole game feel like an elaborate cartoon. It’s joyful, twee and yet manages to be interestingly educational at the same time, as along with the story cut-scenes it also has video history lessons relating to Chopin’s life. (From reading some commentary these weren’t to everyone’s taste, but I loved it)

The music in the game is obviously Chopin influenced, and accordingly spectacular. There are very few game soundtracks I listen to outside of playing the games, but the 4 disc album produced for this is still a staple on my iPod.

I remain annoyed the PS3 release afterwards had extra content, as I didn’t want to start over from the beginning after I completed it on the 360. I think I’d happily replay it now though if it was given a refresh for the modern consoles.

I’ve heard plenty of critique about Eternal Sonata, more than one person declare it “the worst JRPG I ever played”. I take some amusement from this, as it seems likely that as a generalisation, I can still say I don’t like JRPGs, and perhaps I like the ones I do because they are outliers within the genre.

What next?

I remain open to suggestions from anyone who can suggest games I might like based on what I’ve written above. I’ll be honest though and say there is next to no chance of me playing anything 16-bit or earlier.

I am thinking of playing Skies of Arcadia Legends, it always sort of appealed to me on Dreamcast, and now I’ve got the GameCube version which I’ve heard is generally an improvement.

Top 5 games 2016

Now seems as good a time as any to do a round up of the gaming year, and squeeze one more blog post into 2016.  Here we go for my Top 5 games of the year.  As usual its reverse order and I’ll throw a couple of ‘almost made it’ titles on at the end.

5) Doom

Surprisingly not the only first person shooter in the list, but the Doom reboot is superb.  Manages to play like all the great 90s FPS titles and not feel dated.  It’s brutal, but the campaign is a joy.  I haven’t touched the multiplayer, so can’t comment on that, but if you’re looking for a good single player shooter, definitely give it a go.  (I do find it interesting that some of the best single player shooters in recent years have been remakes of Wolfenstein, Doom and Shadow Warrior… maybe the sky isn’t falling?)

4) Forza Horizon 3

I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that this title alone managed to shift a few Xbox One consoles. Most of what I said about Forza Horizon 2 in my 10 reasons I own an Xbox One post still applies here, but even more so.  It’s gorgeous to look at and a joy to play.  I’m still assured that the first game in the series is the best one, but until I get chance to go back and play it properly myself, I’m happy to state that Forza Horizon 3 is one of the best racing games I’ve ever played, and easily the first title I’d recommend to someone looking for a current generation racer.

3) World of Warcraft Legion

Although not so much a game as an expansion pack, I’ve played plenty of games with less content than this expansion.  This made my list this year as it has been my favourite expansion so far, with only Wrath of the Lich King coming close, and with Legion, World of Warcraft is the best it’s ever been.  (Yes I played Vanilla WoW too, shut up.)

2) Life is Strange

This is also a sort of cheat, as the individual episodes came out in 2015.  However, it got released as a complete retail edition in January this year and I didn’t play it till after that, so I’m including it anyway.  I loved Life is Strange, and am eagerly looking forward to the sequel.  It’s the best single player game I’ve played this year, and I heartily recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good story (and great soundtrack) to their games. It’s also the best ‘Telltale’ style game I’ve played, which seems to have kind of spoiled me for their stuff, oops.

1) Overwatch 

Think this is top of a lot of people’s lists this year, and not without good reason. It’s just so much fun! My love for Blizzard is well known, and Overwatch just shows that they can just as easily turn their brand of developer magic to fresh new I.P. It looks lovely, the voice acting and sound design are excellent and it has entirely reawakened my love for multiplayer FPS in a time when Call of Duty and friends had pretty much run it into the ground.

The only criticism I have for Overwatch at all, is simply that I don’t manage to play as much as I’d like, so I’m not getting better.

Other mentions:

Worms WMD: This was really close to making the list, the best worms game since Armageddon and a complete return to form. Still hilarious, and still only has Bomberman as competition for best local multiplayer game.  (Mario Kart lingers in third place for me, looking nervously at Overcooked)

Street Fighter V: Before it came out, I really expected this to make the list. Where it counts, SFV is a fantastic game. Within the fights themselves, SFV is the best 1v1 I’ve ever played. It’s an absolute joy and I play with my buddy (and long term Street Fighter nemesis, the Ryu to my Ken) whenever we get chance . However, the shortage of single player content has been widely reported, and although we were happy with the streamlined package, the knock on effect in terms of sales have decimated the online scene.  Street Fighter IV was wildly popular, and as such it was quick to get a game online and there were plenty of opponents at all levels for matchmaking.  The limited sales of SFV however mean that it takes ages to get a game, and the only players to match with are the real hardcore, and it’s difficult to have fun if you can’t get evenly matched. Disappointing. If more of my friends would get Xbox Ones, I think I’d move over entirely to Killer Instinct.

 

 

All-Time Top 5 Arcade Puzzle Games

A good arcade puzzler is second only to a fighting game for a bit of 2-player versus. Like those fighting games, I’m not much good at these either (although I’m not entirely terrible at Bust-a-Move/Puzzle Bobble). That doesn’t stop me giving them a go though, and I like to play a variety so at least I’m not always losing in the same way.

Here we have my Top 5, in reverse order as usual. Many of these games came out on a multitude of platforms, I’ve just put the versions I play in the title.

5) Zoo Cube (GC & GBA)
A bit neglected as I hardly ever manage to play it with anyone, largely because no one else seems to have heard about it. I enjoy the GameCube version, but have probably spent more time with it on the Gameboy Advance. It’s pretty unique as a puzzler, with falling shapes coming towards your cube from 6 directions, and you having to rotate the cube to match the abstract animal shapes appropriately. The GameCube version supports 4-player, but I’ve never found myself in a room with 4 people who knew how to play…

4) Baku Baku Animal (Saturn)
The second animal themed puzzler on this list, Baku Baku Animal does at least follow a more familiar pattern. Blocks containing animal heads or food stuffs fall from the sky, match the animal to its food to clear the blocks and send more blocks to your opponent. Bright, cheerful and very SEGA!

3) Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo (Saturn, PS3, PSP)
Recognisable characters from Capcom’s Street Fighter and Darkstalkers games line up to puzzle each other to death. Big combos on the gem matching front see your character giving the opponent a bit of a kicking in the middle of the screen. If you like the art style of this one, it’s worth also picking up Pocket Fighter, which is a 1 on 1 fighting game in the Street Fighter style, featuring the Puzzle Fighter versions of these characters.

2) Bust-a-Move 2 / Puzzle Bobble 2 (Saturn and anything else I get my hands on)
This held the top spot for a very long time, and may well claw it back in time. The Puzzle Bobble franchise is iconic, often imitated never bettered. Taking it’s characters and design from the Bubble Bobble series, the game is a joy. Fire coloured bubbles up the screen, matching 3 or more of the same colour in order to make them disappear, the more you get rid of at once the more you send over to your opponent to ruin their day. Or more often, you slightly miss your shot, frantically try to repair the damage your own ineptitude has caused while your opponent gleefully sends over more bubbles to add to your ever descending wall.

1) Puyo Puyo Tetris (PS4)
Probably cheating slightly, this is exceptional value given that along with the crazy Puyo Tetris mode (where you’re matching Puyos and making Tetris lines), it also includes arguably the finest versions of both Puyo Puyo and Tetris standalones too. The genius stroke here is when you play a versus match up, each player decides what to play. When competing with my girlfriend, I generally play Tetris against her Puyo Puyo, which gives me an almost fighting chance before my inevitable demise.

Although Puyo Puyo Tetris is still a Japanese only release, it is well worth importing. The menus are all in Japanese but there are plenty of excellent fan-translations online to help you navigate them, and even translations for the entire story mode should you be that way inclined.

Other mentions:
Dr Mario and Columns both almost made the list. Dr Mario missed out because I am entirely useless at it to the point of not enjoying myself even trying. Columns would have made the list if I was working just on childhood memories, it just doesn’t hold up today.