Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Feature - My Christmas List

At this time of year I start writing my Christmas list for Satan (let's face facts, the only thing Santa would bring me is a turd from a dog who's suffering with a dose of bubble poo, wrapped in Frank Bough's mustard and brown y-fronts. Satan it is then.)

As everyone knows, the true meaning of Christmas is playing with your freshly acquired games for stupid amounts of time, while drinking and eating a bumper crop of festive goods. I got to thinking that if I could get 25 games for Christmas, what would they be? (Plus, this gives me an opportunity to write a sad list.) The games can be taken from any time period, on any console or gaming system. I'll try to get clips of all the games, but I doubt I'll be able to get some of the more obscure offerings. Anyway, let's take a break from films and have a look at some premium top-drawer gaming action.

25. Starmaster (1982 - Atari 2600) 
This gets in there because it's the first game I ever owned. When you died, it played the death march. Which is cool.

24. Rebel Planet (1986 - C64)
Top quality text adventure. Listened to the Redskins' 'Neither Washington Nor Moscow' while playing this.

23. Quedex (1987 - C64)
Ten sad little ball rolling challenges that kept me playing for ages. 

(Skip to 3:20 for gaming action, or for retro thrills, sit through the loading screen)

22. Winter Games (1986 - C64)
Quality ice skating action in this one, that led to the Father of evlkeith having his last name changed to Dean due to some of his tricky manoeuvres.

21. Creatures 2 (1990 - C64)
Possibly the pinnacle of C64 graphics. To increase the number of colours onscreen, they rapidly switched the sprites between two colours to blend them together and create a new shade. Crafty. I bet Infinity Ward don't have to do that.

20. Spy vs Spy 2 (1985 - C64)
It was top fun, to set a trap and then watch your chum walk straight into it. Much cackling was brought forth.

19. Typhoon (aka A-JAX) (1987 - Arcade)
Many coins were pumped into this in the arcade. I love shooters, both of the vertical and horizontal types, but this one was even better because you also went vertically downwards towards an aircraft carrier. Destroying it gave you a lovely explosion and sent you rocketing upwards into the stratosphere. A great gaming moment.

18. Ridge Racer Revolution (1995 - PS1)
This game perfectly hit the feeling of being right on the edge of control. One slight nudge in the wrong direction and you drifted into oblivion. Adrenaline rush ahoy.

17. Braid (2008 - Xbox 360)
This puzzler severely played with the time control mechanic from 'Prince of Persia: Sands of Time'. Days were spent mulling over a particularly tricky problem. The solution normally hit me when I wasn't even thinking about it and they always seemed really obvious. The mark of a great puzzle game.

16. Gradius V (2004 - PS2)
A side-scrolling shooter developed by Treasure. Enough said.

15. Final Fantasy VII (1997 - PS1)
I must have spent well over sixty hours playing through this. Twice. Not been that impressed with the Final Fantasy games since though.

14. Limbo (2010 - Xbox 360)
Another great puzzler, but this time in black and white. Plus it's got a completely creepy spider attack. Short and the last third is not quite as visually arresting, but a great game nonetheless.

13. Uridium (1986 - C64)
How great was it to turn your ship on its side to slip through tiny gaps whilst shooting at stuff (simultaneously messing yourself)? Pretty darn great.

12. Alien Breed (1991 - Amiga)
The best Aliens game (unofficially of course)? Certainly a homage, but when you're legging it from aliens, the screen flashing red and a lady issuing warnings you couldn't care less. The sequels were great too (except Alien Breed 3D maybe).

11. Beast Busters (1989 - Arcade)
This has the honour of being the only arcade game I've completed on one credit. That says less about my skill and more about the amount of time I spent in the bar where it was situated.

10. Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 (2008 - Xbox 360)
Perfect zone game. You don't quite know how you're avoiding the enemies, but somehow you brain is hardwired into the controller and you dance around them. Great stuff. I'll just have one more go. Just one more...

9. Half-Life 2 (including subsequent episodes) (2004 - Xbox 360)
The only FPS in my list, but what a cracking game. Bit of a shocker to actually find characters who you care about in a game.

8. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (2004 - Gamecube)
I loved how this game was broken down into different chapters, each offering a different style of gameplay.

7. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998 - N64)
Got. To. Collect. Everything. (I still find myself whistling the ocarina tunes at times.)

6. Super Monkey Ball (2001 - Gamecube)
I can't remember which level it was but there was one massive difficulty spike that took me days to get past. Quality buzz when I nailed it though.

5. Bayonetta (2009 - Xbox 360)
A naked lady with a hair costume (?), guns connected to her hands and feet and a knack of lamping angelic bad guys: what could be better? Takes a lot of patience to master, but when you do, you appreciate how great this game really is. Bonkers. But great.

4. Rez (2002 - PS2)
Basically 'Space Harrier', but you can change the soundscape by shooting stuff. Turn it up loud to fully appreciate. 

3. Frequency (2001 - PS2)
An abstract music game, and yet it feels far closer to actually playing music than 'Guitar Hero'. Another zone game.

2. Shadow of the Colossus (2005 - PS2)
The only game to make you feel really really bad about killing the enemies. It had some similarities to 'Ico' but was so much more than your average sequel.

1. Ico (2001 - PS2)
Easily my favourite game ever. So atmospheric and you get a character that you really care about in Yorda. The music is stunning and who would have thought that one of the best gaming moments is running along an empty beach for two minutes. (You'd have to play it to know what I mean.) A perfect game.

So there you have it. There's bound to be some games that you can't believe I've missed out and some games in the list that you hate, but with such choice available, everyone can be happy. My Christmas list will actually involve numbers 1 and 2 because I'm going to get a PS3 just to play them in sparkly HD. (Plus there's the small matter of 'The Last Guardian' on the horizon.)

Normal film review service will now resume.

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