Top Games of the Years – 31 Days Challenge

A while ago I did one of those “30 Day Challenge” type posts where you had to fill in a new entry each day relating to your subject of choice. Mine was to do with video games and I really enjoyed it so I thought it’s about time for another.
Each day I’ll be coming back to do Top Games of the Years!
It’s one game from each year it was released regardless of when you actually played it (as I was born in 1993) and it has to be a particular entry, not a series.
I’d love to hear yours too so play along each day!

1990 – The Secret of Monkey Island

One of the earliest video games I ever played was The Secret of Monkey Island by Lucasarts when they made some of the best adventure games on the market and that was on the legendary floppy disc.
It was this really well though out adventure game that is set around a young man, Guybrush Threepwood, who want’s to become a pirate on Melee Island. However, to do that he must first prove himself in the “Three Trials”, which consist of various challenges to do with different aspects of piracy. However, there is a looming threat that all pirates fear, the haunting LeChuck!
That theme tune too brings back so many good memories…
It has a very primitive, yet oddly satisfying, control system where you must input your commands individually making sentences such as “walk to – bar. Talk to – mean looking pirate. Mix – fish – with poisonous plants”. I enjoyed figuring out all the puzzles and laughing at the fourth wall breaking humour.
If you’re a fan of adventure games I’d definitely recommend it. Also, if it’s a bit dated for you there is a Special Edition which enhances the gameplay, graphics and provides voice acting.

1991 – Monkey Island 2: Lechuck’s Revenge

Since I never got into the early video game consoles like Atari, anything by Nintendo, my first console being the PlayStation 1, I missed out on all the famous classics growing up like Castlevania, Final Fantasy and Sonic. Instead my favourite, and close to only, game from 1991 is the sequel to the previous years, Monkey Island 2: Lechuck’s Revenge.
It features the same gameplay and style as the first game but just changes the story, new characters and amazing scenery to explore.
This entry gives you back control of Guybrush who is a few years older and has made his dream of being a pirate a reality! From the beginning his inventory is full of gold, top of the line weaponry and all the jewels he can carry. Unfortunately he is assaulted by another pirate (who really scared me) and he holds Guybrush over a swamp and empties his pockets causing him to lose his built up fortune and to start again from square one. But he isn’t the only threat when it’s revealed an old enemy is making a comeback…
Like The Secret of Monkey Island it too has a special edition which enhances the game to allow newcomers to try it out without feeling the dated nature. A must for adventure game fans!

1992 – Alone in the Dark

Alone in the Dark has always been considered as the grandfather of survival horror games which inspired and paved the way for more well known series like Resident Evil and Silent Hill. All modern survival horror games owe their roots to this series and it’s debut title was actually really, really good.
The story begins when you are informed of the death of an artist who committed suicide yet it seems to not shock anyone as they all know the house is haunted. You assume the role of one of two characters who have gone to the mansion in order to find a piano. Edward is helping an antique dealer while Emily believes that it contains a note on why Jeremy Hartwood took his own life. However once they make their way to the attic it’s clear there’s not going to be an easy way out.
This game is the classic haunted house adventure game that really plays on the tropes that make the theme memorable while adding in it’s own creations that fill the mansion with a constant sense of dread and fear. Zombies clambering through the corridors, ghosts, hideous monsters and ghouls haunting rooms, paintings that will try and kill you. There are so many enemies in this game you have to be very careful on what you do. You will most likely die a lot while you’re solving puzzles and fighting the residents so it will be very trial and error but the deeper you go the more interesting it gets.

1993 – DOOM

This is an odd year for me because I went through a lot of games that were released but couldn’t find one that actually meant much to me as I’d have liked. There were a few good ones sure but I hadn’t really played any of them so this is a tough year which is even more off given this is the year I was born. Unlucky…
But I’d say out of all of them DOOM would probably be most prominant. I’ve never finished the original DOOM but I like different aspects about it. It gave way for many shooters we have today, obviously including the reboot and it’s sequel which I liked a lot, the hellish and grotesque scenery, the interesting monsters and the fun, give no shits gunplay which is brutal. Add to that the always growing list of mods being created for it even to this day you really have a game that is a classic, beloved and stands the test of time. Very impressive.

1994 – Policenauts

One of Hideo Kojima’s early works before he made it huge with Metal Gear.
After an accident at a space colony he works at, Jonathan is put into cryosleep and lost to space for 24 years, he is finally rescued and tries to get back to a normal life in L.A. Becoming a detective he finds himself returning to the colony to investigate the murder of his ex-wife and the disappearance of her husband which all seems linked to some kind of black market organ trading business.
It is a graphic adventure game in the style of a point and click visual novel that see’s you interact with various characters, piece together clues and even has segments where you use your gun to fight enemies.
I’ve never actually finished it but I’ve played a good chunk to which I was really impressed. The locations all seem really interesting, the characters are enjoyable, the whole world and lore is so in depth and immersive and the music really completes the scenes. It’s funny how you can see different characters in Policenauts who gave inspiration to characters in Metal Gear years later.

1995 – Destruction Derby

Those good old days when the way to discover and test new games was done through those little demo discs you got with PlayStation magazines. Never bought one but somehow ended up with a stack of demo discs which was great, it gave me a chance to play snippets of games I’d never have thought about at the time. Destruction Derby is one of those and was always so fun to play. The early days of playing anything you had because you couldn’t afford anything else I had some racing games which were alright but add some destruction and you got a game that immediately hooked me. Racing around a track and slamming against other cars, watching the sparks and metal fly or just having a smash-em-up derby in that destructive bowl. Great, great memories with this game especially after I managed to play the full game. I’ve never been a fan of racing game but these types are definitely an exception.

1996 – Die Hard Trilogy

Now we’re coming into the times when it’s gonna start getting a little harder to find my favourite game from that year as the PlayStation is making more strides. The two very close runners up are Crash Bandicoot and Resident Evil but I feel like I have a more sentimental connection to Die Hard Trilogy, a collection of games based upon the exploits of John McClane in the 80’s-90’s action movies before they started to get cheap and not as good.
You play as John McClane in all three games but they play out very differently. The first game has you exploring Nakatomi Plaza, killing bad guys, rescuing hostages and ending each level with finding a bomb. It was tense, scary and more often than not you panic finding the bomb. The second game has McClane at the airport in an on the rails shooter type game which was my favourite of the three. And lastly the third game had him in a car with Samuel L. Jackson’s character as you raced around the city trying to defuse bombs and get the enemies. They all played out so differently, had their own set of challenges and were so fun and well thought out if not clunky for todays standards.
The reason this one is always remembered by me is that I got it for Christmas many, many years ago from my parents as I started getting into video games and they knew I liked those movies. I also got a Star Wars game (which may appear later depending) from my aunt who has sadly passed on. So I just remember that time opening both those games and loving them so much that they remain a big part of my childhood.

1997 – Final Fantasy VII

To anyone who knows me it should come as no surprise that the one and only title for 1997 on this list would always have been the amazing Final Fantasy VII that still continues to astound the gaming world to this day. While it wasn’t the first Final Fantasy game I started with, it was the one that made a huge impact with it’s story, it’s world, it’s amazing characters and of course the soundtrack that makes it so remarkable.
Cloud, an Ex-Soldier, becomes a mercenary and joins up with a group of eco-terrorists in order to take down the Shin-Ra corporation who they claim are stealing the planet’s lifeblood. However, the deeper they go into their cause they begin to open up old wounds from the past and are setting themselves up on a mission to save the world from a great, long feared threat.
There’s so much I could say about this game but I feel like everyone already knows so much about this game already so I’ll keep it short and sweet. You know, you love it, you’ve experienced it. A truly great title.

1998 – Metal Gear Solid

Much like the previous year, this will come as no surprise to people who know me. Metal Gear Solid will always remain one of my all time favourite games due to how well it was made, how exciting the story was, how emotional the characters were made to be and how complex the real world messages were.
Solid Snake has been forced out of retirement for another mission where a nuclear warhead storage facility was overtaken by a terrorist group demanding money and the remains of a legendary soldier. While Snake goes in believing it to be another simple mission, take down the terrorists, he discovers so much more about who they are, who he is and how their pasts are intertwined.
Hideo Kojima really upped the bar on not just stealth games, but games in general by putting such a well written story in with greatly acted characters voiced by some legendary talent. The environments were really interesting to explore, the music was tense and haunting, the art style was really impressive and the fourth wall breaking humour was actually really stylish and fit in so well.
Metal Gear Solid – The Big Boss of the PlayStation, I salute you!

1999 – Final Fantasy VIII

This was the toughest year for me to choose because it contained two games that I really hold close to my heart which made it so difficult to decide which one should be on this list. However, after a little deliberation I have decided that it should be Final Fantasy VIII. The runner up was Dino Crisis so let’s give that one a round of applause!
Final Fantasy VIII is a story of a young mercenary cadet who, due his own past, tends to stay away from people and take life seriously. Being thrust into battles across the globe, he and his team start to uncover a threat looming from the stars that seems long forgotten. However, they begin to discover much more about who they are and what they are fighting for.
I always find this one highly underrated because it doesn’t do what previous games did and therefor people didn’t seem to enjoy it as much but I think all the improvements they made were great. There’s no class system, you draw magic from enemies, you don’t use MP as you have a set number of magic spells and enemies get tougher the more you level up. Along with the junction system this made one of the best JRPG’s I’ve ever played.
The story is fantastic and emotional, the world is strange but beautiful with it’s dark moments, the music is one of the greatest soundtracks I’ve ever heard and the characters immerse you into their lives.
Growing up I wasn’t very popular, got bullied and as such developed social anxiety and wanted to stay away from people. Having a character who seems to feel like I did added a connection in that I felt very similar to him and it helped me throughout my childhood. It’s a game that will always be a part of me.

2000 – Medal of Honour: Underground

Back when my uncle gave me my first PlayStation 1 (or I should say European PS1, my other uncle gave me a Japanese console at first), I had a small handful of games to go along with it. Final Fantasy VIII, Dino Crisis and Medal of Honour Underground. It was an entirely new experience for me as it was essentially the first game I played that wasn’t a platformer or fighter game, it was an immersive, first-person shooter game that put you into the shoes of a a young resistance fighter in one of Europe’s darkest times.
As Manon, you help take down the Nazi war effort in various locations across the world, eventually taking you back to France to help the liberation and avenge your brother Jaques.
It was dark and oftentimes scary. The loading of the levels meant you couldn’t see much farther ahead of you, enemies were waiting to jump out of nowhere and the soundtrack gave really ominous and chilling vibes. While the controls now would be seen as extremely limited and clunky, also given that analogue sticks weren’t around yet, it’s still a great game to play if you haven’t.
What’s odd about this game though is that there are levels I remember where you fight animatronic, nutcracker-like toy soldiers…

2001 – Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

Another very, very difficult choice between this and Silent Hill 2, a game that also holds some good memories for me with my brother. But alas, I have played and appreciated MGS2 more and have put much more time and effort into it so it seems the obvious choice.
This was quite a surprise to me that it actually existed if I’m honest. After I completed Metal Gear Solid I though that was it, I never even dreamed it would span into a massive and iconic series as it has today. I was in the Metro Centre (a shopping mall) in Newcastle when I looked inside a game shop and there it was in the preowned section. I had to do a double take because it looked so good and I couldn’t believe there was a continuation to one of my favourite games. So I convinced my parents to buy it for me, as I was probably around 11 or 12 I think, and I took it home and it blew me away.
After the supposed death of Solid Snake who was now being blamed for the terrorist attack on a United States Marine tanker, a new Foxhound agent, Raiden, must investigate a terrorist incident at a clean up facility Big Shell. They have hostages, they have the president and they are demanding a lot of money. Raiden never thought that this mission would turn into a nightmare when his past is revealed to him, his life becomes a lie and ones he thought he could trust ruin that illusion.
We all remember how simple the game was for the most part with it’s interest yet slightly confusing story, then it suddenly fucking hits you in the face with malfunctioning AI causing your game to go nuts, the Colonel spouting all kinds of nonsense, Japanese ladies appearing on your codec, running around naked in some kind of virtual facility and the slap in the face of being told that humans aren’t capable of looking after themselves because they’re so useless.
It was a complete mindfuck of a game and that’s what makes it so great.

2002 – Ratchet and Clank

This one appeared one day and instantly became a classic for me. It’s got a fun world, some really great gadgets, hilarious characters and the gameplay is just so, so enjoyable. From this spawned a great series and I can’t wait to be able to play the latest one when I’m able to grab a PS5.
Clank crash lands on a planet after escaping from his evil masters and finds a friendly Lombax mechanic named Ratchet. The two discover that they are wanted men now and there’s a threat looming that will destroy not just their world but many.
One of the best parts of these kinds for me is the collectables. You gotta collect all the bolts to afford the best weapons and gold bolts give you unlockable cheats as well as different outfits and game modes. Every level has something new to offer but I will say that I have been haunted (even on the PS4 remake) by the hoverboard races… Eugghhhh.

2003 – Silent Hill 3

Back in 2009 I had my own little gaming room. Well, it wasn’t exactly a room, more of the section under the stairs. Oddly my parents allowed me to clear it out, repaint it and move in my television, games, some blankets and have myself a little area I could play my games in peace. It was small and cramped but I remember it fondly. One of the games I remember buying in Blackpool and playing as soon as I got in which was Silent Hill 3.
The only problem with this whole situation was that the area under the stairs was in the porch which was dark and I could hear the wind and rain outside. Playing a horror game like Silent Hill on your own, in the dark, in a noisy porch and while your family is a few rooms away made it a very creepy experience. I didn’t play for the very long…
Heather Mason finds herself suddenly abducted into the nightmare that is Silent Hill when making her way home. Never did she imagine that this was the beginning of her journey of discovery about her birth, her family and her old life in the cursed and horror filled town.
The whole game was filled with grotesque monsters, thrilling story moments, creepy areas and a soundtrack that would frighten anyone. I personally loved the song “You’re Not Here”. Really was the highlight of the game.

2004 – Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

My thirteenth birthday was made so much better by my parents buying me Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. I knew a little about it after researching the series after Sons of Liberty but it was still really new to me. It wasn’t until I read the back that I discovered that you didn’t play as Solid Snake and that it wasn’t even continuing the story from the mysterious ending of 2. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying one of the greatest games ever made.
Snake Eater tells the origins of Big Boss, the legendary mercenary who must head deep into Soviet Russia during the height of political conflict that could end in a nuclear apocalypse. The mission, which he is forced to undertake, is to take down the terrorists, stop the threat of nuclear war and kill the person who made this all happen, his old mentor.
Utilizing a new camouflage system, having to watch your hunger levels and making your way undetected through the forests gave this game a new feeling within the stealth genre. It’s not just about not being seen it’s also about surviving. Having the origin of some of the most interesting characters in the series too really comes together to make this universe seem more fleshed out, understandable and emotional.

2005 – The Movies

This one feels like quite an odd one out on my list so far. We got survival horror, serious stealth games, action and narrative driven games. But now suddenly we got what would happen if you mixed the Sims with windows movie maker. It creates a game that is filled with memories and an almost unlimited flow of imagination.
You own and run your own movie studio from the it’s beginning in the 1920’s all the way up to the present and beyond (I think) and in doing so you have to manage everything. Who your stars are, hiring your crew, building and maintaining different sets, managing stress levels, script writing, post production, PR. It’s all there and surprisingly easy to manage but difficult to keep at the top at all times. Eventually you do get to make your own movies instead of having them written for you and it’s some of the most fun times I’ve ever had with gaming.
What’s fun is that they also have yearly award shows so if you want your movie to win big then you gotta put in that effort and make sure your movie is the best that it can be!

2006 – Dead Rising

I didn’t play Dead Rising until it’s Nintendo Wii port but it’s essentially the same game just watered down. I did manage to play it when it was released on Steam years later however with a much better experience.
Well, what can I say about Dead Rising that hasn’t already been said. It’s like the dream of people who create zombie plans in their heads, it’s for fans of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and for anyone who wanted to go round a mall on their own and do whatever they want with no consequences.
Journalist Frank West heard reports that there is unrest in the small town of Willamette in Colorado so he decides to investigating hoping to get his big scoop. The military has quarantined the town yet there seems to be the perfect spot on the mall where a lot of people have gathered. Frank manages to make it to the mall where is discovers that not only has the town been taken over by thousands of flesh eating zombies, it’s the perfect chance to make it big with this story. He now has three days to uncover the truth and make it out alive.
The whole game being on a timer used to be something I disliked but looking back on it now I can see why it made the game great. It added a whole level of tension, you had to chose what was more worth your time, you had to chose who you could and couldn’t save and had to carefully plan your route round the gigantic mall in an effort to not waste your precious minutes.
It’s a great game that I think started a great series.

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