Nights into Dreams
Okay, so Nights into Dreams
isn't something that I played with other people, but its inclusion here should make one thing very clear: I'm a romantic fool. The basic gameplay of flying with precision and speed was totally enthralling, but what really sold Nights
for me was its emotional heart. Interwoven among the vibrant dreamscapes of its levels, Nights
told a story of young love. Elliot and Claris were destined for one another, and the simple, wordless cutscenes tell that story beautifully. It's completely innocent and perfectly sweet. I should probably add that I later married my high school sweetheart.
Furthermore, the moment when you learn to fly without Nights' help is one of the most moving experiences I've ever had in a video game. It's games like Nights
that have firmly solidified the Sega Saturn as one of my favorite consoles of all time.
And, even now, the a capella version
of "Dreams Dreams," which can be found on the limited release of Christmas Nights
, still makes me weepy.Saturn Bomberman
If you want the ultimate, completely accessible and utterly customizeable party game, you will never do any better than Saturn Bomberman
. At least, that has been my experience. If, like me, you have a mix of friends, some who play video games and some who don't, Saturn Bomberman
will satisfy both. It is, in many ways, a fast-moving board game anyway, and the mix of power-ups and in-level gadgets makes for an endless combination of fiery death traps. If things get overly complex, you can turn off certain items until the less game-inclined guests get the hang of things. I know some purists detest the dinosaurs, which give you bonus abilities, but I can't imagine Bomberman without them.
I don't think I've gotten more local multiplayer mileage out of any other game. Saturn Bomberman
is nearly 20 years old now, but if you have a multitap and some controllers, it's still worth breaking out. I suddenly feel like planning a party ...The Legend of Zelda 2: Adventure of Link
I've made no secret of my love for The Legend of Zelda 2: Adventure of Link
. To this day I will defend it as my favorite Zelda game, and for all the reasons I've laid out in the past. I love the swordplay, the free-form exploration, the cryptic hints. I love it for another reason though, and that is for the memories I have of playing it with my brother and my dad. My dad never played many video games with us, but he still enjoyed watching. Through the many hours I put into Zelda 2
, Dad would watch and, much to my surprise, he began to know it better than I did.
I'll never forget the time that I was making my way through the godawful Death Mountain labyrinth. It's a very tough stretch in the game, and dying too many times means starting over from the beginning. My father had watched me try (and fail) to make it all the way through and, on my second attempt, he told me I was heading in the wrong direction. Assuming the role of video game expert, I assured him I was going the right way.
You guessed it, I wasn't.Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance 1 and 2
I've never played the original Baldur's Gate games, and I don't really care to, but I played lots
of the Dark Alliance games on the original Xbox. In college, my future wife and I plowed through both games like hell was at our heels. She was the monk to my necromancer, and we had a blast. We played a lot of dungeon crawlers together, including favorites like Hunter: The Reckoning
and even the GameCube version Phantasy Star Online
.Silent Hill 2
Another single-player game that was enhanced by the people I played it with. I first played this with my girlfriend (again, future wife) and we were both drawn in by Silent Hill 2
's disturbing story and characters. What's remarkable about Silent Hill as a series and Silent Hill 2
in particular, is how much is left up to you. It doesn't neatly fill in every blank, content to let your mind wander to places infinitely more horrifying than its unsettling world of rust and decay.Silent Hill 2
started something of a horror game tradition for us. Horror games tend to have the best writing, and the most tension, which makes them nearly as much fun to watch as they are to play. As the years went by, we would play more horror games together, particularly the Silent Hill and Fatal Frame series. I think my other personal favorite is probably Fatal Frame 2
, though I'll always have a soft spot for Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
I have a Japanese copy of Fatal Frame 4
, and I've even installed the English translation patch
, so that it's completely playable on an un-modded North American Wii. I had meant to finally finish it and write about it for Joystiq this year, but it looks like that's not in the cards. Maybe it's time to revive a tradition.Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo
The intense Puzzle Fighter
rivalry between my wife and me will never diminish. The flame will burn forever. Puzzle Fighter
is, in my opinion, the best puzzle game ever designed. It's another reason that there will always be a Sega Saturn in my house.Virtua Fighter 2Virtua Fighter 2
is a game that I mostly played by myself. I occasionally played with friends, but since I was the only person who owned the game, I got a lot
more practice. Suffice it to say that most of my friends eventually wanted to play something else. I was obsessed with VF2
, both at home and in the arcade. In particular, I loved Lion's praying mantis style, so much so that I became determined to take up the martial art myself. Surprisingly, there aren't a lot of praying mantis kung fu schools in Tulsa, but my mom just happened to know a friend who took Aikido classes.
Six years later, I was a second degree black belt, hence my online moniker, SenseiRAM (Sensei Richard Aaron Mitchell). As an added bonus, Sega went on to include an Aikido practitioner in Virtua Fighter 3
, named Aoi. Jacky is probably still my best character though.
Finally, since I don't know where else to put this, I once cleared the arcade mode of the Sega Saturn version of Virtua Fighter 2
in two and a half minutes. Jacky was a monster. It's also worth pointing out that the advent of online play has ruined
my self-perception when it comes to fighting games. After all the virtual beatings I gave my friends, I guess I deserve that.
Also, I may
have had a mix CD with Akira's theme
on it. Maybe.Halo: Combat Evolved
I've played though Halo
so many times it's practically muscle memory by now, most of those memories involving me foolhardily rushing at Elites and bashing them in the face. Halo
's co-op campaign was the perfect way to wile away a holiday with friends and family, mowing down Covenant as our stomachs went to work digesting inadvisable amounts of turkey.Super Smash Bros. Melee
One summer home from college, after I had turned 21, I threw a party at my parent's house. It was wild. There was beer. People I didn't know started to show up. Someone, somewhere, was smoking pot. But me, I was in it for the Smash Brothers Melee
tournament I had set up with my geekiest friends.
I lost, and it sucked. I blame the beer. But man, if Melee
isn't responsible for some of the best times I've ever had playing a video game. From the bitter defeats to the glorious wins, it's magic from front to back. And please, turn on the items. If you can't have victory snatched from you by a surprise Pokeball, it's not Smash
Also, I've never told my parents about that party. Shhhhhhh
Specifically, I'm talking about TowerFall Ascension - Joystiq GDC 2014 Edition
. For the rest of time. My heartfelt thanks to every person who holds Joystiq in their hearts. We shaped it into the best thing we could imagine. It can never be replaced, and my love for it can never be fully expressed.
[Images: Konami, Microsoft, Matt Thorson, Nintendo, Sega, Capcom, Interplay]