ScrewAttack's Top 20 Games You Must Play #5-1!
By the way, my name is Dante the Demon Slayer. Has a nice ring to it, don't you think?
Well, it's been a long road with a lot of complaining from people mad that their niche game didn't make it. Much of that complaining was from me, but that's besides the point. It's been a long time coming, the five games voted by the g1 community has the games you must absolutely play at least once in your gaming career. Some are because they're the best of the best, others for the mind opening experiences. Ultimately, they were voted for sheer quality and I even I'm pretty satisfied with the top choices. Ladies and gentlemen, the final five, at long last.
5. Super Mario Bros 3
THE SITE IS CALLED SCREWATTACK, OF COURSE THERE WOULD BE LOTS OF MARIO. That said, I fully agree with the top choice for the series. You can throw Galaxy and World in my face all you want, but as far as I'm concerned, Super Mario Bros 3 is the great of the mainline Mario games. The part that amazes me about this is that the game is still on the NES. It didn't need fancy 16-bit graphics or improved sound quality for the music and a larger variety of colors. You know what this game needed? Content and mechanics, and it has that in spades.
The normal Mario formula was founded and painted out here. The level set-up, the power-ups, the level design, everything. It also did some of this better than some of the other 2D games. One needs only look at the badass Raccoon suit and its gift of flight, changing how you could move through a level. The other new power-ups were equally cool, like the easy swimming (and adorable) Frog suit, that wacky boot, the enemy destroying Hammer Bros suit and the Tanooki suit's introduction to the ground pound ability. We saw the introduction to the world map and ability to choose our own paths, along with flutes that could let us skip all over the place. Don't forget that incredibly memorable level aboard Bowser's fleet. Even in 8-bit, that level was simply breathtaking in just how challenging and grand it was.
I have a lot of bias here, I adore this game. The power-ups are easily my favorite in the series and it acted as the foundation for the entire series to build upon. It's the most influential games ever created and is the origin of many gaming tropes we've come to simply take for granted today. What really makes Super Mario Bros 3 stand out is that its not simply an interesting history lesson but a game that still stands the test of time today and has had many updates over the years. I can honestly say while each update is great, they have never truly improved the already fantastic mechanics. It's hard to improve on near perfection.
Thoughts from other g1s:
Prime example of how you can take something that was simple yet insanely popular, expand on it, and turn it into something even better. Perfect example of how you treat your intellectual property.
Simply an amazing platformer. Has to played at some point. It's incredible that they were able to fit so much game into an NES cart. I was tempted to include Super Mario World instead as it's basically SMB3 + Lance Armstrong's medicine cabinet. But to me a SNES game has to be twice the game of it's NES counterpart to be considered. And SMW is not quite big enough.
4. Chrono Trigger
Now many who have known me for awhile are probably expecting me to make a stink here because Cross is obviously the superior game, but I won't because then it would seem like I hate Trigger, and I love Chrono Trigger. It's really overrated from a story perspective and just sort of forgets some of the more interesting sub-plots, but it's pure gold from a gameplay mechanics perspective and still manages to make one of the most expansive adventures from the SNES era, resulting in the getting two updates twice, once on the PS1 with snazzy anime cutscenes and once on the DS with additional story content to better tie it in with Chrono Cross. Why Square Enix has not gotten around to making a third game in the series, however, remains a mystery. Probably because they keep making KH spinoffs nobody wanted to continue a confused clusterfuck of a plot and keep trying to push FFXIII and make people like it.
The story of Chrono Trigger follows a "character" that only acts as the player avatar that people mistake for a character because most people have no idea what characters are. His friend ends up making a time machine by accident and the two and a princess find themselves in medieval times, where a frog warrior is trying to save the land from an evil wizard. They eventually get back, but that's only the start of a crazy time travel quest as they discover that a powerful monster named Lavos is asleep in the Earth and will awake sometime in the future, ruining the planet. The growing gang of heroes take it upon themselves to save everything they love from the creature, but things slowly become more and more complicated as they learn more about the creature.
People who call this game a masterpiece of story telling have not played many games from this generation, but to call the story bad would be an insult. Chrono Trigger has a surprisingly tight and focused plot for a time travel tale, filled with memorable characters and surprising twists abundant, including one of the single ballsiest moves Square has ever made. Hell, it's a move ballsy even for most developers today. The game itself introduced an idea of characters teaming up to do super moves, making the organization of your party more important than its ever been, something many games like Wild Arms 5 has taken and used for their own games. At the end of the day, its simply the grand and realized world that sucks you in. The people making this game really wanted to make an unforgettable experience and even allowed tons of ways to tackle it, resulting in tons of endings and New Game+ options to find the others. Of course, I just preferred getting one ending and remembering it as the adventure special to me. Chrono Trigger's greatest strength is that its timeless, which is kind of ironic.
Thoughts from other g1s:
Created by some of the best minds in the business, Chrono Trigger is an absolutely endearing tale about a group of heroes, traveling through time to save the world. The music is some of Uematsu's best work. The characters are interesting and developed, The game moves at a brilliant pace. This game is close to RPG perfection. I loved Persona 4, it's one of my favorite JRPGs. However, it doesn't even hold a candle to this 1995 classic.
It's a great RPG for all levels of gamers with an interesting plot, great characters, soundtrack and gameplay. I love this game a lot and I believe everybody should play it at some point in their gaming career. It's one of the finest aged JRPGs of the 90s and one of the best games ever made.
I bet you weren't expecting the original to rank higher than the sequel. It's a strange thing to do, but in the case of Portal, I get why people seem to prefer the original more. Both are fantastic games, but the first Portal was something nobody had really experienced before. This wasn't a big shooty FPS of a game where you were stopping an alien menace or those darn Russians/Terrorists/North Koreans/Various Brown Skinned Races like so many modern shooters have you do. Instead, it as an experimental puzzle game with a very interesting mechanic and a campaign that really managed to hit some emotions I don't think many people were expecting to feel. That effect is lost today with how people have endlessly discussed the game (my playthrough was very enjoyable but not as special as others), but it's still a game that needs to be experienced by all counts, even more than the sequel.
The game's story is simple. You are some girl (you know because you can see yourself through portal trickery) in some white and lifeless complex that a computer named GLaDOS tells you is for testing. You're testing out a new portal gun and traversing through various obstacles, but it slowly starts to become apparent that there's something off with the computer looking over you. By the end of it, you're just trying to get out and survive your increasingly deadly quest, filled with gun mounted robots with cute voices and fire filled pits of doom. Let's just say the overly clean design of the mysterious testing lab houses far more disturbing secrets than at first appears.
Portal uses isolation to its fullest. You are the only human character present and you never talk. Your only other companions are those cute little killer robots and the computer GLaDOS, who goes from amusingly emotionless to playfully crazy and calculated, just in a very inhuman way that makes her actions very hard to predict. Even with much of the game spoiled I still felt some shock and tension from the situations that slowly began to develop during the final stretch. People love GLaDOS so much because there's no villain like her and because she's made to be such an emotionally connecting presence, and I don't just mean the old fallacy of "EMOTION EQUALS SADNESS." On top of this, the Portal mechanics are a blast to experiment with and result in some mindbending solutions to the later puzzles. There's a reason a tag-line for the sequel was "Let's have fun with science."
Thoughts from other g1s:
One of the best puzzle games ever made, Portal has you navigating a test chamber controlled by an AI. As the game progresses you learn more about the dark secrets that the test chamber holds. Plus, the game is funny as hell.
A hell of a contender for the title of Best Puzzle Game ever made. It's one of the few games out these days that actually makes you think in order to progress through the test chambers. And who can forget the humor brought by the "lovable" GLaDOS?
2. Persona 4
This game. This game right here. Oh man.
I cannot begin to tell you how much I fucking love Persona 4. This is my favorite game of all time and has not been replaced since I first played it. I have played through it at least four times now, and it never gets old. I adore every single thing about this game. I love the characters. I love Inaba. I love the dungeon crawling. I love the social links. I love the art style. I love the music. I love the story. I love the villains. I love the pacing. I love how the story balances perfectly between happy go lucky comedy to dark and emotionally heavy dramatic turns. The only complaints I can come up with over this game are just minor story issues, and when I say minor, I mean very minor. It took the great ideas of Persona 3 (which is HEAVILY flawed) and perfected every single damn thing, and I adore it for it. I have never played such a perfect game in my entire life.
The story of Persona 4 follows your main character, now known in canon as Yu, thanks to the anime. You've moved from the big city to the small town of Inaba with your uncle Dojima for a year due to your parents being on a business trip. After meeting some colorful characters at the local school you'll be going to, a woman you just met is found dead, hung up on a TV antenna after a foggy day. If you think that's strange, you quickly discover that you can somehow go inside your TV and some of your school friends gain the ability when they discover their power called Persona, a personality we use in our regular lives turned into a physical being in this bizarre world in the TV, where monsters called shadows feed on whoever ends up in there. Somebody is throwing people in the TV with the same power of Persona and you and your friends make a promise to catch the criminal, who can go where the police have no power. Just one problem; If you want a persona and you're not the main character, you have to face your inner shadow, the part of yourself you hide from the world. Meaning, you have to face all of your worst qualities and thoughts at their most vile. Who is the person throwing people in the TV world? What is the strange and friendly creature named Teddie, who lives there with almost no memory? How is the killer picking victims? How does persona even fit into the equation? The answers are far bigger than you would expect.
The first time I met an inner shadow, I could hardly believe what I was seeing and hearing. The comedic relief guy you met just recently who selflessly went into the TV world to try and find out who killed his friend was revealed to have a hidden side completely defined by being bored of life and only doing what he was doing to find something interesting to do, not even caring about what happened to the person he had a crush on or any true noble ideals. Each and every reveal from then on becomes even more twisted and horrific, every character filled with envy, rage, disgust and self-loathing. The minute I met the first inner shadow was when I knew I was in for something special, and I was right. Unlike in Persona 3 where the entire cast as a collective emo moment, your party members have to encounter their worst qualities right off the bat and learn to improve themselves in their social links after the powerful moment of having to accept that horrible part of them. The result are some of the most likable characters you'll ever find in any game, all with a ton of flaws used to make them more understandable and complex. I remember every single one of them, and I remember all of my social links as well, each more interesting than the last (exception to the band social link). The game is all about exploring and understanding this massive cast and what makes them people, helping them improve and move past their darker moments or insecurities. It all pays off with every completed social link character cheering you on in the final battle, every single friend you've made reminding you of what you helped them learn to keep you moving on.
Yes, story is a massive reason why I love this game, along with the charming atmosphere, but there's also the game itself, mixing visual novel elements with dungeon crawling and monster fusion. I lost countless hours just making new personas to prepare myself for the coming challenges alone, while the dungeons themselves stick with the basics of the JRPG, turn based combat with visible enemies you can strike to begin combat and gain an edge. The weakness system is absolutely needed to master in order to survive, relying on a lot of planning and reacting to new situations as fast as possible. However, the visual novel elements that take up a large chunk of the game help with this part. Social links are made by spending time with characters and these links give bonuses experience to new personas of the same arcana, along with unlocking new personas to create at the maximum level. You can gain items to assist in dungeons, along with new support skills from your other party members from their social links. They'll take fatal blows for you (which is great as it's instant game over if you die), follow up bog hits with instant kills or attacks that flip over a ton of enemies and even gain new, more powerful personas at the max rank. Inversely, social links become stronger while you have a persona of the matching arcana, allowing dungeon mechanics to assist with the VN mechanics. The game feeds into itself and supports you to not ignore either game style, all while making it very rewarding with difficult bosses, interesting character arcs and hidden treasures to improve your team.
I could go on and on about the game in much, much greater details with a ton of spoilers everywhere, but I would be doing you a disservice. Persona 4 is my favorite game of all time, and it holds that same spot among many g1s. Whenever it came up on a list, it was almost always number one or two, and for good reason. It's engrossing, it's well paced, it's fun and it's an unforgettable experience.
Thoughts from other g1s:
It shouldn’t have happened. I’m not really an RPG guy. I’m not really an anime guy. Yet here I am, telling you that the game I most strongly recommend is Persona 4. In a way, Persona 4 snuck into my psyche. You see, although I’m neither an RPG nor anime guy, as previously mentioned, I am very much a sit in front of a computer and watch videos on the internet guy; likely to a fault, but that’s not the point. In early to mid 2010 I had discovered a video game website called Giant Bomb and while going through their back catalog of videos, I saw that they had a Series called Endurance Run: Persona 4. 100+ hours of video later, I had finished watching their let’s play, with a certain level of appreciation for the game. Over the next two years, I would occasionally go back and watch a few specific parts of the Endurance Run, but I never really considered buying the game to play myself or looking into past games in the series or anything like that. That would all change in august of 2012. For that’s around the time Persona 4 Arena came out. I hadn’t paid much attention to the game up until the week before its release, but then I discovered it had a story mode. Upon learning of this I hastily preordered the game. After playing through the story mode, which is good in its own right, I was more interested in the Persona universe than ever before. The game combined the cast of Persona 3 and Persona 4, so what did I do? I bought Persona 3 and Persona 4, of course.
And that is how, ladies and gentlemen, I fell down the rabbit hole.
And the golden nugget at the bottom of that rabbit hole is Persona 4.
Persona 4 is an excellent game. It is very, very, very, good.
In Persona 4, you play the role of a student who for one year moves from the big city to the rural town of Inaba, Japan. Soon after you move in with your uncle and cousin, a chain of murders begin taking place in the town. The rumor of a “midnight channel”, a program that comes on TV at midnight during rainy nights begins swirling around, and soon enough, it goes full supernatural with you and your new friends jumping inside of TVs to save people. You play through the game trying to find out who the killer is, as well as why the Midnight channel and world inside the TV exists. All of that stuff is well and good, but it’s not why Persona 4 is a great game. Its true strength lies in its characters and what the story does both with and to them.
At one point or another, each member of your growing investigation team encounters their “shadow”, a manifestation of an aspect of that character that they don’t want others to see and don’t want to acknowledge themselves. The shadow confronts them with the thoughts and feelings that the characters don’t want to face and it ultimately results in the character denying that the shadows are a part of them, which results in a boss fight; this is an RPG after all. These ‘face yourself’ moments are some of the most compelling in the game, as it beats the characters down, shows you their perceived flaws and fears, and then rubs it in their face. Even the coolest headed characters eventually succumb to the shadow’s taunting, completely lose it, and I loved watching every minute of it. In my experience, there hasn’t been another video game that has provoked nearly as much personal introspection or outright thought about life as Persona 4 has. These face yourself moments and the meaning behind them are a huge part of that.
The other way the game specifically excels at characterization is with the social link system. It’s pretty simple; you have ten or so conversations or share in situations with a given character. Over the span of time that you spend with them, you get to learn about the character, know the struggles they’re going through, the questions they have about themselves and so on. It’s hard to really sell these moments without telling you exactly what happens, and even that would be selling it short without the context that the game provides, but they are very well done, and many touch on some heavy topics. There around 20 or so different social links, and while you won’t get through them all the first time around, the ones you do get through are good and satisfying by their own merit.
I’ve pretty much skipped over the RPG combat aspect of Persona 4 up until now, and that’s not because it’s poor in any way, but because it’s not what I consider to be the game’s main draw. The combat mostly consists of using magic attacks, which consist of elements like fire, ice, wind, electricity, light, and dark, and physical attacks. There are also buff and debuff spells as well as status ailments like poison, rage, and so on. I could try to make some sort of value judgment on the game’s combat but that would most likely result in me saying that it’s garbage because you can’t use Hydro Pump or something dumb like that. Speaking of Pokémon, in battles you use Personas to fight, which are like Pokémon, except based on mythological creatures, ancient folk characters, and various deities. So really nothing like Pokémon in that respect. They do have different weaknesses and resistances and so on, but it’s dependant on the individual persona, not any sort of type. Come to think of it, maybe I should write some sort of book about this. It’ll be called “So, You Want to Play Persona 4 but Have Only Played Pokémon”
Page 1: Do you want to be very best? Like no one ever was? Too bad! Because you’re a worthless shell of a person, who relies on those around you for everything!
>For “You’re not me!” turn to page 2
>For “What are you saying?” turn to page 1
Well, it’s obvious I’m getting too tired for coherent thought (*look at clock, it’s 3:20am*) so let’s just move on. But one quick thing about the battles. The characters are very emotive during battles, cheering each other on, congratulating each other on critical hits and so forth. Really well done and makes the combat more enjoyable by a large degree.
The game’s tarot card motif and mythological Persona concept is well realized and the character portraits are very emotive; so much so that it’s easy to forget that your party consists of jagged PS2 polygons. This is also helped by an excellent voice cast. The music consists of fantastic and catchy J-pop style (I think. again, not an anime guy. I assume anime has stuff like that in it) music that is full of energy and fits perfectly with the game’s largely yellow or otherwise bright UI elements, which are stylish in their own right. It’s a very pleasant game to be in the presence of.
After beating Persona 4 arena, I spent the next month or two beating Persona 3, and now I’m currently playing persona 4 for myself. Even though it has significantly less Californian quips than the Endurance Run, it’s still an incredible game. Playing through these three games over the past few months honestly has me believing that the Persona series is the best thing going in video games right now.
This has turned into way more of a review than I intended, but if there is any one thing I want you to come away with after reading this whole list (which if you have, congrats to you), it’s that you should play Persona 4. I don’t care what genres you do or don’t like. I don’t care about what consoles you do or don’t own. I don’t care about much of anything anymore, other than Persona. …In all seriousness, if you are looking for a good story, or just something a bit different, give persona 4 a shot. I can’t promise you’ll enjoy it, but I know I sure as hell did.
And that will be the only one for Persona 4 because that's a goddamned essay.
And finally, the top spot goes to...
1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
I'm going to be honest here; Not long ago, I would have just laughed at anyone putting Ocarina of Time on the top of their list. That said, I've come to recently understand how much of a prickish, snobbish attitude that is. It's like hating FFVII just for being liked by a lot of people. But here's the difference; I do honestly believe that FFVIII is vastly overrated by way too many people, it's aged pretty badly and didn't change much beyond the graphics and a push for bigger stories on consoles. But Ocarina of Time? OoT is the real fucking deal. It has stood the test of time. It took the Zelda formula and revolutionized it, all while drenching its tale in surprisingly mature themes that don't constantly point themselves out (COUGHCOUGHSQUAREWRITINGCOUGHCOUGH) in order to get the player to feel exactly what it wanted said player to feel. But most importantly, OoT came out at the perfect time to say what it wanted to say while staying a timeless classic. Mechanically, it's great, but experience wise, OoT is something else. If you casually dismissed it as I once did, rethink that. You might find something here you never noticed before.
The story of OoT follows, as usual, Link. This Link lives in a race of people who are forever children, under protection of the mighty Deku Tree. However, Link's peaceful days have to come to an end as he's sent out to try and be a hero the world is going to need, all while the Deku Tree finally dies and Link can only save the sapling to plant it and ensure that another Deku Tree will grow one day. Eventually, Link reaches Hyrule and meets the young princess Zelda, who explains to him what he can do to help the world, only to find things have gone horribly wrong when he returns and is forced to remain completely still for years after the evil Ganondorf takes over Hyrule and turns the lands into horrific and twisted versions of what they once were. When Link awakens, his childhood has completely skipped him by and he's forced to take the mantle of not only a hero but an adult, thrown into a horrific and savage world. As the story continues, the darkness begins to become more manageable as Link discovers that his past actions have had a positive effect on the world and that even in the darkest of times, there's hope that can be found.
What makes OoT so special is what its about and how it brings this across. OoT rang true for so many at the time because the people who grew up with the LoZ series had entered a time of their life where they were starting to learn what it meant to be an adult. OoT deals directly with this idea under the guise of a generic fantasy tale, with a child forced to grow up in order to survive in a harsh world while coming to terms with the fact that time does not stop for no one and the good times are not forever. It rang true and still does, but it works so well because the game is not all gloom and doom. The Zelda series has always had their darker elements, but they always know how to balance it. The reason GRIM DARK games like Gears of War never really manage to leave an emotional impact when they're always trying so hard is because you don't know any of these characters or the world as anything but GRIM DARK. Why should you care bad things happen when you don't know what things were like before? LoZ never subscribed to this idea of tone and instead makes its message and impact stronger by having you enjoy those lighter times first, then stripping them away but leaving little sparks of light around, like Link's childhood friend still having a connection to him despite how time as changed or seeing that the deku sprout you saved is starting to grow, promising that this world can still be saved from the darkness that has enveloped it.
OoT is still a very moving game to this day if you're willing to let it envelop you, while still offering very strong mechanics that the Zelda series has been coasting on for decades now (annoyingly). As a game, OoT is still something amazing, but it also shows something very important. Videogames are amazing storytelling tools that can contextualize themes and ideas not only with visuals like films but through play. You can understand everything the game wants you to know and learn through just the experience, backed up by the narrative itself. Gaming has all the best qualities of every medium, and OoT is one of the first games that really showed just how all of these mechanics can be used together to do what every other medium already does but even with the possibility to make the effect stronger through interactivity.
The fact that more people talk about dungeons than the absolutely engrossing concepts of this game saddens me a bit. Just like Persona 4, like Spec-Ops, like Portal, like so many other games that have come since the creation of this one, OoT is more than just a game. It's an emotionally powerful experience that no other medium can ever hope to capture the power of.
Thoughts from other g1s:
Hailed as one, if not THE greatest game ever created. As a gamer, this game is definitely one to experience. There's not much to say that hasn't already been said... The Water Temple is one of the best designed dungeons EVER! I'm not being sarcastic on this statement. It is nothing, but the truth!
Considered by many gamers and gaming publishers as the greatest game of all time. Its amazing soundtrack, introduction of free to roam environment, and target lock on system are just some of the few things that Ocarina of Time has to offer. Go play it its good.
This game details the most important events in the entire Zelda series. The origin of Ganondorf, the ensuing Civil War, Ganondorf's corruption of the sacred realm, the Ocarina of time itself, the role of the goddesses creation of the world. All these explations came from this 3D Zelda entry. OOT featured some of the best dungeons in the Zelda series (Forrest, Water, Spirit). Plus, this entry is the most important in the narrative as we saw the timeline to split into 3 different results. Majora's Mask would not exist without Ocarina's groundbreaking accomplishments.
The greatest action/adventure game ever created, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has a very special place in my heart. Everything about this game is nearly flawless, from the tight controls to the awesome graphics (…they were awesome back then) and a massive open world. This was the game that mastered 3D combat, revolutionized the action/adventure genre and turned a new generation on to the future of video games. It is a game that you simply MUST play, regardless of your interest in the franchise.
N64 classic and revolutionary title in gaming history, if you played this game you'll know what I mean, if not do yourself a favor and play it.
I've spent more time playing this game than any other game. This should be a game that any self proclaimed gamer has beat at least once if not multiple times.
Love it or hate it, there is no denying that this game is omnipresent. I hear people on the street saying "HEY! LISTEN!" just like Navi. Koji Kondo's wonderful soundtrack has shown up in every facet of nerd and gamer culture. Every single person I have ever met knows exactly what an Ocarina is. This game practically introduced me to how intelligent game design can be and it FOR SURE introduced me to how wonderful game music is. Must. Play.
Often considered the best game ever for many reasons. The combat is revolutionary, the level design is classic, and the overall experience should not be missed by anyone. Any opportunity you get PLAY THIS GAME.