It’s been a pretty busy last week or so here in RKS Land, so sorry for no posts for a while. I have decided in the intervening days that I should expand my Top 30 Favourite Games to a Top 50. I’ve simply thought of too many great games that would have to be left out of a Top 30! So, as the five games I’m posting here bring the total so far to 25, I think I’ll take a break from the favourite game list for a while and try to establish some of my other planned types of posts. So, tomorrow (hopefully!), will be the first of my silly Top Five lists! In the meantime, here’s the next five of my Favourite Games…
Gradius – PC Engine (1991)
Or Nemesis, to use its correct UK title, but I always preferred the Japanese name. Regardless of what you call it, no one can deny the effect it has had on the genre it helped to define. Some say it was the first shoot ’em up to feature power-ups; others claim it was the first to feature end-of-level-bosses. It certainly had unique and creative stages for such an early game. The PC Engine version is my favourite and is almost arcade-perfect. In fact, it even has a whole extra level and an awesome remixed soundtrack! For a while, the Speccy version was the only one that I’d played, and, based on that version, I steered clear of others. However, when I got it for free with my PC Engine, I figured I’d give it another try, and I’m pleased I did! Whilst very tough going, and suffering from a bit of slow-down when things get busy, it’s a supremely playable shooter and features lovely crisp graphics, great music, and enough variety and hectic shooting action to keep any fan happy for a good while!
Bubble Bobble – Saturn (1996)
What more can be said about this classic? I first enjoyed this game when I received the excellent Spectrum version as a gift many moons ago. I found it really tough going but loved every minute all the same. Then, a good few years later, I got the Sega Master System version which, for one reason or another, seemed to be quite a bit easier, and I got right to the end of the game. Maybe it was easier, maybe I was just better – it had been so long since I’d played the Speccy version it’s hard to say! Then came the arcade-perfect Saturn version, bundled with Rainbow Islands, which gave me plenty of oppotunity for practice again. Since then, I’ve played through the game on MAME, grabbing a screenshot of each of the 100 stages in the process. Now THAT was hard! Still, it never seems to matter how hard this game is, it’s always super-playable. That could be down to the highly intricate secrets, which sees bonuses and collectibles change depending on how you play, but it’s most likely because it’s simply such a great game. And that damn music!
Streets of Rage 2 – Mega Drive (1992)
It’s testament to this game’s greatness that countless Sega fans and fighting game fans alike still pine for another game in the series after all these years! It’s little wonder too. I remember when the first SOR game came out – it was a revelation, intended to rival Capcoms Final Fight on the recently released SNES, but in the mind of many it was superior. After such a groundbreaking first game, I for one wasn’t expecting a great deal from the sequel. But, as we all now know, it was amazing! Bigger, better graphics, another fantastic soundtrack by Yuzo Koshiro, more playable characters (including the lovely Blaze once again!), and an even larger game to play though. SOR2 is still counted among the greatest games of its type, and universally revered, and it’s easy to see why.
Street Fighter 3: Third Strike – Dreamcast (1999)
Capcom sure took their sweet time with this! A lot of years, and countless variations of SF2 passed before it finally arrived. I haven’t played either of the previous versions of SF3, but if this DC version is anything to go by, they’ll certainly be passable! The character roster in this game is arguably less appealing (though also less sterotyped) than the fighters in the great SF2, but their nuances also take longer to learn, not to mention master, and be mastered they must, for this is a pretty tough game! I can just about finish it on default difficulty using the ever-reliable Ryu (now complete with a ruling new side-kick), although the final boss character, Gill, is a right bunghole! Various intricate new features also arrived with this sequel of the kind that I have trouble mastering, such as the much-praised ‘parrying’ system, but even if you’re as crap as me, you’ll still find a lot of hyper-fighting action here!
The New Zealand Story – Mega Drive (1990)
This is another one I first played on the Speccy. I still recall the time I was having a really good session one morning before school, so I paused it (using my fancy Multiface 3) so I could resume when I got home, only there was a big storm which caused a powercut! Grrrr! Anyway, a few years later, I was lucky enough to obtain this awesome Japan-only MD version from my friend Stu and his brother Darren. The first thing that struck me about it was that the levels were different! I’m still not sure why, actually, but I’ve played this version so many times now, I almost can’t remember what the original level designs were! Anyway, I guess it doesn’t matter too much. The key ingredient with games like this is the gameplay and addictiveness, and NZS has both in abundance! As Stu will testify, it can be a damn tough game, but it’s also among Taito’s most playable.
Yeay! 🙂 I finally finished the next post! It’s taken me a while due to certain unforeseen circumstances, but hopefully a more regular posting service will resume now! Next time, I’ll try something a bit different and resume the Top 30 (now the Top 50!) another time…