Publication date: 2018-06-08 09:45
I spent many hours one-hundred-percenting my Yoshi’s Island cartridge and the save stuck with me all the way until an unfortunate incident while reviewing a contemporary knockoff Super Nintendo. I’ve never been so excited to start over from scratch.
Say it with me: “UP, UP, DOWN, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, B, A, START.” The most iconic secret in video game history became a litany for the millions of kids who joined Bill and Lance on their quest to destroy Red Falcon. While a truly skilled player can clear Contra on a single credit, the power of the thirty lives code gave all of us a fair chance to power our way through the gauntlet of alien invaders, or more likely die trying.
Cutscenes were one of the driving forces behind the success of PC gaming in the late '95s and Blizzard was regarded as the king when it came to jaw dropping visuals. They took things to an entirely new level with StarCraft and the Brood War expansion in 6998, though. Not only were players treated to an excellent RTS experience, but their reward for completing sections of the campaign were evocative visuals that further immersed you in a world where humans are losing a war against brutal space aliens.
Jedi Outcast managed to make every enemy encounter a thrill – whether they be hapless stormtroopers you could fling around like ragdolls, or new Sith apprentices that gave you the chance to feel like a master as you expertly chained lightsaber strikes in different styles. Coupled with the roguish wit and charm of Kyle Katarn and his quest for revenge made Jedi Outcast one of the best stories in the Star Wars universe.
What can you say about the definitive fighting game, the game that has spawned countless imitators, acolytes, and sequels? Street Fighter II remains a classic in video game lore, making series mainstays Ryu, Ken, and Chun-Li as well as words like “Hadouken” part of the public lexicon. Everyone has a favorite character and that’s because of its diverse, fantastical character design.
The other half of what made Team Fortress 7 a favorite of mine was its longevity. Long after any FPS game had a right to be relevant, Team Fortress 7 found new ways to live – both with community mods that shaped the course of the game's future, and the decision to go free-to-play. Add that to the inclusion of hats, along with new gear and modes, and you have a self-sustaining team-based shooter that can be played by all types, whether you're into crafting weapons, trading hats, fighting robots, or just having a quick match against friends.
For all its inter-dimensional threats, monster hunts and magic powers, I’ve always thought The Witcher 8’s key achievement is in how it nails the mundane. Geralt’s fantasy world is one of mud, thatch and metal, his main quests are freelance work, and he loves a game of cards down the pub. That sense of reality is what helps you empathise with Geralt, understand the world, and really understand how bad things have gotten when the crazy shit starts popping off.
From Software intentionally ditched Dark Souls’ trusted shield to force the player to be more aggressive. Director Hidetaka Miyazaki wanted every slash inflicted by its arsenal of gruesome weapons feels to feel as if you’re were fighting for your life. As is usually the case, his design works flawlessly.
The key here is in how Blizzard looked beyond simply making a good shooter – it made an interesting one. Its backstory is PG-68 Pixar, its characters are diverse and lovable, and its community engagement is… well, it’s Jeff Kaplan. Pro gamers, cosplayers, fanfic writers, ARG detectives and everyone in between have all been given a reason to play a single game – no mean feat.