My first job paid $6.50 per hour at the good ol’ YMC of A. Little did I know that such a small commitment at 15 would lead to almost 10 years of disappointment. Be careful who you sell your soul to kids, and be especially wary of non-profits that injudiciously use buzz phrases like “values-based leadership” or “no raises this year, but here’s a branded koozie cup!”
Paperboy was supposed to be like my first job where I didn’t expect much and just wanted to be able to buy a handle of Aristocrat by the end of the pay period. That’s some low expectations right there, but somehow Paperboy missed the mark: swigging bathtub vodka would be much more entertaining than this game.
After all, It’s a game about delivering newspapers for Christ’s sake! What was going to be this developer’s next hit? A game about the person who screws on toothpaste caps?
Being of elementary school age meant that I wasn’t in control of my discretionary spending. Whatever momma bought was what sonny was going to play. However, I could steer her in the right direction with a few not so subtle hints. Riding the hype from Nintendo Power, I knew I had to have Quest 64.
I was yearning for a new RPG — I was still replaying FFVI for God’s sake! The previews looked like it was the right game for the first RPG entry into the N64 catalog. The vistas were chocked full of things to explore. The battle system intricate. The stat system innovative.
After playing for a very short time, I became frustrated. The game was a grind. The people and places hallow. The story non-existent. It was a nasty, brutish, and short experience. Soon after, I acquired a ps1 where my RPG gaming life was about to change for the better.
Revisiting this game now only brings up feelings of what could have been. There are plenty of bright spots (the combat system and stat system were intricate and innovative), however, everything else pulls it down. The grind really wears on you, and with no story to buoy your interest, the final stages are a test of perseverance.
I always start these games with the best of intentions: no guides, embrace the grind, willing to flounder. The drama of these games are in the struggle, and if you run to a walkthrough at the first moment of adversity, you will destroy anything these old games have to offer. The joy is figuring out the puzzles both via your own skill and serendipitous discovery.
Crystalis started as the type of game you do these top 100 lists for: a complete joy of an unknown. The graphics, mechanics, and puzzles are an addictive pull to do more. It was an instant favorite, but then came the moment that happens in every NES adventure/puzzle/RPG — the inscrutable puzzle with no hints and no logic but is required for you to continue. Thankfully, it survives this moment and avoids the NES’s ultimate desire to make every game unenjoyable.
I’ve been in Jacksonville for nine weeks. Not a day has gone by where I did not see an accident either in real-time or post-impact. I’ve witnessed people ride over medians to make a u-turn. I’ve caught people going the wrong direction on the wrong side of the street. It’s rekindled my love for paranoid defensive driving where you pretend everyone is possessed by a demon.
While it might not help my blood pressure, it sure did help me deal with F-Zero — no one does what you think they will. There is some fun moments to be found, but this 1991 legacy seems a bit bare today only worthy of a couple nights of play.
You might think you are playing SMB2, but really it’s playing you.
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #21/100 My Rating:
As the odd ball, SMB2 does a lot of things never seen before: it prominently incorporates a transgendered bird, hides rocket ships in plain sight by masquerading them as root vegetables, and allows the consumption of a potion for us to see dark world reflections of reality.
During this adventure, we feel like we are the driver of our thoughts, allowed to make character selections and win extra lives in roulette. Little do we know that SMB2 is playing with house money, and we are just along for the ride.
As the hour count continued to rise, I continued to play to not lose out on time already invested.
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #40/100 Developer: Taito My Rating:
“Individuals commit the sunk cost fallacy when they continue a behavior or endeavor as a result of previously invested resources (time, money or effort)” (Arkes & Blumer, 1985).
You know, I like to think of myself as rational. Who doesn’t like to imagine themselves as an autonomous agent living out their free will initiatives? Unfortunately, Lufia and the Fortress of Doom dissolved any notion of me being in control of my faculties. This game is a hot piece of garbage, a big to-do list from hell, and it could only be my irrational, emotional processes that made me continue.
And the frail quilt of patched-together, leftover parts.
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #70/100 Developer: Rare My Rating:
Cranky Kong is a prescient figure in the Donkey Kong Country series; complaining of video gamers today, he warns how things to use to be harder and how easy we have it today.
I never thought he would live to see the day where it happens to his own family.
Donkey Kong Quest 3 (DKC3) was a very late installment on an old system — the N64 was released months prior when DKC3 was released for SNES. Because of this, it didn’t garner much attention as many people already moved to the new, shiny system. This is a good thing: DK3, while fun, is a step back from the other two installments on the SNES, mocking us with a false sense of achievement.
How much stimulus can the human mind handle? Exactly enough to juggle and dodge 1300 sprites of doom.
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #52/100 Developer: Konami My Rating:
One theory for general anxiety disorder is that it’s due to some lowering of neuron-firing threshold. The entire nervous system is more excitable, and it takes very little stimulus to get widespread action potentials promulgating through your central nervous system.
If you don’t have this problem, Gradius III will surely give it to you: one-hit death, complicated bosses, tricky navigation, a hundred projectiles. While some might view beating the game as an accomplishment, I believe getting through it without increased cortisol levels more of a feat.
An electric-blue, phallic symbol of power is all that matters in this beat-em up adventure.
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #60/100 Developer: Technos My Rating:
The Lee brothers are at it again. The last time I got familiar with Billy and Jimmy, they taught me that life is not fair. In this reincarnation, they really don’t teach me much of anything: there is no plot, no story, no instructions. You are just dropped off in a world of baddies, smashing your way without a care in the world…
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #19/100 Developer: Rare My Rating:
This has always been a down low favorite game of mine, and it has a lot to do with all the secrets that are so enticing to find. Diddy Kong’s Quest offered the original Xbox Achievements as each level is scattered with hidden DK coins and tokens. I feel like this was the first time that someone considered replay value beyond a stale rerun through the same levels.
DK2 has the usual quirkiness that the game traditionally brings: a little bit of culture, bizarre animal enemies, and adult Kongs that have their own unique angles. Cranky Kong is probably a favorite as he chastises the player for having it so much easier than earlier gamers (arcade and NES era) and breaks the fourth wall a little bit. This always gave the game a boost of flare and made it more rememberable.