Developer: Konami, 1992
Genre: Side-Scrolling Beat-Em-Up
If you’re a regular here on this blog, then you know I’m a big fan of the side-scrolling beat-em-up what with my posts about Streets of Rage and Final Fight. But, the game that really kicked that genre up a notch for me was Konami‘s gem featuring my favorite superheroes, the X-Men. This particular game is based on a pilot for a cartoon series that never got picked up. However, it holds a special place in the hearts of many arcade-goers. It was the only beat-em-up that featured a whopping 6 different playable characters, two of them being female, something that really broke a barrier at the time. It had huge, colorful sprites that could only be contained on 2 screens, mind-blowing animation, and awesome sound (how could anyone forget, “I am Magneto, master of magnet!?” haha.) And hey, its still the only game in history where you can play as Dazzler, everyone’s favorite mutant disco queen!
9) Mega Man 3
Developer: Capcom, 1990
Genre: Side-Scrolling Platformer
There were quite a few side-scrolling platformers that could have easily filled this spot for me. Among them, any of the early Marios or Sonics. What makes a side-scroller for me are the power-ups and no one has more power-ups than that little blue bomber, Mega Man. He could do ANYTHING! Also, the graphics were just so cute! I remember thinking that this was as close to actual TV animation as you could get! LOL! Mega Man 3 is the best in the series because that’s when the story first began to thicken with the introduction of the mysterious ProtoMan. Also, this game had frikkin’ SCHWEET music!
8) Tiny Toon Adventures: Acme All-Stars
Developer: Konami, 1994
Other than kinda liking the Knicks in the 90’s, I’m not a huge sports fan. So naturally, I’ve never really liked sports games. Tiny Toon Adventures: Acme All-Stars is the one exception. I was a huge Tiny Toons fan and had all the Tiny Toons games even though they were all pretty horrible. This one broke the mold with its awesome multiplayer function (up to 6, relatively unheard of at the time,) and playable character roster of 12 different toons. In basketball, Montana Max‘s method of stealing the ball was to walk up to you and just punch. You have not seen comedy until you’ve seen the Montana Max sprite walk up to Elmyra and punch her in the face.
7) MarioKart DS
Developer: Nintendo, 2005
Nintendo has recently really upped the ante when it comes to innovation in console design. Yeah, I have the Wii, but I think their real marvel is the DS. It is by far the best handheld system EVER– and it’s best and most popular title? MarioKart, of course. It’s pretty much a given that MarioKart games are fun on ANY system. The DS version shines because of its ease of multiplayer: up to 8 players, totally wireless, ANYWHERE you want! It’s really caught on here in NYC, as I’ve had insane 8 player matches with complete strangers on more than one occasion. I do take it very personally, however, when some asshole picks Toad. Don’t people realize he is MINE?!
6) Columns III
Developer: Sega, 1994
I know what you’re thinking. “You’ve seen one puzzle game, you’ve seen them all.” I wholeheartedly agree with that statement, but what set Columns III apart from all the rest for me was its 2-player head-to-head play. Talk about COMPETITIVE! Some of the things you could do to your opponent were downright EVIL! How ’bout turning your opponent’s side to GRAYSCALE for a while? Or see how they’ll do when you turn their side UPSIDE-DOWN! Man, me and my mom had some intense marathon Columns tournaments that would often last into the wee hours of the morning. “C’mon, JC, one more game and I’ll let you stay home from school tomorrow,” she’d say.
5) X-Men Legends
Developer: Raven Software / Activision, 2004
Genre: Action RPG
System: PS2, Xbox, GameCube
No one hates RPGs as vehemently as me. To quote Beavis and Butt-Head, “If I wanted to read, I’d go to school.” HAHA. I’m sorry, but I grew up with the notion that video games were supposed to action-packed and fast-paced… not PAGES and PAGES of heavy reading! Now, I know nowadays, RPG’s have much more hands-on action, with a lot more realtime gameplay. But my overall disdain for the genre almost made me not try X-Men Legends. In truth, the game is more of a hybrid adventure platformer with beat-em-up and RPG elements. Like most RPGs, the story is very “epic.” Unlike most RPGs, the story managed to hold my attention (again, I’m sorry, but I couldn’t care less about the triumphs and struggles of some whiney queer-ass little elves.) Any X-Men fan should own this title simply because of the huge playable character roster (15) and familiar story elements (which are pretty close to the comics.) Of course, there are areas where it could improve (sadly, issues that aren’t addressed in its sequels) but overall it’s a solid title and a must for any X-Fan.
4) Ms. Pac-Man
Developer: Midway /Namco, 1981
Genre: Puzzle / Maze
System: Arcade (and a lot of others)
This is an example of a game that is absolutely timeless. Whether you play it in the arcade (my preference) or on any of the consoles its been released on (pretty much all of them,) you can’t deny the overall replayability of Ms. Pac-Man. Infinitely superior to its predecessor AND its sequels, its simple yet subtly deep gameplay mechanics make it one of those few games that appeals to everyone– old, young, male, female. Its also the one arcade cabinet that I cannot resist no matter where it is… a bar, laundromat, gas station… I have to play it when I see it! Its probably the one arcade cabinet I would actually buy… if I had a house.
3) Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers
Developer: Capcom, 1990
Genre: Side-Scrolling Platformer
Frequently, in the realm of classic video gaming, titles based on other media (cartoons, film) usually had little or nothing to do with the source material. Chip ‘n Dale is no exception. I mean, it’s a valiant effort, but none of the main gameplay elements are ever featured in the cartoon. However, that’s not to say these gameplay elements are bad– quite the contrary actually! Chip and Dale hurl tiny wooden boxes at foes and stack metal ones to get to otherwise unreachable areas. It might sound lame– but don’t knock it till you’ve played it! The biggest plus this game has going for it is its 2-player SIMULTANEOUS action! Do you know how RARE that is in a cutesy platformer? Think of how ridiculously fun any of the early Marios, Sonics, or MegaMans would be if they were 2-player simultaneous! Hopefully, the gaming companies will realize that multiplayer games are still viable and stop catering to the socially-awkward loser who sits at home playing video games by himself all day. (God, I’m a mean bastard, aren’t I? haha.)
2) Street Fighter 2
Developer: Capcom, 1991
System: Um… all of them?
Yea, big surprise here, right? Haha. But I have to give credit where it’s due. Being the VERY FIRST real fighting game, Street Fighter 2 pretty much REVOLUTIONIZED the gaming industry. The huge sprites, the fluid animation, the fast-paced yet intricate gameplay, were all mind-blowing at the time. Who would have thought that such a simple idea (2 guys fighting each other) would evolve into such a deep, limitless genre?
I am pretty savvy when it comes to games. So when X-Men vs. Street Fighter came out without me knowing anything about it, I was literally floored. (Literally– I think I fainted in the arcade.) Please understand that X-Men and Street Fighter were my two great loves so finding out about a game like this was like… having a hard cock in your mouth and your ass at the same time! Truth be told, I was already pretty used to the mechanics of the game, having played Capcom‘s other fighting titles. Nothing was really new about the gameplay accept for the ability to switch between multiple characters mid-match. For me, what was so crazy about the game was the sheer… absurdity of it! No one expected the crossover. Now, its totally commonplace for fictional universes to crossover in games– but back then… UNPRECEDENTED!
So how do you guys like my list? Any games you love that you’d like to mention? Tell me! If they’re from the 90’s, I most likely know them and probably like them because that was before 3D and 1st Person Shooters which have ruined the industry as far as I’m concerned. haha.