Best Game Ever: Chrono Trigger

Note: Best Game Ever is a series of posts I’ll be doing dedicated to the best games ever made. Each game I profile will be a game I’d accept as someone’s answer to the question, “what do you think the best game ever is?” So please, do not email me and tell me I’m stupid for posting about game X when game Y is clearly superior. And you never know, game Y might be the next game profiled. For more in the series, check out the “best game ever” category in the side bar.

Chrono Trigger. Back in the heyday of the 16-bit era, RPGs were one of the most popular genres and Japan was producing nearly all of the top titles. Square was one of the top companies during the era, producing the illustrious Final Fantasy series and other popular RPGs. Among those big hits was the fan favorite, Chrono Trigger, originally released for the Super Nintendo.

Chrono Trigger stood out for several reasons. First, the story was very engaging and the storyline could be altered depending on how you played the game. There were several possible endings to see, and some items could only be collected at the sacrifice of missing out on others. It was a fantastic game to discuss with friends to find out how your ending or order of events played out.

Another big reason that Chrono Trigger was so popular was due to its fantastic battle system. The game didn’t have random encounters, so you could skip fights if you wanted, but once you got into fights, they were tons of fun. Chrono Trigger allowed you to combine character attacks, and those attacks varied based on what characters you were combining. Most of the rest of the battle system was pretty standard, but each character was quite unique and it allowed for lots of experimentation and fun. As far as the standard JRPGs go, Chrono Trigger is still a game that provides an enjoyable battle system under the modern lens.

Finally, the other big memorable aspect of Chrono Trigger is its music. From its joyous victory fanfare to its moody and slower tracks, just about any old-school RPG fan can recall multiple musical selections from the game easily.

Luckily, Chrono Trigger is available widely these days. There are re-releases for the DS, the Virtual Console, PSN, and some older consoles. The game holds up very well, and it’s a game I seem to go back to at least once a year for a revisit. There was a sequel released for the PSOne, called Chrono Cross, but it didn’t quite have the same magic as its predecessor despite being a very good game in its own regard.

For these reasons and more not stated, Chrono Trigger is the best game ever.

Best Game Ever: Star Wars: TIE Fighter

Note: Best Game Ever is a series of posts I’ll be doing dedicated to the best games ever made. Each game I profile will be a game I’d accept as someone’s answer to the question, “what do you think the best game ever is?” So please, do not email me and tell me I’m stupid for posting about game X when game Y is clearly superior. And you never know, game Y might be the next game profiled. For more in the series, check out the “best game ever” category in the side bar.

The Force is strong with this one.

There used to be a time when having a PC for games meant that you played with more than just a mouse/keyboard or joystick. Back in the ’90s, it was almost a necessity to own some sort of flight stick. While it didn’t require a flight stick, Star Wars: TIE Fighter was easily the best reason to own one. I personally had the Flightstick Pro, and I probably logged enough hours on TIE Fighter to become a certified pilot.

Released in the summer of 1994, Star Wars: TIE Fighter was the much anticipated sequel to Star Wars: X-Wing. Bringing to the table a better flight engine, improved graphics, and better effects, TIE Fighter provided the ultimate flight combat experience in its time. The missions were laid out with both primary and secondary objectives, the story was interesting, and the game really forced you to use strategy and well timed attack runs in order to be successful.

Star Wars: TIE Fighter and its expansion Defender of the Empire are easily one of the best PC gaming experiences ever created. For all the Star Wars games that have been released, none have done so great of a job of bringing such a strong sense of immersion. If you’ve never played TIE Fighter and you can drum up the means to do so, definitely get right on it ASAP. Also make sure to check out Star Wars: X-Wing (and its expansions) and X-Wing vs TIE Fighter as well.

For these reasons and more not stated, Star Wars: TIE Fighter is the best game ever.

Best Game Ever: Streets of Rage 2

Note: Best Game Ever is a series of posts I’ll be doing dedicated to the best games ever made. Each game I profile will be a game I’d accept as someone’s answer to the question, “what do you think the best game ever is?” So please, do not email me and tell me I’m stupid for posting about game X when game Y is clearly superior. And you never know, game Y might be the next game profiled. For more in the series, check out the “best game ever” category in the side bar.

Streets of Rage 2.

Released for the Sega Genesis back in 1992, Streets of Rage 2 was the follow up to the popular Streets of Rage. Very much a product of the early 1990s when beat ‘em ups were a dime a dozen, Streets of Rage 2 still managed to stand out in an insanely crowded genre.  Like many brawlers of the era, Streets of Rage 2 suffered from generic names (Mr. X, Max Thunder, etc.), repetitive enemy types, and a world right out of the beat ‘em up template set; but these couldn’t drag down the addictive and enjoyable gameplay offered. In a big improvement over the original Streets of Rage, each character in the sequel had their own unique set of moves and special attacks. The different play styles offered by each character lends to repeat plays through the game, especially in multiplayer.

The music in Streets of Rage 2 was also quite good for the beat ‘em up genre. Rather than simple loops, we were treated with varied and fancy beats. One of the first things always mentioned when Streets of Rage 2 is brought up is that the soundtrack was one of the best on the Genesis. Obviously, I would agree.

If you were ever a fan of the beat ‘em up genre, and you want something more than Final Fight or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Streets of Rage 2 is a great way to get your fix.

For these reasons, Streets of Rage 2 is the Best. Game. Ever.

The Best Game Ever: F-Zero GX

Note: Best Game Ever is a series of posts I’ll be doing dedicated to the best games ever made. Each game I profile will be a game I’d accept as someone’s answer to the question, “what do you think the best game ever is?” So please, do not email me and tell me I’m stupid for posting about game X when game Y is clearly superior. And you never know, game Y might be the next game profiled. For more in the series, check out the “best game ever” category in the side bar.

F-Zero GX. Fast. Brutal. Amazing.

F-Zero GX released for the GameCube back in 2003 and brought a sense of speed that the GameCube had never seen before and that it would never see again. Developed by Amusement Vision (Sega), F-Zero GX is absolutely everything the series has always tried to be since it made its debut on the Super Nintendo. The tracks are well designed, the sense of speed is unmatched, the AI is ultra competitive, the graphics and sound are top notch, and the controls are tight and responsive. In my honest opinion, I don’t think there’s a better futuristic racer available anywhere.

So what made F-Zero GX so good? Was it just a case of the GameCube starving for a good racing experience? Before writing up this post I went back and put a couple of hours into the game to make sure I wasn’t viewing it through nostalgia goggles. After being humbled quite heavily by the computer for the first 20 minutes or so, I got my touch back and I started doing well and before I knew it I had invested the majority of my evening into the game.  In fact, it confirmed my opinion that the title is still tops in its genre; bettering even more recent titles such as WipEout HD.

The game sold well enough to be profitable, but it was in no way a big hit. Miyamoto went as far as to call the performance disappointing, but those that game the game a chance were quite happy with overall experience. In the end, Sega and Nintendo gave gamers a present that is definitely worth revisiting from time to time. I don’t know of any plans, but it would be fantastic to see this franchise get some sort of revitalization. To me, the 3DS is a no-brainer for an F-Zero game, but I’ll take it wherever I can get it at this point.

If you’ve never played F-Zero GX, you can pick it up used for under $10 online with shipping included, so there’s no excuse to not give the game a try. Be warned, however, the game is brutally difficult on harder difficulties and will take some commitment to mastery. Don’t blame me for any broken Wavebirds…

For these reasons, F-Zero GX is the Best. Game. Ever.

The Best Game Ever: River City Ransom

Note: Best Game Ever is a series of posts I’ll be doing dedicated to the best games ever made. Each game I profile will be a game I’d accept as someone’s answer to the question, “what do you think the best game ever is?” So please, do not email me and tell me I’m stupid for posting about game X when game Y is clearly superior. And you never know, game Y might be the next game profiled. For more in the series, check out the “best game ever” category in the side bar.

River City Ransom.

The NES saw many beat ‘em up titles, but in my opinion not one of them was better than River City Ransom. Yes, I’m quite comfortable saying that RCR (as it’s known by it’s hip fans) is better than Double Dragon, the Ninja Turtles titles, and anything else released for Nintendo’s first home console. River City Ransom is quite unique, and incorporated features that wouldn’t become standards for years later. The game featured RPG elements, the ability to backtrack, upgrades to individual moves and character attributes, and the ability to continue playing through areas that have been previously completed.

Aside from the cool blend of RPG and beat ‘em up elements, River City Ransom also offered some pretty quirky and funny dialog. Upon defeating enemies they’ll often yell out, “barf!” before dropping money for you to spend on upgrades to your attack, defense, or health attributes. Somehow this never, ever gets old.

River City Ransom really is hard to describe, but it’s easily found in a variety of formats, including Nintendo’s Virtual Console service on the Wii. If you like beat ‘em games or if you’re just looking for a good co-op experience, River City Ransom is an easy pick. For these reasons, River City Ransom is the best game ever.

The Best Game Ever: ActRaiser

Note: Best Game Ever is a series of posts I’ll be doing dedicated to the best games ever made. Each game I profile will be a game I’d accept as someone’s answer to the question, “what do you think the best game ever is?” So please, do not email me and tell me I’m stupid for posting about game X when game Y is clearly superior. And you never know, game Y might be the next game profiled. For more in the series, check out the “best game ever” category in the side bar.

ActRaiser.

Released in 1991 in the United States, ActRaiser was one of those games that if you happened to stumble upon it became an instant favorite. Developed by Quintet and published by Enix, ActRaiser is part simulation and part action game. The odd combination of genres really make the game something unique, and it’s a shame that the series was left by the wayside as time has gone on.

About 75% of the game is played out in a Sim City type of experience where you’re building towns and eliminating dangers for your citizens. It’s a very simplified take on the city building mechanics, but there’s something really addictive about it all the same. Your goal is to have your villagers not only build their city, but to also explore the surrounding areas and bring back items that can help you in the more action-oriented segments.

The action portion of the game is fairly intense, even if it was made easier than the Japanese version. The game has huge bosses, some tricky platforming (partly due to sketchy jump controls), and a good variety of enemies. These portions are mostly to bridge the gap between major developments in the city building stages, so not much in the way of narrative happens here. At the end of the game, the final action sequence has you facing off against every boss in the game one after another, making for an intense marathon.

One of the most memorable aspects of the game had to be the music. Before ActRaiser, no other game had brought such intense and rich music to the table. It really was amazing. The game ended up winning the award for best music in a game that year in Electronic Gaming Monthly and many still cite it as one of the best game soundtracks ever made.

This is one of those games that you simply need to experience to understand as it’s still something that would be considered unique, even by today’s standards. The game is available on Nintedo’s Virtual Console service, and it’s still fairly easy to find in used game shops or online.

Here’s hoping that one day Square Enix will decide to give the series a proper continuation.

The Best Game Ever: DuckTales

Note: Best Game Ever is a series of posts I’ll be doing dedicated to the best games ever made. Each game I profile will be a game I’d accept as someone’s answer to the question, “what do you think the best game ever is?” So please, do not email me and tell me I’m stupid for posting about game X when game Y is clearly superior. And you never know, game Y might be the next game profiled. For more in the series, check out the “best game ever” category in the side bar.

DuckTales.

Developed for the NES by Capcom and released in North America in 1990, DuckTales was one of several great Disney licensed titles to come out during the 8-bit era, and it is usually one of the first games brought up when discussing the great platformer games on the NES. It was quite popular in its time, and despite some quirks in the gameplay, it has help up wonderfully over the years.

You play as Scrooge McDuck as you work your way through five levels, of which you can play in any order and even revisit once you’ve finished them. There are hidden treasures in nearly every inch of each level, including two hidden special treasures that can unlock an alternate ending. The gameplay is fairly straightforward as Scrooge’s attacks are limited to swinging his cane or using it as a pogo stick to jump on enemies. There are tons of hidden areas in the game as well, so exploration is just as important as combat.

The game itself isn’t terribly challenging, but it’s addictive and memorable. Anybody who played it remembers the sound of Scrooge’s pogo cane, at least one of the hidden passages they found, and how they used Scrooge’s golf-style swing to send a rock flying to knock down a treasure chest. The game can be completed in around 45 minutes or so, but it’s worth playing through multiple times. I probably play through it at least twice per year.

It’s unlikely that this will ever see a Virtual Console release, so you’re left hunting down the original cartridge if you want to play it legally. But honestly, few games are worth it like DuckTales is. At last look, it was only $3-$5 on eBay, so that makes it a great bargain for retro gaming fans. It’s definitely one of the best games ever.

The Best Game Ever: Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge

Note: Best Game Ever is a series of posts I’ll be doing dedicated to the best games ever made. Each game I profile will be a game I’d accept as someone’s answer to the question, “what do you think the best game ever is?” So please, do not email me and tell me I’m stupid for posting about game X when game Y is clearly superior. And you never know, game Y might be the next game profiled. For more in the series, check out the “best game ever” category in the side bar.

Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge

Developed for the Xbox by FASA Interactive, Crimson Skies was one of the absolute gems of the Xbox library. There were a few air combat games released during that console cycle, but nothing came close to providing the crazy action, tight controls, and fun storyline elements that combined to make Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge tops in its genre.

The game takes place in an alternate history setting. It’s the 1930s and the sky is dominated by airplanes, zeppelins, and rival groups of sky pirates, smugglers, and all other sorts of fortune hunters on both sides of the law. You play as a somewhat scoundrel sort of hero (think Han Solo stuck in the early 20th century) and its not long before your somewhat innocent hijinx get you caught up into much larger plots and schemes. I won’t dwell on the story, but it is quite fun.

The game also supported Xbox Live, and multiplayer was extremely addictive. With several different types of planes to choose from, strategy played a bit part in how you dealt with enemies online. The maps were excellent, and finding a match was a piece of cake.

The game is pretty easy to find on disc if you decide to go hunting for it (and you should), but it’s also available on the Xbox Originals store on the Xbox Live Marketplace. I would suggest picking it up on disc, however, as it’s going to cost you $5 or less these days. This would be the perfect title to hold you over if you’re waiting for the next big release to hit and want something to keep you busy.

Below is the original trailer for the game. Give us a sequel, Microsoft!

Best Game Ever: Star Control II

Star Control II.
Originally on the PC but also ported to the 3DO with enhanced sound and added speech, this game was easily the best open world game of its time. It’s really rare, even today, to find a game that offers the same level of freedom, non-linear progression, and sense of scale. Here’s the lowdown.
Game is set way in the future after a big galactic war in which the Earth and its alliance lost. Earth is trapped under a slave shield and a race called the Ur-Quan rules the galaxy along with anybody else that chose to join up with them and avoid being annihilated or enslaved.
You’re a descendant from science team that left earth way in the past that had colonized a new planet where you’ve found alien tech. You go out to find out what happened with earth. After finding out that the alliance basically got curb stomped you decide to take it upon yourself to fly around the galaxy recruiting races to start the fight back up again against the Ur-Quan. Depending on the alliances you make the game changes and the storyline can get altered quite a bit.
Game is split into three main styles of gameplay. First there’s exploration where you’re looking for resources (money), new races to ally with, and alien technology to augment your ship. Secondly there’s the political aspect where you need to convince races to join your fight and keep them at peace with one another. Finally, there’s combat that plays out as a 2D top down battle. It’s all great stuff.
Here’s the intro video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4GB3FeqQVk
[youtube]J4GB3FeqQVk[/youtube]
Here’s a battle sequence:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRg6MfG7UUY
[youtube]cRg6MfG7UUY[/youtube]
A conversation with the Spathi, a coward race that you still want to recruit as allies because they make awesome starships.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afuWQonf4D8
[youtube]afuWQonf4D8[/youtube]
You can get the game for free here: http://sc2.sourceforge.net/downloads.php
Versions of the game are available on Windows, OS X, Linux, and a few other devices (including PSP).
I know it’s a busy time for gaming, but honestly, I doubt any game coming out in the next few months will be as good.

Note: Best Game Ever is a series of posts I’ll be doing dedicated to the best games ever made. Each game I profile will be a game I’d accept as someone’s answer to the question, “what do you think the best game ever is?” So please, do not email me and tell me I’m stupid for posting about game X when game Y is clearly superior. And you never know, game Y might be the next game profiled. For more in the series, check out the “best game ever” category in the side bar.

Star Control II.

Originally on the PC but also ported to the 3DO with enhanced sound and added speech, this game was easily the best open world game of its time. You can now download it FOR FREE (link at the bottom of the post) as it’s been made open source. It’s really rare, even today, to find a game that offers the same level of freedom, non-linear progression, and sense of scale. Here’s the lowdown.

Game is set way in the future after a big galactic war in which the Earth and its alliance lost. Earth is trapped under a slave shield and a race called the Ur-Quan rules the galaxy along with anybody else that chose to join up with them and avoid being annihilated or enslaved.

You’re a descendant from science team that left earth way in the past that had colonized a new planet where you’ve found alien tech. You go out to find out what happened with earth. After finding out that the alliance basically got curb stomped you decide to take it upon yourself to fly around the galaxy recruiting races to start the fight back up again against the Ur-Quan. Depending on the alliances you make the game changes and the storyline can get altered quite a bit.

The game is split into three main styles of gameplay. First there’s exploration where you’re looking for resources (money), new races to ally with, and alien technology to augment your ship. Secondly there’s the political aspect where you need to convince races to join your fight and keep them at peace with one another. Finally, there’s combat that plays out as a 2D top down battle. It’s all great stuff.

Here’s the intro video:

Here’s a battle sequence:

A conversation with the Spathi, a coward race that you still want to recruit as allies because they make awesome starships.

You can get the game for free here: http://sc2.sourceforge.net/downloads.php

Versions of the game are available on Windows, OS X, Linux, and a few other devices (including PSP).

I know it’s a busy time for gaming, but honestly, I doubt any game coming out in the next few months will be as good.