Game of the decade 1990-1999
  • Yes, it would be incredibly hard and time consuming to try to give an objective list. My ten were partially from my experience and partially from the importance/quality of the game - as best as I can figure.
    AFTER HOURS by The Weeknd out 20th March! XO
  • Not did I have mine ready to go from the top 100 thread, I've just remembered I wrote short reviews for all of them in there, so that's all done as well.
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    Every list I see I think of two more I should probably have added to mine
    "I spent years thinking Yorke was legit Downs-ish disabled and could only achieve lucidity through song" - Mr B
  • 1. Mario 64: The standard for not only every 3D platforming game to follow, but every 3D game, period. I was never more excited to play a game than I was with this. Had the big Official Nintendo magazine with the preview/review/guide and was obsessed with it every night. I remember the first time I played it in HMV on Grafton St and it completely blew my tiny little mind. I didn't have enough money when it launched, so the wait was excruciating, but when it came, it was an artistic explosion in my life, maybe the single biggest ones of my life. Still plays great and I wish we could get it on Switch. 

    2. Super Mario World: My pick for best 2D Mario game, though very closely followed by Yoshi's Island - more on that in a bit - and Mario 3. Just a joyous and colourful game that is incredibly inventive and FUN with three huge capital letters. Adding Yoshi is an interesting difference between this and 3, adding an extra safety net for less experienced players, and a Disney-esque flair of a character. Love all the secrets and exploration that Nintendo encourage. 

    3. Yoshi's Island: A sequel in name, but really a spin off of supreme quality. Compared to basically any 2D platformer that is not Mario World, this would come out on top for me. Similarly full of joy as Mario but a different feel in the playing of the thing, and Yoshi is proven to be more than capable of supporting his/her own story. Cute as fuck. Gorgeous to look at. Incredibly fun to play. 

    4. Super Street Fighter 2: We never had the first few iterations of Street Fighter 2, but we did have this one on the Super NES. We played it probably more than any other game of that era. Very addictive, with big time depth and memorable characters and good stages. The series that basically started this crazy beat em up thing. 
     
    5. Doom: We never had this on anything but we both played it a lot in other people's houses. The violence of the thing, the tactile sensation of reloading the weapons, and shooting down a demon with a chunky as fuck shotgun... an early-ish sign of the power that the first person shooter would have on video games.
    AFTER HOURS by The Weeknd out 20th March! XO
  • 6. Day of the Tentacle: We had played a couple of point and click adventures, but this was the one that stuck in my mind most, for its sense of humour, ridiculous and clever puzzles/solutions, and because this was the game that we tried out our speakers on. Yes, there was a time when computers didn't come with fucking speakers! Anyway, I still love it, having played the remastered version on my laptop a couple of years back. Holds up very well. 

    7. Ocarina of Time: I will always remember reading the review in Edge that gave it a rare 10, and seeing the (admittedly sexist) ad on TV. The Most Anticipated Video Game of All Time, was not hyperbole for me and my friends. Doesn't hold up quite as well as Mario 64, but is still a brilliant game and story, which mattered most for me at the time and still does today. 

    8. Sim City (Super NES): When we got our Super NES, our Uncle took us out to the shops to get a game as a Christmas present. This is the one we selected. A really addictive and pleasing game made a few percent better with a bit of Nintendo character (I was happy to see the helper guy reappear in Link's Awakening). Loved when the seasons changed. 

    9. Metal Gear Solid: I never owned a PlayStation, but I did have an extended lend of one for a time. This was my favourite game from that time, even though it was a bit too hard for me. I thought the story was great. Definitely a big leap ahead for stories in games. 

    10. Goldeneye: Got this at Christmas the year it was released and ended up doing literally every possible thing in it. I wasn't good enough to do all the difficulty levels, but I watched my brother do them. A very good use of the license of Bond, with flair and at the time, a game changing multiplayer.
    AFTER HOURS by The Weeknd out 20th March! XO
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    Great start
  • My partner really liked the master system castle of illusion. I think they are completely different games in the way the Sonics are.

    For me I think

    half life
    super Mario All Stars.
    Broken Sword
    System Shock 2
    Virtua Cop 2 (PC)
    Pokemon Red
    Tetris GB (was that 1989?)
    Link to the Past (I really wish I wasn’t some idiot impatient child who zoomed into the cheat book the second I had any friction).
    Goof Troop
    Grand Theft Auto 2
  • What year was Typing of the Dead released? That was good.
    "But enough talk. HAVE AT YOU!"
  • Oh shit I forgot Pokemon Silver/Gold.
  • I'm going to stick with my original list, I think, and replicate the reviews I did from the 100 games thread, because I haven't changed my thoughts since then:

    1. Super Mario 64
    When I played Mario 64 in the early N64 days it felt like entering the next level of game design. While 3D games had become the norm, most had only hinted at the potential in that extra dimension. Mario 64 realised it, and literally set us free to run amok in its superbly crafted playgrounds. Even now, the level of freedom granted by the move set and level design remains an achievement, with so many ways to maneouvre, no invisible walls (except the edges of each large area), and no scenery that's out of play. The result is a wonderfully consistent and sturdy toy box, in which you can clamber, flip and hurdle with abandon.

    It all revolves around Mario's signature action - the jump - which is implemented to provide room for self-expression. It's not merely a matter of judging heights and lengths, but of performing tight turns to create momentum for wall kicks, or engineering suitable run-ups for triple jumps. With the addition of cannon travel in some courses, the game really opens itself up to your ingenuity and precision, whether crafting audacious short cuts or just reaching your goal in style.

    In addition, many levels are among the most memorable in any Mario game, even those with more predictable themes (ice and lava). There's a commitment here to experimental ideas that means you're constantly being thrown into something new, from precision platforming to racing to exploration to boss fights. The way the styles are all integrated into single spaces is a marvel, with repeated visits to each level revealing more about its interconnections, and prodding you to navigate it in a new way. In some cases, such as Tick Tock Clock or Tiny Huge World, the composition of the challenge changes depending on how you enter the world.

    Everything about the game, including Mario's boundless enthusiasm, is designed to make you play with it, and is topped off by the joy of swinging Bowser round by his tail.

    2. Final Fantasy VII
    It's easy to view Final Fantasy VII merely as a game of its time, because it was the first major JRPG to really exploit the CD-ROM format, with its dramatic score and cinematic presentation, but it remains a masterful example of the genre. Most significantly, the storytelling and characters are exceptional, despite some contrived plot points, while the tactical scope offered by the battle system puts many more recent RPGs to shame.

    In terms of story, the fundamental aspect is that the characters are simply a joy to be with, as all are interestingly designed and fully formed,but also contribute to a sense of common purpose that builds throughout the game. This is reinforced by the world design, and a great cast of villains from multiple factions, all introduced with immaculate pacing in the opening six hours, allowing the game to spread into a more familiar RPG structure thereafter. There are plenty of memorable locations and moments still to come, of course, and each is augmented by the amazing soundtrack, which adds atmosphere and emotional weight to every event.

    As for the gameplay, there's materia - magic stones that can be used by any character and combined in various ways to create a huge range of offensive or defensive abilities and effects. It's not immediately clear quite how flexible this system is, and arguably the game could be tougher to coerce you into using it more creatively, but if you experiment the potential is liberating.

    There's much more to mention besides, including some great camerawork, the personal and global narrative themes, and a ton of optional mini-games and end game content. The latter could become a massive grind, but it was worth it, just to stay longer in Final Fantasy VII's immensely detailed and imaginative world. 

    3. Street Fighter II Turbo
    The SNES is the one console I regularly played with friends. A group of us gathered together most evenings, usually with a SNES among us, and usually with Street Fighter 2 slotted in it, preferably Turbo. It was the game back then - everyone played it, and we had really learned how it all worked. Or so we thought.

    Then I bought a player's guide and we soon realised there were aspects of street fighting that we'd never fully exploited. The 'cross-up', for example, and of course that now-so-familiar term, the 'combo'. Specifically, the two-in-one combo, where a normal punch or kick could be linked with a special move to devastating effect. A new phase of the addiction took hold as we practised these finer techniques, and the true depths of the game emerged.

    All these years later, I've still never played anything that elicited the same blend of skill, showmanship and psychological manoeuvring. Even though our fights were nearly always Ken vs Ken (we just preferred Ken) there were so many possibilities in each bout. Everything in it is a risk-reward calculation that hangs on tiny variations in position and timing. Shoot a fireball from too close as your opponent jumps in and you're in trouble. If they jump late (or better, if you feint and trick them into jumping) you dragon punch them. Now you've a chance to fly it at them, to land a combo if you execute it right and they get their blocking wrong.

    Naturally, there's far more besides - it's often a constant back and forth, trying to work an opening, chipping away with single shots while maintaining your guard, tension rising as the energy bars reduce. Or, someone exploits a gap in the opening seconds and it's over in an instant. It's clinical, brutal, heart-poundingly competitive. It never needed any new characters, super moves or 3D graphics. It was already perfect.

    4. Super Metroid
    With 'Metroidvania' now shorthand for a certain kind of game structure, it's easy to forget what else made the original template stand out. More than anything is how well it conveys the sense that you are isolated on an unknown, unfriendly planet. As the rain beats down outside, you head for the shelter of the caves, fighting through bizarre wildlife intertwined around ancient ruins, then work down to the near-silence underground, and the solitude presses upon you. 

    But this is not merely atmosphere - it's at the core of the game. Thus, ageing computer terminals may still offer maps and energy recharges, but they won't talk to you or tell you where to go. You feel lost because you're meant to, wandering a hostile environment, accompanied by threatening alien music, seeking pathways and passages while blasting the flora and fauna. And as you wander, so much seems barred or out of reach. Doors that won't open, of course, but also alternate routes running below you, strange statues that must mean something, items placed just too high to grasp, areas that melt your spacesuit with blistering heat.

    Most importantly, many of these are not simply locks demanding application of a specific key, but tests of skill and observation. So, the grappling hook or the boost jump, for example, are versatile tools that grant opportunities for progress through practice, ingenuity and experimentation. You notice that a part of the wall is different, or that there's an unbroken flat surface long enough to build up your speed boost. In some cases, you're even given ideas from the way certain indigenous creatures behave. And then you actually have to execute your plan.

    The level design is dense and precise, leaving visual clues that hint at the feats required to access its hidden treasures. But the game's commitment to your loneliness is its greatest asset - essential to your sense of discovery and achievement.  

    5. F-Zero X
    I still haven't played another racing game that puts 30 vehicles on the track at once, nor one that makes it so much fun to work your way through the pack. There are actually quite a number of elements that make F-Zero X a great experience though. The track design is fantastic for one, with so many twists, jumps, tunnels and tubes that give each course an individual character. The speed arrows placed around each one encourage optimum racing lines, and the velocity with which it all moves demands fine control.

    Then there's the 'combat' aspect, which wisely does away with the Mario Kart style weapons that Wipeout commandeered. Instead you can ram your opponents, which when timed correctly can send them crashing into the sides or flying off the track altogether. And because winning a race puts you at the back of the pack for the next one, you have to get good at dodging and forcing you way through at the right moments. Then, you also realise that the barge move doubles as a great way of taking tight bends without slowing down, and suddenly you're playing an even faster game and really competing at the higher difficulty levels.

    After all that, the final touch of genius is in tying your manual boost ability to your energy bar. It pushes you to boost to the limit, crossing the finish line with just a sliver of energy left, because if you play it safe and conserve energy you might never catch the leaders. It's perfect risk-reward, and a lot of races come down to the wire because of it (works great in Time Trial mode too). I couldn't get enough, and in the end I'd finished every cup (including the superb X cup with its random track generator that could throw up some crazy bends) on every difficulty with every car. There's no reason to do that at all. It was just so enjoyable.

    6. Super Bomberman
    Always my first choice for multiplayer sessions in the SNES days, whenever Street Fighter 2 was given a rest. It was really just this one particular stage in the first SNES game that stood out - 'speed zone' - which not only contained all the different power ups but also had character movement stuck on super fast.

    Thus, the tactical possibilities were maximised and it could all unfold (or unravel) at a startling pace. Grab a boxing glove early and you might be able to punch a bomb over the wall to trap an opponent in his corner. Get the full power pick up and bombs could take out rivals from across the screen, before they knew they were in danger. But best of all was always the manually detonated bombs, which not only allowed you to quickly clear blocks, but were also efficient killers when combined with the kick power up, and especially useful for swift hit and runs. Drop one next to a foe, nip round the corner and immediately blow it up - they'd have to react instantly to survive it.

    But of course, the wonderful thing about Bomberman, and even more so in speed zone, is that everything you do has a chance of backfiring spectacularly. Never has the phrase 'hoist by your own petard' been more regularly appropriate, and the greater your power and the more demonic your intentions, the bigger the danger you pose to yourself. For this reason, merely surviving can be as strong a tactic as aggression, as opponents blow themselves up or box themselves in trying to land the killer explosion.

    Yet it's far from a game of luck, despite the random distribution of power ups, as ultimately the most important tool in your armoury is your ability to spot a safe space between the bombs and move there instantly. It all adds up to the perfect multiplayer recipe of clinical assassinations, comedic pratfalls and against the odds comebacks. 

    7. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
    Everything about SotN is a little messy and a little loose. But for me it's precisely the rough edges that make it such a classic. It's clear early on that it's a bit of a Frankenstein's monster, stitched together from ideas and assets that span the SNES and PS1 eras. The visuals combine old sprites with detailed backgrounds and bosses, there's speech but it's oddly low quality, and even the music, while consistently excellent, seems to choose styles at random.

    But the game structure creates the most intrigue, and it's not done justice by calling it a Metroid clone, even though it shares the basic features. It's actually far more open, with only a few significant barriers to unlock, and the amount of access each power up grants varies wildly. In particular, once you get the bat form you can go to the 'ending' having explored maybe half the castle, while the 'twist' that opens up the true ending is hidden behind some fairly obscure stuff and whole areas you could easily miss.

    And of course there is that twist, which is not only surprisingly generous but effectively throws out the rest of the rule book for a game with light RPG elements. Suddenly you're completely free to roam and tackle a load of new bosses in any order. You'll be over levelled for some and under levelled for others and the game doesn't care. It throws weapons, armour and items at you, some of which are virtually useless and some which have great powers you might never know about, and gives you access to special magic attacks that you could find accidentally at the start of the game or miss completely.

    In short, SotN is happy to let you play with it, without being precious about how you experience it. Mostly, it leaves you alone to wander, explore, discover, and see the vast array of sights, while always enjoying the soundtrack. No other 'Metroidvania' game has its unique character, maybe because it wasn't entirely intentional in the first place.

    8. Suikoden 1 & 2 (2, if I have to choose)
    On the face of it, the PS1 Suikoden games are mere traditional JRPGs, to the point of even sticking to classic sprite-based graphics. The turn-based combat, map traversal and dungeon exploration would feel immediately familiar to anyone acquainted with the genre. Suikoden 2 is superior to the first, with its vastly expanded world and plot, smarter visuals, and wealth of sub-games and side quests, but it still reproduces the tested formula. Yet both games remain favourites, because the feature that really elevates the series and structures its best elements is consistently strong between them (plus the original's compact simplicity has its own charms).

    In each case, you are one of the 108 stars of destiny, fated to band together and battle an evil empire sweeping the continent. At least, that is, if you can recruit them all. In practice, this means you meet numerous individuals on your travels who are potential stars. Some join you automatically as part of the story, while others require you to meet specific conditions. Many of these characters can fight by your side in your 6-person party, bringing unique skills and team-up moves to otherwise simple combat. Furthermore, they set the ground for a different mode of battle, which emerges as chapters culminate in strategic showdowns between armies.

    And, naturally, you soon need a headquarters for your crew to gather, and so developing a base becomes central to your endeavours. Gradually, your sparse and shabby hideout transforms into a bustling maze of living quarters, shops and communal spaces. As it fills with characters, you feel the desire to explore the world and seek out more, and the simple RPG becomes a mission to complete your Utopian enclave.

    9. The Secret of Mana
    At a time when the joy of an epic RPG quest was often ground down by random battles, Secret of Mana removed them altogether and replaced them with the play style of an action game. Thus, within the framework of a huge sprawling adventure and character progression, combat became an enjoyable and coherent means of advancement.

    Enemies visibly blocked your way, requiring you to outmanoeuvre them and counter their offence with charged attacks and magic blasts. Yet, remarkably, the RPG party remained present, with three main characters fighting together that you could instantly switch between and co-ordinate strategically. Meanwhile, the smart wheel menus granted instant access to spells and items without breaking the flow too much. It's an easy to use yet flexible system that enables you to focus on traversing the environments, without sacrificing a decent challenge.

    As for the environments, the bright colour palette and relaxed backing tunes in overground sections and towns welcome you in and invite you to enjoy your journey at a leisurely pace. These contrast with the foreboding atmosphere of the various castles and caves, with their cold greys and clanging music, where urgent objectives lie. It's a world full of charm and atmosphere that wants you to wander every one of its locations, which are as many and varied as you could expect of any 'proper' RPG.

    And then, of course, there's multi-tap support, allowing three players to take the journey together. This experience was sometimes chaotic, but mostly a great exercise in teamwork and a wonderful way to share a superbly crafted adventure. 
     
    10. Shining Force 1 & 2 (2, if I have to choose)
    There are a number of strategy RPGs that are among my favourites, but the MD Shining Force games are where the fascination started. At the time I'd played nothing like them, and they seemed so expansive, imaginative and tactically interesting. Figuring out the pros and cons of each grid-based move felt like a game of chess (literally in one memorable scene in the sequel), as advancing too quickly or too slowly really could make a huge difference between picking off enemies and getting surrounded, while poor spacing of your troops could leave them either vulnerable to area of effect magic or unable to gang up quickly on close range attackers.

    Even before all that, there was the difficulty of picking your team. Making sure you had a good balance of classes in battle was of course essential, but do you leave out one of your reliable veterans for a potentially powerful new recruit, or rely on the same faces every time to get them promoted as quickly as possible? At the same time, while the overall stories in the games were standard fantasy fare, each member of the force was an actual character, with a name, picture, backstory and personality traits, so you wanted to look after them.

    There was also plenty of variety in settings and opponents, and in the second game especially some great set pieces. More recent series in the genre (Fire Emblem, Disgaea, Final Fantasy Tactics) have naturally made big advancements in the formula, so it can seem quite basic now. But they all owe a big debt to Shining Force, which did so much to establish that formula to begin with.
  • Andy wrote:
    Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe

    Thank fuck somebody else is seeing sense around here.
  • No Zelda, Jon?
    "But enough talk. HAVE AT YOU!"
  • hylian_elf wrote:
    No Zelda, Jon?
    Just missed out. The next ones would've been:
    Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)
    Super Mario World (SNES)
    Yoshi's Island (SNES)
    Contra 3 (SNES)
    Ridge Racer (PS1)
    Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)

    I wanted all of those as well, but what can you do?
  • I'm sure Zelda won't be short of votes anyway.
  • That''s made me want to play the Suikoden games again soon. Wish I had them on something other than the Vita.
  • Birdorf
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    I'm here at the minute. Probably stuff I've forgot and I need to get rid of some.

    Tomb Raider
    Civ 2
    Link to the Past
    Zelda 64
    MK 64
    Mario 64
    Gran Turismo
    FF7
    Halo
    Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts
    Secret of Mana
    Super Metroid

    Big up to Ram for the Excitebike shout out.
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  • Halo was 2000
    "But enough talk. HAVE AT YOU!"
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    Ah, that's a start then.
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  • Yeah, quick rule of thumb that anything on PS2/GC/Xbox is too late, unless of course it was a rerelease on them.
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    @jonb - you *final* then?
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    Also @mugginsxo same qu?
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    I feel as though I shouldn't leave out Lemmings, Settlers 2 or Sega Rally.
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    I wanted Lemmings but thought Worms deserved it more
    "I spent years thinking Yorke was legit Downs-ish disabled and could only achieve lucidity through song" - Mr B
  • regmcfly
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    I can't leave out Doom or Quake but I have to only pick one

    And then there's civ 2 and theme park / hospital
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    I'm just glad we don't have to have the Civ 2 > Civ 3 thing again.
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  • Colin mcrae 2.0 is 2000. Fuck this thread.

    ;)
    I'm still great and you still love it.
  • Not final. Just ad hoc thinking about it and noting mentions here.....

    Tenchu
    Gran tourismo
    Goldeneye
    (not perfect dark, because apparently 2000, so again, fuck this thread.)
    Blast corps
    Mario 64
    Mariocart 64
    Metal gear solid
    Parasite eve
    Xi (devil's dice)
    Banjo kazooie
    Panzer dragoon saga
    Chrono cross
    Driver
    THPS
    I'm still great and you still love it.
  • Andy wrote:
    Fuck knows how some of you have narrowed it down to ten already, unless you had it sitting waiting and ready to go.
    Just pick the first 10 games that come to mind...
    "Like i said, context is missing."
    http://ssgg.uk
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    I'm putting cash money that the answer to ram's dilemma for Andy and also an answer in Andy's final list is Bushido Blade.

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