Top 100 Games of All-Time: #96

Final Fantasy X

Release Date: December 17, 2001 (NA)

Platform Played On: PS2

2018 Placement: Unranked

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What It Is:

The 10th game in the Final Fantasy franchise, the first Final Fantasy on the PS2, and the first to get a numbered sequel in X-2. Like previous Final Fantasies, it’s an RPG that relies on turn-based combat and an involved story that takes place over many hours of gameplay. It changes up the formula a little bit in a few ways, though, to the point that it has my favorite combat system of all the Final Fantasies. First, your entire party is readily available at any time and you can switch them out in combat whenever you want, thereby making it truly feel like a party on an adventure and not forcing you to sideline characters. In addition they remove the ATB/time systems in battle in favor of a global turn order where you can see both the enemy and your next turns. This ends up giving you time to think and also adds a layer of strategy to the battle.

Final Fantasy X also has the Sphere Grid, which is one of the most complicated skill trees for leveling in Final Fantasy history but also a personal favorite of mine just because. It’s no materia or Magicite, and the Zodiac boards improve upon its general idea, but it’s a visually neat system even if it ends up being complex for complexity’s sake.

Why It’s Important To Me:

There are three mainline Final Fantasies that are in a league of their own (and will all show up later on this list) and that’s not really debatable. But I waver back and forth between the fourth best and it really depends on my mood. Last time I did this list, I’d just gotten off revisiting FFXII through Zodiac Age and was on a high off of its job system, characters, and story. But this time around I’m appreciating FFX due to it’s characters, story (and ending!), combat, and music. It also features Seymour who has the absolute wildest hair for any villain in any media ever created.

Final Fantasy was a series I grew up with and so the series always has a special place in my heart. X in particular I remember strongly because it was my first PS2 game (technically I had it and Metal Gear Solid 2 at the same time, but they were the two games I got with my PS2 back in 2001.) I still remember being wowed by the improved visuals in CGI cut-scenes and listen to voice-acting for the first time in a Final Fantasy game. Even if some of the dialogue is very cheesy and some scenes are so bad they’re good, I still love it for being one of the two games that made me go wow at the possibilities on the PS2.

My Strongest Memory:

Blitzball.

It’s a needlessly complicated mini-game that’s included as a diversion but I played the shit out of Blitzball when I originally played the game. I loved the game itself, the different techniques you could use, and how you could recruit and set up your team. It’s probably the mini-game I spent the most time in out of all Final Fantasies (yes, including Triple Triad).

Even now, I’ve recently started a new playthrough of FFX on my PS4 and what I’m looking forward to the most is unlocking Blitzball so I can mess around in it. Story? Pfft, gimme that large water sphere where I can swim around, confuse the enemy team and fire the Jecht Shot to burn some defenders.

Why It’s #96:

It’s been a long time since I played Final Fantasy X and a lot of my memories about the game itself are faded. I totally forgot about how nonsensical and awful the intro sequence is (but it came rushing back to me as I replayed it) but I do remember thinking the same thing back in 2001 and the game comes together once the story takes off and you have a full party. The strongest feelings I have for the game are about it’s combat tweaks and Blitzball, though, and those two things aren’t enough to carry it higher on the list. It IS the fourth-best mainline Final Fantasy, though, at least until I start thinking about Final Fantasy XII again.

Episode 86 – Bagels In Milk

It’s a new week and TMan and HarveyZ have new opinions to share and argue about. Join them on their journey as they debate the best types of cookies and what is allowed to be dunked in milk. They do eventually talk about games, going over a semi-eventful first week in their fantasy draft before talking about the Indiana Jones and Star Wars game news. Finally, HarveyZ’s BS-o-meter is put to the test as TMan throws Pokemon names at him to see if he can pick out what’s real and what’s not. We hope you enjoy!

(This episode was recorded January 20, 2021.)

TMan on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tmanplaysgames

HarveyZ on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ThaZIsSilent

Make Me A Gamer on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/MakeMeAPodcast

E-Mail Us at: makemeagamerpodcast@gmail.com

Discord: https://discord.gg/xNVvTSB

As always, thank you so much for listening and please leave us ratings and feedback however you’re listening to our podcast! Please stay safe out there and stay out of groups if you can!

Top 100 Games of All-Time: #97

Batman: The Enemy Within

Release Date: August 8, 2017 (Ep. 1) – March 27, 2018 (Ep. 5)

Platform Played On: PS4

2018 Placement: Unranked

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What It Is:

It’s Batman.

Okay, I guess I can be a little more descriptive. This is Telltale Games’ second Batman story, told over five episodes and can continue the story using some choices you made in the first game. It has mild point-and-click gameplay, some QTEs, and a little bit of playing as the world’s greatest detective; but it’s mostly dialogue and dialogue-related choices. But it’s a completely new and unique take on the Batman universe that isn’t tied to a specific comic book story.

But primarily, it’s Batman. You know what you’re getting into when you pick up this game.

Why It’s Important To Me:

The thing about comic book properties is that there is a lot of history to them. There have been so many stories told with our favorite superheroes that run the gamut from awful dogshit to edge-of-your-seat page-turners. And so it’s hard to separate what the collective knows as “Batman” and “the Penguin” and “the Joker” and so on from what the characters could be in a different light. This game takes your preconceived notions of what specific members of Batman’s rogues gallery are and flips them on their heads – I don’t want to go into specifics because the game is story-heavy and I don’t want to ruin it for others.

It also dedicates an entire episode to The Riddler, who has always been my favorite Batman villain. They turn him into a Saw-like trap master which I found to be a great use of the character. This game gave me a new story in the Batman universe with unique takes on characters without feeling like they had to fit into the known existing quantity. And that’s why I was gripped by the story and ended up rating this particular Telltale game so highly – I love being surprised even if the skeletal framework is familiar.

My Strongest Memory:

I can’t really talk about it without spoiling the game. But there is a long build-up over the first four episodes of choices and how you treat a specific character in the game – and how you choose to deal with them has a significant impact on how episode 5 goes down. The final resolution is probably similar across both choices, but it’s about the journey not the destination (as are most Telltale games).

Needless to say, it’s the interactions with that character that really elevate this game to another level for me. Sorry for the vagueness.

Why It’s #97:

I waffled back and forth on whether to include this one at all. There were like five games that were fighting for this position as the first “new” game on the list (as the previous three have all been nostalgia-related picks from my previous 2018 list I felt I had to include no matter what).  I bounced between a bunch but finally settled on this one because I couldn’t find a reason not to include it. All the others I remembered flaws or disappointments or reasons I could poke holes in the game. Batman: The Enemy Within doesn’t have any of those. It’s just a well-done story and that’s all there is to it.

Top 100 Games of All-Time: #98

The Suffering

Release Date: March 8, 2004

Platform Played On: PS2

2018 Placement: #88 (-10)

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What It Is:

Torque is a death row inmate accused of murdering his wife and two children, although he can’t remember the action and says he blacked out. Then while he’s in prison a bunch of supernatural horror scary things start murdering all the other inmates and Torque decides to kill them right back and maybe also escape while figuring out what actually happened to his family.

It’s a pretty standard survival horror game, but slightly more run-and-gun action-oriented (think Resident Evil 6 not Resident Evil 2). Enemies are creatures based around prisoner executions, including burrowing enemies that represent being buried alive (I hated those fuckers the most). There’s a fairly basic morality system (by today’s standards) in play as well that will affect the ending you get, but for 2004 the added choices on whether to be completely evil or not were a neat addition. You also get to rage out and become a monster every now and then to completely decimate the enemies attacking you, giving you a sense of strength over helplessness that is sometimes missing in horror games.

Why It’s Important To Me:

Do you know that one game you’ve played that you feel like you have to champion for? Because you personally feel like if you don’t keep talking about it, the game itself will fade away into oblivion and the collective unconscious will completely forget about it? That’s this game for me. I’m not a big horror gamer so this action-based horror game was much more up my alley than anything else and it’s stuck with me to the point that I feel I must ring the bell on it so people will remember it exists, even if it’s just a “Oh hey, yeah I remember that! Wow!”

I mean, I know games like Resident Evil 4 and Silent Hill 2 and others are objectively better games by a wide margin on most units of measurement. And yeah maybe on every other top 100 games list those would be argued for instead of The Suffering. But while everyone else was playing those games, I was playing this one and it was fun. And that’s what matters for a game, yeah?

My Strongest Memory:

The intro of the game was creepy as hell. There’s an earthquake, the lights go out, and then inmates start being pulled off-screen while screaming bloody murder. As you move around the prison you see guards and inmates mutilated and killed in front of you in various horrifying ways, but without getting a clear look at the monsters plaguing the facility. It’s also combat-less for the majority of the beginning so it just ratchets up the tension until you finally start fighting the creatures.

It’s a really well-done opening that might be stock schlock in the horror game element nowadays, but when I played it for the first time back in the day it was vivid enough that it stuck with me.

Why It’s #98:

Like I said above, there are plenty of games just within the horror genre that are objectively better than The Suffering. And then outside the genre there are waaaaay more. But this isn’t objective, this is my subjective list. While I don’t feel strongly enough about it to throw it really high on the list, it’s important enough to me to get a place right here because I feel like it’s not going to show up on many lists that aren’t mine. I’ve gotta do right by it.

Top 100 Games of All-Time: #99

N++

Release Date: July 28, 2015

Platform Played On: PS4

2018 Placement: #89 (-10)

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What It Is:

Ninjas are cool. And ninjas like gold. So to be the best ninja, you have to collect all the gold and make it to the exit. Without dying, of course. Simple premise, right? Well after an hour of screaming while doing the same level over and over and over maybe you won’t think it’s as simple. Still, N++ is the single-best game in the gold-loving ninja platformer genre.

The platforming is a little floaty and not as tight as a Super Meat Boy or Celeste, but once you grasp the gravity of the situation (ha-HA!) you’ll be able to climb up walls and bounce off blocks with ease. Avoid missiles, lasers, patrolling robots, mines, and all sorts of other hazards as you collect gold to increase your time. Be as greedy as you want to get as high a score as possible, but a ninja only has but one life to give for their country so if you’re too greedy you’re gonna have to tackle the level again.

Why It’s Important to Me:

The first iteration of N was a Flash game (R.I.P. Flash) that released in 2005. Once it was released, me and a few of my college friends all got into playing it to see who could get the best scores and whether we could complete the most treacherous of levels. One of us believed that the only way to succeed was to get ALL the gold and get out. Others felt survival was the only necessity. Whatever the philosophy, it was a single-player experience that still felt uniquely competitive as we were all grabbing gold on our own time and trying to one-up each other.

N++ is the final (and best) iteration of the N series and while it’s been a long time since my friends and I competitively chased for gold, playing this version of the game still fills my heart with happiness remembering good college times with my buddies.

My Strongest Memory:

Pitcher Plant. Okay, so this is kind of cheating at my own rules because this is a level from the original N and not N++. But I specifically remember this level because all of us got stuck at it for a long time. It was the bane of our existence for at LEAST an afternoon, maybe even an evening. Or a couple days? Time is a construct. Anyway, this level is so burned into my brain that I scrolled through the list of 500-ish total stages on the N fandom wiki and as soon as I saw the words “Pitcher Plant” I knew EXACTLY that was the level I was thinking about in my head. (And it was, as is evidenced by the picture of the stage in the entry.)

It was tougher than it looks.

Why It’s #99:

I haven’t played N++ in a few years. Most of the memories I associate with the game itself are from its predecessor, N. In reality, N++ is on here probably as an amalgamation of N, N+, and N++ just because I love this particular platformer series so much due to having a friend group enjoy it with me. It’s worth a spot on my top 100 and I chose N++ because it’s the most easily available and most modern version, but I can’t put it above others because of the nebulous nature of why this game’s on here in the first place. It’s still the finest iteration of the series and definitely worth a play.

Top 100 Games of All-Time: #100

The Lost Vikings

Release Date: April 29, 1993

Platform Played On: SNES

2018 Placement: #92 (-8)

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What It Is:

Before Norse mythology was cool and you could be an Assassin in Valhalla, there was the trio of lost Vikings. Erik is the agile one: he can jump and dash. Baleog is the muscle: he’s the only one that can attack with either his sword or bow. And Olaf is, well, he’s definitely not the brains. But he CAN hold a shield and block dangerous obstacles, along with hang-gliding for the fun of it.

Erik, Baleog, and Olaf are normal everyday Vikings who get kidnapped by a spaceship and end up rocking and rolling through time and space, from the prehistoric times to a weird fun house-esque world to ancient Egypt and more. It’s a game about solving puzzles while avoiding enemies and navigating death traps while you switch back and forth between each Viking and use each of their specific skills to progress. There’s humorous dialogue between the three Vikings as they progress through the stages which keeps the game light in tone despite some of the horrific deaths you can put them through.

Why It’s Important To Me:

In the early years of video gaming, there weren’t a lot of options for co-op. Either you played brawlers like Final Fight and Streets of Rage, you shot things together in games like Contra, or one player was a lackey like Tails while Sonic did all the work. The Lost Vikings was a game I really enjoyed playing with my friends because we got to navigate and solve platforming puzzles together. We also got to fuck with each other and completely mess up an entire level’s worth of hard work because one of us accidentally fell onto some spikes or messed up Olaf’s hang-gliding at the wrong moment or used a bomb for funsies and couldn’t progress anymore.

While it’s absolutely an enjoyable single player game I get distinct happy feelings when I think about this game because I can remember sitting in my basement playing it with my friends as we tried to navigate every single level. And then writing down the password of each level as we progressed because there weren’t save states back then, only motherfucking passwords. But when you lost the sheet of paper that had all the passwords and had to start over…anyway, that’s neither here nor there.

My Strongest Memory:

It’s weird, but the first thing that always pops to mind for me with this game is the aforementioned fun-house world. There’s a specific mechanic where the Vikings can inflate themselves like a balloon to traverse the area. And while it didn’t awaken anything in me, when I close my eyes I can still see the sprite of poor inflated Olaf. He looks so hilarious compared to the other two when they’re inflated because the other two keep their left-to-right look but he ends up looking straight at the camera with his arms wide like a little helpless ball of Norsitude.

Just don’t think about what happens when he hits the spikes. (Pop.)

Why it’s #100:

This game is mostly fond nostalgia for me. When I looked at the lower numbers on the list I made in 2018 that were in danger of being knocked out thanks to new games, I mentally told myself “Lost Vikings has to stay on the list no matter what.” And if I had that visceral a response to it’s inclusion, well, it deserves a spot on the list. But I also couldn’t put it above many other games I enjoyed that are new to the list. So that’s how we’re starting this epic adventure off – with a game I wanted to keep on this list through hell or high water.

 

Episode 85 – Zombie Animal Crossing (Inaugural Fantasy Draft)

Hello it’s a Monday and we’re here with your weekly Make Me A Gamer episode! Are you ready for the rough and tumble world of fantasy drafting? Because this episode TMan and HarveyZ throw hands as they participate in a head-to-head fantasy gaming league and pick their contenders for best 2021 releases, complete with a real reward for the winner at the end! Strap yourselves in and see what they pick as they go over some of the games possibly coming out this year! Enjoy!

(This episode was recorded January 13, 2021.)

TMan on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tmanplaysgames

HarveyZ on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ThaZIsSilent

Make Me A Gamer on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/MakeMeAPodcast

E-Mail Us at: makemeagamerpodcast@gmail.com

Discord: https://discord.gg/xNVvTSB

As always, thank you so much for listening and please leave us ratings and feedback however you’re listening to our podcast! Please stay safe out there and stay out of groups if you can!

Episode 84 – Eff That Turtle

2021 has begun! It’s a new year with the same Make Me A Gamer! No resolutions or format change ups here, just the same TMan and HarveyZ shenanigans you’re used to. This week TMan goes over how Cyberpunk 2077 crashed and burned in December, and then HarveyZ talks about Phoenix Point, the XCOM-like he’s been playing! Enjoy!

(This episode was recorded December 30, 2020.)

TMan on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tmanplaysgames

HarveyZ on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ThaZIsSilent

Make Me A Gamer on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/MakeMeAPodcast

E-Mail Us at: makemeagamerpodcast@gmail.com

Discord: https://discord.gg/xNVvTSB

As always, thank you so much for listening and please leave us ratings and feedback however you’re listening to our podcast! Please stay safe out there and stay out of groups if you can!

Episode 83 – A HarveyZ Snaps Retrospective

Oh hey, didn’t see you there! Surprise! It’s another episode of Make Me A Gamer! That’s right, we’re sending off 2020 with two episodes in the same week! This one is a special, New Year’s Eve wrap-up episode as we’re ending the year looking back on the podcast. Our longest-lasting bit was HarveyZ Snaps, and this episode we’re taking a look back at all the weird either/or scenarios that TMan came up with for his co-host and seeing whether Harvey has changed his mind on what he’d rather keep. We hope you enjoy this final episode of the year and we’ll see you all in 2021! Have a safe and happy new year!

(This episode was recorded December 23, 2020.)

TMan on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tmanplaysgames

HarveyZ on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ThaZIsSilent

Make Me A Gamer on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/MakeMeAPodcast

E-Mail Us at: makemeagamerpodcast@gmail.com

Discord: https://discord.gg/xNVvTSB

As always, thank you so much for listening and please leave us ratings and feedback however you’re listening to our podcast! Please stay safe out there and stay out of groups if you can!

The 2020 Manatees: Written Companion

So every year for Make Me A Gamer we do a podcast with our Game of the Year content, and every year I also do a write-up of my games of the year as a companion piece. This year we went over my top 5 of the year in the podcast itself, and here I’m gonna expand to my top 10 along with a few honorable mentions.

Nothing else to say, just good ol’ year-end summary of games content coming. Here we go!

Continue reading “The 2020 Manatees: Written Companion”