Hey Ninjaropers, this is my first full post here on TNR so what better way to start things off then to follow in Tod’s footsteps and regale in a bit of my personal history with videogames. If you were to walk with me down my gaming memory lane, the chronology would read 1991-1997, Sega (Game Gear, Megadrive); 1997-2010, Nintendo (N64, Gamecube, DS); and most recently, April 2010-currently, Sony (PS3). That timeline may shed light on these choices:
5. Advance Wars: Dual Strike
When I last checked into this game recently, the game stats option informed me that I had logged in over 215 hours into this game! And then I started playing through the little war-torn countryside of Macro Land again and my tally is probably close to 300 hours now. As always, gameplay is the biggest draw to any of my most favourite games and the intricacies and strategy built into Intelligent System’s mini half-RTS, half-RPG is nothing short of genius. And ADDICTIVE (300 hours, obviously).
But what really elevates this gem above the rest are the little visual considerations. The units in each of the five factions are charming, almost super-deformed-styled war machines. It really brings out the adorable side of military combat. Additionally, there are 28 characters in this game and each of them has the most original and incredible designs to them; more in the calibre of Studio Gainax than your average DS affair. This game is the total package with a cherry-bomb on top.
4. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
This is arguably the best Zelda videogame of all time and undoubtedly still the best 3D affair. I watched the sales clerk at Westfield Chermside unlock the N64 cabinet and put this in a week before the release date in December, 1998 so I’d like to think I was the first person to play this in Brisbane haha! Even though all I was able to achieve was get a sword and shield, I knew the journey ahead was going to be something special.
With a time-bending and fantastically emotionally-driven story, 9 dungeons, an open and expansive Hyrule and the best NPC supporting cast in any Nintendo game, I had no idea back in Kokiri Forest just how epic the journey was to be. Ocarina of Time is the type of Zelda game that Nintendo still has yet to reproduce let alone better.
3. Super Mario 64
Sometimes I think about how I can never play Mario 64 for the first time ever again and it makes me die a little. That stupid face-stretching minigame at the game start screen. The even stupider cake that Peach was baking. It was AWESOME. Running through the corridors of the castle and jumping through that first painting to enter a world of Mario like no one had ever seen; it changed my perspective on games forever and was the first time a videogame made me believe in something I can’t quite describe – a certain magic, fantasy or imagination.
Those perfectly calibrated controls, control over the camera and wide-open worlds, it can be easy in this modern day to take for granted how Mario 64 completely changed the face of videogames. But that’s the genius of Shigeru Miyamato.
2. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
For me this is the perfect videogame in terms of art and storytelling. The cel-shaded look was such a shock when it was first revealed but when the game finally rolled around what gamers found was a a totally unique, immersive and utterly beautiful world. Everything from the character design to the soundtrack was endearing and unavoidably Wind Waker. Even bolder than the change in visual style was the move of the Zelda timeline into 100 years into the future; a risky move when you meddle with beloved franchise stories and characters but one that has since proven has worked as multiple continuations of this canon has appeared on DS.
For me, playing this game was like controlling your own Disney or Ghibli production. The world was rich, Hyrule has never been loaded with so much character, and the story was fresh but with a constant nod to the Zelda of old. It also has one of the most badass finishing moves on Ganon to end the game you’re ever likely to see. I live every day of my life in an undying hope of an official Wind Waker 2.
1. Sonic The Hedgehog 2
It was really tough splitting this between Wind Waker but I’ll give it to the blue blur on sentimental grounds. This game is the perfect Sonic game in my opinion; Sonic 1 was good but dated and Sonic 3 was good but started trying too hard to be cool and flashy. Sonic 2 was the perfect balance in all aspects of the game.
The stages didn’t drag on needlessly or employ too many of the ramps and twirls that would litter the Sonic games afterwards. The multiplayer Vs mode was actually fun and very competitive in my household (my sister went undefeated from 1994 – 1997). Typical of Sega, the tunes in it are INCREDIBLE with beats and loops so ahead of its time it would blow the backwards cap off of today’s most hipster electro kids (Mystic Cave Zone.mp3 the top of the lot).
No gimmicks, no soap shoes, no green eyes and NO 3D; this is the Sonic game that I can literally play over and over and over again. And I have.
Special mention: Mickey Mouse’s Castle of Illusion (Game Gear), NBA Jam (Megadrive), Rhythm Tengoku (GBA), Mario Kart 64