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Rainiac’s Top 20 Games of All Time July 15, 2009

Posted by Rainiac in game reviews, gaming blogs, rants.

I recently read FI’s list of his top 20 games of all time, and put simply, it got me thinking. And since he invited his fellow non-Losers to follow his example, I figured I’d be the first to take him up on that offer and post my own top 20 list. As with Frezno’s, this list is in no real order of preference, and also like Frezno’s, I’ll only be listing one game per franchise. I confess that I haven’t played as many video games as I perhaps should have, and if you add to that the fact that the last console I bought was a Nintendo GameCube, you can probably figure out for yourself that I’m not going to list many more recent titles. I must point out that this is just my personal opinion and there were other titles that narrowly didn’t make the cut, so if for some reason you have a problem with my list feel free to air that grievance in the comments. Just keep things civil, that’s all I ask. And now, without further ado, click the link below and let’s get ready to rumble…

20. Jurassic Park: Rampage Edition

We start off with one of my more obscure picks. Jurassic Park Rampage Edition is a Genesis port of an arcade title of the same name, and a sequel to the original Jurassic Park title also found on this console. Now those of you who know of this diamond in the rough may well be wondering why it’s on this list. After all, it’s pretty damn short, 7 levels of all. But that’s of little concern, because Rampage Edition is, from being to end, an out and out gun-fest. Instead of the clever survival tactics you need to employ in the original game, Rampage Edition’s code is one of violence, extreme violence. Dr Grant can use such weapons as tesla guns, automatic rifles and even a flamethrower to massacre all manner of dinosaurs as well as human enemies tossed in for added variety. Oh, and did I mention you can also play as a Raptor? If you’ve had a bad day, pop this bad boy in when you get home, select the raptor, and wreak merry havoc. You’ll feel much better, trust me

19. Soul Calibur II (Gamecube version)

The first of 3 fighting games on my list, and the first 3D fighting game I ever owned. The fighting mechanics are superb and the graphics are damn good considering when it was released, but the major talking point of this game is the roster of characters. Not only are most of the characters well balanced and different enough from each other, this game also included something which I believe may be a fighting game first: exclusive guest characters. Don’t get me wrong, SNK had been including extra fighters on home ports of their fighting games before SC2 was even out of diapers, but this game took it to a new level. Soul Calibur 2 came out for the PS2, Gamecube and Xbox simultaneously, and each version allowed you to play as a special guest from another franchise. PS2 got Heihachi from Tekken, Xbox got Spawn and perhaps best of all, the Gamecube version allowed you to play as Link, and amazingly, he remained balanced despite having access to bombs, a Boomerang and his trusty Bow and Arrow. Sadly this balance was offset by another console-exclusive character, the hulking beast Necrid, who was designed by Spawn creator Todd McFarlane and is still considered to be one of the cheapest non-boss characters in the Soul Calibur franchise. Oh well, you can’t have it all I suppose…

18. Worms Armageddon

The Worms franchise is well-known for providing multiplayer chaos, and this incarnation is no exception. Armageddon also had an excellent single-player mode, with a total of 33 solo missions, with the added incentive of bonus features which become unlocked after doing particular well on said missions. The vast array of weaponry you can use to blow away your opponents range from deadly to the downright ridiculous, but no less deadly. My personal favourite was probably the Holy Hand Grenade, for the massive blast radius and the amusing ‘Hallelujah!’ sound effect that plays just before it detonates, but that’s just one of many ways to kill off your competition. Thanks to the sheer amount of weapons at your disposal, clever strategy is required to win the game at higher levels. You can also fully customise your team of 8 worms, from their individual names to the team’s name to their specialist weapon of choice. All in all, a great strategy game which is easy to pick up, but damn near impossible to put down, especially after you go online for the very first time…

17. Pokémon Gold & Silver

You should have probably guessed there was going to be a Pokémon title within this list, but you might be surprised by my pick. There is sound logic behind it though. While I have played later instalments of the franchise, I am yet to play any of them post-G/S through to its conclusion. On top of that, I feel that Nintendo’s designs for new Pokémon have kinda worsened over the years, especially some of the new ‘legendaries’ (take a bow the Regis). This, coupled with the fact that Diamond and Pearl had about 12 legendaries to get in total and it’s not surprising that I’ve kind of soured on the franchise. However, Gold and Silver just feel right. They managed to combine all that made the original titles so groundbreaking while adding cool new features like Pokémon Breeding, Day & Night and weather effects that can really add to the game. The fact that you could travel to Kanto later in the game was an added bonus, and getting to have a rematch with the gym leaders from Red & Blue felt great, even if by that point in the game they posed little challenge to you if you’d raised your team correctly. I used to spend countless hours training up my team and battling and trading with friends, and I was even fortunate enough to have a genuine Mew on my cart (I obtained it at a Nintendo Official Magazine event in Manchester, then ported the little guy over), though sadly Celebi escaped my grasp. The DS remakes are going to kick so much ass…

16. Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (SNES)

I’ll freely admit it, this one is more on the list for sentimental value than because the game is amazing, although in all fairness it’s not half bad. I was a huge Power Rangers fan back in the mid 90s, and I mean a HUGE fan. I owned all the action figures and would watch the show religiously, at least up until the end of the fourth season, and then I kind of grew out of it. So when I saw this game for sale, I knew I had to get it, and I wasn’t disappointed. You get to play as all 5 rangers (the Green Ranger hadn’t been around long enough when this was released), and each of them plays slightly differently. The game plays like a traditional side-scrolling beat-em-up, with a little bit of platforming thrown in for good measure. The main opposition are the Putty Patrol of course, in a variety of different colours, but you must also fend off other obstacles like laser beams, robots and rolling barrels. The first 5 stages each end with a boss battle against one of the monsters from the show, but because this game was released so early into the show’s life only a die-hard PR fan would be able to name them all (except maybe Eye Guy, that dude was pretty well known). Having battled through 5 stages, the game then completely changes tact and puts you in the cockpit of the Megazord for the last 2 battles, which are tightly controlled and a nice change of pace from before. The hidden multiplayer mode seems like a bit of an afterthought in all honesty (it’s just a 2 player version of the final battles, really), but that doesn’t change the fact that this game realised one of my early boyhood dreams…

15. Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers

When I reached my mid-teens, I went through a bit of a fighting game phase, where I made it my mission to try out as many different arcade fighters as I possibly could. After a lot of searching, I found perhaps the pick of the bunch, an ‘expansion’ to the all-time classic Street Fighter 2 (which is the game that started this search in the first place). In this case, the ‘expansion’ consisted of 4 new characters, Cammy, Fei Long, Dee Jay and T. Hawk, bringing the number of characters up to a nice round 16 (not counting the cheesefest of an extra boss that is Akuma, as he was only in the Turbo edition). The new characters added more strategy to the game, but other than that and a few nice new locations to fight in, the core gameplay remained pretty much the same, and that’s what makes it so damn good to play. This game may also be the reason why tourneyfags exist, but that’s another topic for another time. And if anyone mistakes that last sentence as a challenge to tournament players, please don’t. I may not be terrible at this game, but I simply haven’t got the dedication to become as good as them. If any non-tourney player wants to challenge me, on the other hand, let me know and maybe we can work something out…

14. F-Zero X

There are racing games, and then there are racing games. F-Zero belongs in the latter category, the category where the vehicles move so fast your eyeballs will be shitting bricks and begging for mercy after just 5 minutes of gameplay. Yes, it’s that damn fast. You also get a lot of content for your money, with 5 cups in total, 24 pre-made tracks and a grand total of 30 cars, though only 6 of those are available to use at the start of the game and you have to win cups to use the other 24. The best part of this game, however, is that it potentially can never come to an end thanks to the ingenious inclusion that is the X Cup, which randomly generates six tracks every time you play it, so you could get anything from a simple oval track to a death zone when the winner will be the last man standing. One time I managed to win an X Cup stage simply because I was a bit slow off the line and every other car went sailing off at the first corner. I shit you not. The game also allows you to spin into your opponents at high speed and destroy their vehicle outright or send them hurtling into oblivion. Finally, the game has an extra mode called Death Race, which challenges you to destroy every other competitor on the road in the fastest amount of time possible, and if that doesn’t sound like fun to you, nothing will. Oh, and did I mention the game is fucking fast?

13. Mother 3

The second and final RPG on this list, and also one of the few games to genuinely bring me close to tears. I waited til the translated version came out before playing it, but the 2 year wait was well worth it. The story is beautifully constructed, the gameplay is terrific, and while some parts of the game can get repetitive (as is the case with any RPG), the game sucks you in so much that you really don’t care. The main characters of the game (i.e. the playable ones) are well developed and fleshed out, and the same can even be said of some of the more minor characters as well, which is always essential if you want to tell a good story, and that’s something this game does incredibly well. Itoi has said that this is the end of the Mother saga, which is a shame, but what a way to bow out. I won’t be so callous as to spoil the ending for those who are yet to see it, but suffice to say it’s a tearjerker. Even if you’re not into RPGs like my good self, I’d still recommend you give this one a try, and if you end up liking it, try the other games in the franchise as well. You won’t be disappointed, trust me

12. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

Thanks to the ‘no double dipping’ rule and the fact that an awful lot of the games in my collection are Mario games, I found it extraordinarily difficult to choose just one Mario title for this list. In the end, I narrowed it down to Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, and while this will prove controversial, Yoshi’s Island just pipped it for me. Yes, Mario 3 is widely considered one of the best platformers of all time, and yes, it broke new ground when it was first released back in 1989, but while it remains an extremely solid platformer to this day, it’s lost that ‘wow’ factor that it once had. Yoshi’s Island, on the other hand, literally made me wet myself when I first played it. The gameplay was totally different to anything that had come before it, the controls are tight as hell and some of the later boss battles are great. Yes, the game’s a little too easy (although Kamek’s Revenge can suck a whole box of dicks), but hell, it’s a Mario game, you don’t play them if you want a ridiculously hard challenge, you play them to be entertained, and that’s what this game does even to this day. It’s also worth noting that this game had a lot of effects which were brand new at the time, including enemies growing to enormous size, Yoshi getting dizzy upon touching or eating a Fuzzy, and the (at the time) unique buddy system operated by the Yoshis. It may have lost some originality since its DS sequel came out, but it remains a classic and most likely will do so til the end of time

11. Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (Arcade Edition)

The third and final fighting game, for those who were getting sick of seeing them. Unlike Street Fighter and Soul Calibur, Mortal Kombat is a franchise that has been much maligned, and even I’ll admit that the series has been very hit and miss. The original Mortal Kombat was average to good, then came the excellent MK2, the game which many still tout as Mortal Kombat’s finest. I decided to go with UMK3, however, because while the fighting mechanics of MK2 were probably the best, it lacked in playable characters, with just 12 in total plus a couple of cheap-as-hell bosses. Plain old regular MK3 expanded that to 14 (15 if you count the hidden fighter Smoke), but Ultimate took it overboard, adding a bunch of new characters (all of them ninja palette swaps, but oh well). It may not be balanced, but it is a hell of a lot of fun. And it was the first MK game to feature Ermac, master of telekinesis. Any game that has the balls to turn a glitch from a previous game into a fully fledged character is alright by me (Ermac stands for ‘Error Macro’ and is a reference to a red palette of Scorpion which sometimes accidentally appeared way back in the first MK game, just in case you were wondering). And of course, what Mortal Kombat game would be complete with a truckload of bloody, gory, downright awesome fatalities. Yes, some of them are a little lame (Censored Head Rip, please stand up), and perhaps we could have done without Friendships, Animalities and Babalities, but they did give us an awful lot of different ways to end a fight, and variety IS the spice of life. Some would have you believe that the original MK3 is the one to go for because the AI is better, but don’t believe Ondore’s lies. This game manages to prove that you CAN cram a load of content into a Mortal Kombat game without ruining the core gameplay, a lesson that Mortal Kombat Trilogy sadly didn’t learn when it was released 3 years later…

10. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Unlike my choice for the Mario series’ representative on this list, picking a game for Zelda was easy… due to me only owning one Zelda game. Before you all turn up to firebomb my house, I should point out that I’ve also played Majora’s Mask through to the end, but while that is in itself an extremely good game, nothing compares to the feeling you get seeing Zelda in 3D for the first time. Quite simply, this game was a revelation, and few franchises have translated from 2D to 3D as seamlessly as Zelda managed it. The controls are tight as they come, some of the puzzles are ingenious and the fighting is terrific fun. Some of the enemies are more annoying than others (if I never see another Wallmaster as long as I live it’ll be too soon), but all can beaten if you use the right weapons against them. Every single item and weapon has its purpose as you progress through the adventure, something of a rarity in games today, and the story, while not the most imaginative out there, does just enough to grab you. Ganondorf makes a great villain too, and the battle against him and his monstrous alter ego Ganon at the end of the game can be rightly described as epic. It’s not just Ganondorf either, most of the bosses in the game are really good fun to fight against. One of the best N64 titles evermade.

9. Iji

This choice might have caught people off-guard given how recently it came out and it’s sheer obscurity, but I stand firm by the fact that it deserves to appear on this list. Despite being an independent game, Iji is put together in such a way that makes better than most licensed titles on sale at the moment. The premise is pretty simple: you take control of the survivor of an alien attack on a space station who just so happens to have cybernetic implants (the titular Iji) and fight your way to the end battle against General Tor. However, there are multiple ways to accomplish this goal. You can either blow away everybody in sight, or sneak around like a pacifist without murdering anyone, and the way you play affects the gameplay later on. For example, Iji starts off horrified by the mere thought of killing her enemies, even saying “sorry” after each of her first 50 kills. However, once you’ve massacred over 150 aliens, Iji will develop a thirst for blood, and start screaming and trash-talking after making a successful kill. The way you play can also dramatically affect the storyline. I’m not going to spoil anything, but let’s just say that one decision you make halfway through Stage 8 can completely alter the game’s story. Iji also comes full to bursting with secrets, from hidden weapons which are a lot of fun to use, to a sudden death mode and even a game within the game. Thanks to the amazing array of strategies you can adopt, Iji remains fun from beginning to end, and manages to remain a challenge while doing so. All this and the soundtrack is awesome too. Daniel Remar is to be congratulated for managing to create something which is, quite frankly, the complete package…

8. Kirby Super Star Ultra

And speaking of complete packages, this gem also falls under that category. A Nintendo DS remake of the SNES classic compilation Kirby Super Star (Kirby’s Fun Pak in Europe), Ultra effortlessly ports over all the goodies from the original, and then adds more features on top of that to make it one of the best titles you could ever find for the DS. Just when you thought Super Star couldn’t get any better, Nintendo threw us a curveball and included a number of amazing new game modes, all of which compliment the original perfectly. There’s also a number of new boss battles added, all of them new takes on old favourites, and despite it being a Kirby game the new modes can get pretty damn challenging. Sometimes, less is more, but not in this case. Frezno wasn’t kidding when he said this wasn’t Action Kirby 52. It’s more like Super Kirby All-Stars, only even better

7. Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3

No, this isn’t double-dipping, shut up. One of the first consoles I ever owned was a Game Boy, and one year, during a remarkably rainy trip to Wales, I was allowed to buy a new Game Boy title to alleviate any boredom I might have been feeling. I ended up picking Wario Land and boy did I pick right. It may have Mario Land in the title, but it’s about as close to Mario Land as Metal Gear is to Final Fantasy. Allowing you to play as the bad guy was an incredibly bold move on the part of Nintendo and it paid off big time. Wario’s many bone-crushing moves are great fun to pull off and all in all it’s just a remarkably solid platformer. Most of its sequels are fun to play too, but you can’t top the original in my book.

6. Star Fox 64

Everyone else take notes, this is how you make an on-rails shooter. A remake of sorts of the SNES original Starwing, Star Fox 64 may not have it all, but it comes pretty darn close. The core gameplay is great fun and the difficulty curve is just right, plus nothing beats flying an Arwing and blasting the shit out of anything and everything in sight… especially if it happens to be Slippy. The game was also the first title to use the N64’s fancy SFX chip, allowing every character in the game to have actual spoken dialogue for the first time in Nintendo 64 history. Sadly, the chip must have malfunctioned when the game made it to these shores, as for some inexplicable reason they replaced the speech with a load of annoying sound effects. Maybe they did it to make me hate Slippy more, not that it would have taken much. This game also gave birth to Team Star Wolf and its charismatic leader Wolf O Donnell, whose voice in this game is enough to make you come rivers.

5. WWF No Mercy

This choice is probably going to be the most controversial and least popular of the bunch, but hear me out. Yes, it’s a wrestling game, and yes, to most people wrestling is lamer than a man with no legs, but that doesn’t stop the game from being amazing. No Mercy has a grand total of 64 playable characters in all, with each of them having 4 costumes to choose from, plus you can create up to 18 additional wrestlers using the game’s handy Create a Wrestler feature. All the moves you know and love from your childhood are there, from the Stone Cold Stunner to the Rock Bottom to the Tombstone Piledriver, and best of all you can change the default characters to look like anything you want, so if you want to try and make your game look more up to date, you have that option. Most other wrestling games that came after this totally suck, but No Mercy manages to both look good and play good. If customisable content is your idea of seventh heaven, track this one down today

4. Sonic Adventure 2: Battle

This was another tough choice, but in the end Sonic Adventure 2: Battle beat Sonic 3 and Knuckles to the punch by the narrowest of margins. The reason I plumped for this one is that while it may not be the most amazing game ever made, and possibly not even the best Sonic game ever made, it was the first Sonic game I ever owned that was in 3D (the abomination that is Sonic 3D Blast doesn’t count), and that alone blew me away. OK, so the Knuckles/Rouge treasure hunting sequences are a bit lame, that I can’t deny, but the sheer thrill you get from controlling Sonic and Shadow as they tear down stages at 50+ mph more than makes up for it, and while Tails should never have been put into a mech, I personally find the shooting stages to be a lot of fun. It may have some camera issues, especially when playing as Knuckles or Rouge, but that doesn’t stop it from being a fun 3D platformer with quite a bit of variety. The soundtrack’s great too.

3. Perfect Dark

The last 3 titles on this list are all made by Rare. Go figure. Perfect Dark is seen by many as the spiritual successor to the equally popular Goldeneye 007, due to it having the same engine and some similar features. However, Perfect Dark abandons the movie tie-ins, introduces some rocking new weapons that take advantage of the game’s science-fiction setting, and let’s rip. Nearly every weapon in the game has 2 separate functions, and they range from simple pistols and sub-machine guns to explosives, a Crossbow and even a gun that turns your enemies against their own allies. The game has a fair number of glitches which are more apparent today, but they don’t lessen the excitement. If anything, they add to it. This is another game which I still play to this day, and another one perfect for venting some pent-up aggression after a bad day at the office…

2. Banjo-Tooie

The most agonising decision I had to make throughout this entire list was whether to pick Banjo-Kazooie or Banjo-Tooie. In the end, I opted for Tooie. I love the original game dearly, but Tooie managed to expand on it in ways no one could have imagined (although whoever developed the Canary Mary races needs to be shot), and although Banjo and Kazooie have access to numerous new techniques, they don’t get in the way of the core gameplay. The boss battles are fun, the majority of the puzzles are engaging but not too taxing, and all in all it’s just a fun romp. A pity it came out so late in the N64’s life, as this meant it was missed out by some gamers, who missed out on an all-time classic as a result…

1. Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest (SNES)

You were an idiot if you didn’t see this coming. In fairness, all 3 of the DKC trilogy could have easily got on this list had there been no restrictions, but since there were I elected for what I believe is a contender for the best platform game of all time. DKC1 may have set the benchmark with it’s beautifully rendered graphics and engaging play mechanics, but DKC2 took the gameplay ball and ran with it all the way to the moon. The addition of the Team Throw move was pure genius on Rare’s part, and the controls are some of the best ever seen in a platform game. We’re unlikely ever to get a Donkey Kong Country 4 now, and the Nintendo-published GBA remake of this game just isn’t in the same class, but all the same you can’t get much closer to platforming perfection…

So there you have it, my personal top 20 video games of all time. If you to play a great video game, you could do worse than give some of these bad boys a try. And if you’re wondering about the lack of Mega Man, Castlevania etc., it’s because I’m yet to sample the delights of those series, so they were ineligible. As always, feel free to let me know how you feel about my chosen games as well as inform me of any I might have missed. All I ask is that you keep the fanboy-ism to a minimum…



1. BMS - August 8, 2009

Nice list Rainiac. The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was also one of my favorite shows growing up…(Ahh nothing like that early 90’s nostalgia). And you’re right, for being a movie/show spin-off game, it was actually quite decent, especially the soundtrack. Street-Fighter II, Yoshi’s Island, hell pretty much all of the SNES and 64 games you mentioned hold a special place with me!

2. alex G - September 5, 2009

This was a great list….although the banjo decision is a tough one for me too. It’s about 10th on my list, but i think i would have to take the sequel too, bc of the endless fun in multiplayer

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