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Aldrichs top five video games

by Aldrich Tangpos
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by Aldrich Tangpos

Over the past 20 years I’ve played hundreds of games on more than 20 different game platforms. Hell, maybe that number is even close to a thousand? So you can imagine my predicament when I decided to name my top five videos games….. too many great games, too many memories, and so few slots on this short list. It should be more like top 25 games, or even 50 (but as you will see this blog is long enough as it is). So after weeks of some careful thought here are my top five favourite games, ranging from age, genre and system 🙂

Shadow of the colossus – 2006 (PS2)

Just when the PS2 had almost met it’s glorious end, along comes a game that takes everyone by surprise, and becomes one of the best games of that generation. Set in a decaying world, the game revolves around a young character named “wander” who enters into a massive shrine and places a young, lifeless girl on an alter. The spirits in the shrine explain that in order for the girl to waken he needs to search and slay 16 unique monsters called colossi.

The story doesn’t get deeper than that, but it’s enough drive for the players to further his adventure into the unknown. This is when it gets interesting, the game is well known for its unique gameplay structure: You find each colossi, work out how to defeat it, then find the next one. Each one is unique and requires a certain pattern of moves to work out it’s weak spots, in a sense, every monster is like a puzzle. Except this puzzle can kill you, so you must stay on alert and try to observing it’s behaviour to find its weakness.

The area in which the game is set in is massive, like “Lord of the Rings” massive, from environments you explore, to the colossi you fight. And that’s where this game appeals to me, it’s epic. The game pushed the limits of the system and produced one the best looking games on that generation of consoles. Simply travelling through the lands on your horse is just breathtaking, specially how well the horse is animated. Not only that, but it has the best collection of orchestrated music to date. It’s perfect for the game.

If there was anything to criticise it, it’s the camera, there will be cases where you’ll be constantly adjusting your camera for a better view. Also the overall length. It would take around 6-8 hours to finish the game. Short for some, but I found the those short hours nothing but epic.

I couldn’t help but feel the impossibility of the tasks the character had to endure, but you want to succeed, you want to feel that satisfaction of defeating each colossi. It’s about you reaching that goal regardless the obstacles you have to face. It’s an epic experience, one that inspired me to make “The Colossus” as a project for uni. This game is without a doubt my favourite game on the PS2.

“Shadow of the colossus” links:

Super Metroid – 1994 (SNES)

You’re a female bounty hunter named Samus, who investigates a distress signal from a research space vessel. She finds the ship had been attacked by the space pirates leader, Ripley. And you learn he was after a powerful creature named Metroid. After a brief fight Ripley, he destroys the ship and takes the Metroid to a nearby planet called Zebes. Here you search through this unknown planet, to find out what the space pirates are planning.

This is Super Metroid, a sci-fi adventure game that remains one of my favourites.

The game is about isolation. You’re by yourself, with a handful of upgradable weapons and tools. It’s your job to uncover the secret about this creature and find out what the space pirates are doing. The planet has eerie atmosphere that makes you feel under powered and lost in this huge world. You feel tension every time you enter in a new room, questioning what could be behind that door. And to keep the suspense up it has a eerie transition after entering each room.

The structure of the game is about exploring, fighting large bosses, upgrading tools to accessing new areas. The game features a lot of back tracking which some might find annoying, but it does keep you occupied with the different paths and the re-spawning of enemies in previous rooms. Plus going to a previous room with a new upgrade can let you access new areas, these areas might contain more upgrades to further progress your character.

At it’s time, the 2D sprite graphics were one of the best, well animated and nicely detailed. It featured dozens of unique creatures, all well designed, some scarier then others and some larger….much larger. And appropriate sound effects to go with them all. Most of the game uses ambient sound instead of a music soundtrack to really emphasise on that isolation feeling.

Every discovery, whether it’s a new weapon or enemy, the game never loses it’s touch. Everything just screams scifi. I felt compelled to finish what I started, and I can guarantee you, its one satisfying conclusion.

“Super metroid” links:

Final Fantasy 7 – 1997 (PS)

In those early days, I didn’t have a real understanding on RPG games, they just didn’t appeal to me. Until, my Dad surprised me with a new game called FF7, having no knowledge about it, I drove straight into it. 20 hours later I didn’t plan to stop.

This game was big, spanning through 4 disc, at the time, I’ve never came across such a long game. The average play time is about 60-80 hours. Not that it’s a bad thing, but you do need to find those spare hours during the week to play it. Although the game is so absorbing you won’t care how long you play the game. I felt the length helps you connected with the main characters, that eventually, become emotionally attached to them.

This isn’t a simple fairytale, characters die, lots of them. A lot of the story topics are quite mature and complex, but it helps bring the characters to life, their intentions and decisions feel more authentic. The story is set in a future world where a corporation called Shinra is draining the worlds “life stream” for an energy resource. The main character, Cloud joins a eco-terrorist group who tries to sabotages these life stream reactors. Things eventually go wrong and a series of events lead him to meet eight other characters who decide to team up and uncover Shinra’s intentions. But only to come across Sephiroth, the main villain in the game, and his intentions are far worst.

So being new to RPG’s there was a steep learning curve, every element was so deep and sometimes confusing it took a while for me to get use to. Things like the inventory set-up, experience points, characters, the battle system, side quests, mini games and the story. But once I got the hang of things, the flow of the game was smoother and much more engaging. The battling system became less stressful, with the realisation of levelling your characters up to further process through the game. That being said, it takes time to level up your character, and that’s where most of the hours go.

The graphics were top quality too, specially when you’re in battle, all the characters were in full 3D with a great amount of detail. Outside the battle the characters take an abstract humanoid form companied with a 2d backdrops. Difference is noticeable but not distracting.

Overall, considering every element found in the game, and the whole package is incredible. Maybe the enormous amount of reading and RPG elements may turn off a few, but the great amount of animated cut-scense could make up for it. But overall, I’ve never had such an engaging experience that wanted me to keep on going and be more powerful, even after I’ve finished it.

“Final fantasy 7″ links:

Goldeneye 007 – 1997 (N64)

The game is based off the James Bond film called “Goldeneye”, released in 1995. It featured 18 mission (levels) from the movie, and another two missions from other Bond films. Each mission had three difficulties which not only made the enemies harder but introduced more objectives to complete. The beauty of the game is the freedom it gave the player, allowing us to decide how an objective was done, and in what order. Along with that freedom came a huge array of weaponry and special gadgets to complete each mission.

What made the game so approachable were the controls, this was the first real FPS console shooter that rivals the mouse and keyboard set-up. Because of the N64 controller, you could control Bond with such precision. Aiming had never been easier. It also introduced a zoom-able sniper scope which surprised a lot of people how well it worked. The learning curve wasn’t steep for most, but to really challenge yourself, you enter the multi-player mode.

Multi-player was simple, there are five different types of matches; once selected, you have a decent amount of options to change like the location, the hud display, characters, weapons, time and cheats. It gets to a point where it starts being very addictive, because its so competitive and fun! The variety of weapons available always keeps you guessing when your next death will come….unless you look on their part of the screen (it was split screen multi-player). And the levels were so well designed that it kept you altering your routine of killing. There’s nothing better then laughing at your friend for setting off a perfectly place mine.

Sadly, now days most FPS multi-player is done solo (in the physical sense), thanks to the internet, all your friends are at their own homes playing with you. The plus side you’ll have a complete screen for your self, but you wont have those great moments where you see your friends reaction after being killed. That’s what Goldeneye 007 was, perfect blend of style, controls and entertainment.

“Goldeneye 007″ link:

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – 1998 (N64)

The word “legend” becomes apparent once you dive deep enough through the game to realise how epic your adventure becomes.

You play Link, a human who is raised by elf-like people. Your adventure starts with a fairy named Navi who pairs up with you. During the first hour of the game you find out you’ve been chosen to save Hyule (the world) from Ganondorf (the villain) and restore peace to the lands. Ganondorf plans to acquire the Triforce in which grants the holder any wish he /she pleases. Almost half way through the adventure, Link time travels seven years into the future, old enough to face Ganaondorf.

So that’s my brief take on the story of the game, but doesn’t do the game justice. The game presents itself in such a majestic manner, that everything feels like real history… like something you should have learnt at school. The graphics were the peak of their console generation. Wonderfully detailed and modelled, you can’t help but feel drawn into this storyline and want to see what happens to the world around you.

Basically the game is played in third person perspective where it features a unique battle system called “Z” targeting where, once pressed on an enemy, the camera swoops to a fix position and Links movements and attacks become relative to the enemy in front of him. This was a ground breaking system which a lot games afterwards implemented. Of course if you weren’t close enough to use your sword, you could try a bow and arrow or even bombs.

Its not just about combat, had a little bit of everything in the mix; platforming, puzzle solving, collecting, exploration, racing and even fishing. There’s even a day and night cycle that affects everything in the world. Dungeons are the main obstacle in the game, because within each dungeon hides a item or power-up for Link. As well as a boss at the end of it, these bosses tend to be quite large and memorable.

It’s a long adventure, but it’s a masterfully crafted one. Today, this game usually amongst the highest rated video game ever. ( People already compare this as the Godfather of video games. This is how video games should be and hopefully we haven’t seen the last of it’s kind.

“Legend of zelda: ocarina of time” links:

Here are some great “all time” best lists:
GamesRadar: The 100 Best Games of all Time
IGN: Top 100 Games
Empireonline: The 50 Greatest Video Game Characters
..and Just for fun:
GamesRadar: The 50 Worst Games of all Time