Games and I
Strangely games aren't as much fun anymore. I tried to make myself immerse into Dungeon Siege 2 and failed. The triumph or death of the characters simply doesn't seem to matter to me. What is left to me are nostalgic memories of how those games used to bring great joy to my life. I figure I should write down a simple summary before even the memories fade into the sands of time.
It all started the summer of 1988 in the form of a birthday present. The simple white and red Nintendo Family Computer (Famicom) came with one game - Super Mario Brothers. The wonderful discovery of hidden mushroom, stumping on Little Goombas, and facing fire breathing Bowser to save the princess in that silly pink dress. The world was never the same after that.
The next big bang in my gaming universe came in the form of Final Fantasy IIIj. Not like the silly US Final Fantasy III that is actually Final Fantasy VIj. The one that forever hooked me to RPG genre has magic, red mage, air ship, cid, onion kids, ninja, moogles, summoning, and job system. Yes, that's right, cute and beloved Moogles first show their face in Final Fantasy IIIj. Ninja class in RPG was invented here. Cid did not exist in FF until now. This game is nothing but evolutionary. Even to this day I still love all 8-bits of its crappy graphic and the simple midi opening music can always cheer me up. At the risk of sound like an old man, I will say this; they don't make games like this any more.
After that big bang, games seems to come and go. Final Fantasy V-X, been there, played those. Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy IX, and Final Fantasy X stood out as some of my favorites. I am ashamed to admit I shed a tear when Titus dies in Final Fantasy X. Oh, you didn't know he dies in the end of Final Fantasy X? you haven't played Final Fantasy X?!
Final Fantasy Tactic also has a special place in my heart, I love how different it is from all the other in this legendary series. The plot is also one of the truest regarding human nature. The way they told the story in a matter of fact manner like a true history made the universe real to me. I love that.
There are some other notable RPG which I shall simple mention by name. Each name means weeks of my life and I can't say I regret it. Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross, Secret of Mana, Lunar Silver Star Story, Diablo, Hellfire, Diablo 2, Dungeon Siege, Dungeon Siege 2, Deus Ex: Invisible War, Never Winter Nights, Parasite Eve, Robotrek, Terranigma, Illusion of Gaia, EVO: Search for Eden, Star Ocean, Tales of Phantasia, Leisure Suit Larry: Love for Sail, Dragon Quest VI, Rygar, Morrowind 3, Dragon Warrior VII, Fallout 2, Fallout 2: Brotherhood of Steel. Those are the ones that came to mind.
There is a point and time when a boy crosses into the dark side of action games. The time when he leaves the magical good vs evil into a shoot everything that moves frenzy mode. I crossed that line in 1994 all thanks to a wonderful game called Marathon 2: Durandal. The company who made this action packed shooting game is Bungie, now-a-days better known as the company who made Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2. Two of the games good enough that people buy X-Box simply to play these games. I don't usually enjoy shoot-em' up games, but since Durandal I have chanced other games like Half-Life, Soldier of Fortune, Halo, and Time Splitters. They are addicting if you can find a friend to start a shooting match, computer AI is usually too dumb to jump from 3rd floor down to flank you from behind then disappear into the wind with a grenade explosion as distraction.
Yes, Shooting games you play with friends, RPG games you play by yourself. So I thought, until Blizzard proved me wrong with World of Warcraft. The most addicting game ever made for mankind, elf-kind, and orc-kind. MMORPG. Life was never the same after having experienced that immensely well made world. I half suspect my apathy to games now is because nothing else match up to World of Warcraft. Its perfection has forever raise the standard of gaming. In case you don't know, Blizzard is the maker of Warcraft, Warcraft II, Warcraft III, Starcraft, Diablo, Diablo 2, and World of Warcraft. Their products read like a list for best selling games, or a list of Game of the Years. Blizzard is now synonymous as excellent game for good reason.
Besides those great strategy games Blizzard made, I shall name a few more that I enjoy. Age of Empires and Age of Empires II. Microsoft has not done great with their Windows software nor with its Microsoft Word program, but it did a wonderful job on Age of Empires series. For that, I can forgive a lot. Even better, Ages of Empires III is coming out in October. Civilization 2, Civilization 3, Alpha Centauri, Alien Crossfire are all made by one man - Cid Meier. He is a genius, 'nuf said. Age of Mythology, Heroes of Might and Magic, Heroes of Might and Magic II, Galactic Civilization, Simcity 2000, and Worms: World Party.
I have to admit I usually like odd-ball games. Some of the games that I really enjoy are rated pretty low by major gaming sites. After many years of questioning my normality I have come to term and live with that now. Here is a list of those supposedly bad games that I simply love. Dragon Ball Z II: Gekigami Freeza (nes - RPG), Majesty & Majesty: Northern Expansion (PC - Simulation Strategy), Magic the Gathering, Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planewalkers (PC - Strategy), & Spell of the Ancient (PC, Strategy), Space Colony (PC - Simulation Strategy), and Birth of the Federation (PC Strategy).
I would like to say a little more about these games that no one cares about. Other more popular games you have probably heard about already. Even if you haven't, all you need is simply type in the name of the game and click on the first link that comes out. That is not true for my odd ball games. For example, Space Colony is a mix of The Sims and Age of Empires. You have to manage personal that act just like characters in Sims then you have to build structures like Age of Empires and defend yourself. There is also a need to managed finance like Roller Coaster Tycoons. It is a genre defying game, to say the least. The result is wonderfully refreshing.
Birth of the Federation is a StarTrek turn based strategy game. It was made by Microprose, who was brought out by Hasbro Interactive in 1999, then Hasbro Interactive was in turn brought out by Infogrames in 2001. The only link I can find about Birth of the Federation came from a game review in IGN. The game is officially dead, although Infogrames is nice enough to still host the patch for the game. The game is a lot like the popular Galactic Civilization - a turn based build strategy game.
Magic the Gathering and its sequel are both originally a card game. The card game itself I have never actually played. I found the pc game by accident. The card game system on computer is complex but the computer AI has the IQ of a 5 year old...on crack...with 110 degree fever. So yeah, I have to agree the game is not very well made. Yet I really enjoy all the combination a simple card system can have. The game is a nice exercise to find patterns and counter-act your opponent actions (5 year old...on crack...with 110 degree fever opponent). However, the games were made by the late Microprose and therefore once again - dead. Infogrames is nice enough to host the patch. Duels of the Planewalkers was a remake of the game with some improvement, it fixed some bugs and added 33 cards. The only remaining article i can find is a review from Gamespot. Sadly, I can no longer find any patch anywhere for the sequel. Spell of the Ancient is the sequel to both original games. Sadly the only patch is hosted at gamespot and requires a sign up to download.
Dragon Ball Z II: Gekigami Freeza is an old game from the NES day. It is a strange mix of card system and RPG. Maybe my love for Dragon Ball has blinded me to the fact of its simple 8-bit graphic. Maybe my obsession at the time with Goku made a ever-lasting impression of how great the game seems. Either way, I am a sucker for old time games like these.
Then there is Majesty and its expansion which are repackaged into Majest Gold now. It plays a lot like Mall Tycoon or like Sims meets RPG. Basically, you can set down buildings but you have no control with any of the characters. They fight, buy equipment, or rest entirely base on their own mood. You can only set down more inns or more blacksmith or more shop to "encourage" them to do what you want. It is an interesting lay back system of playing. I often love to lay down the foundation for a world and just see how the character live out their lives. You can even follow some of them as they fight or flee the monster, rest at the inn, spent money at the shop, train at the academy...etc. Here is a review from IGN.
Driving game is usually not my cup of tea. That is why Mario Kart 64 totally escaped my mind. That game is a total classic on top of a classic remake. Thanks to Dream_Bender's post to remind me how awesome a combat driving game can be.
Here are some games I am about to try: Half-Life 2, Warhammer 4000 - Dawn of War, and Rome - Total War.
The last list mentions games that I heard great things about but never got the chance to play. It is either due to lack of time or because the graphic is simply too out-dated for me to visit or because I don't own that particular console for the game.
- Kingdom Hearts (PS2, RPG)
- Vagrant Story (PS1, RPG)
- Harvest Moon (SNES, RPG)
- ICO [I bought the game but I don't own a PS2 system, I read through most of the walk throughs in GameFAQs and particularly, this article convinced me to buy it...^_^] (PS2, RPG)
- Xenosaga (PS1, RPG)
- Shenmue & Shenmue II (Dreamcast, RPG)
- Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (SNES, RPG)
- Paper Mario (Gamecube, RPG)
RPGclassics Particularly their Capsule Review, SNES Shrines, and PC Shrines
Final Fantasy Online
Gamespy, particularly their RPGPlanet
If you are interested in more:
Top 99 Games of all time IGN Picks 2005
Top 99 Games of all time IGN Reader Picks 2005
Top 25 Square games, FinalFantasyOnline Picks 2003: 25-21, 20-16, 15-11, 10-06, 05-01.