100 Games to Play Before You Die
# 100 - 91
Ultimately we're all digital dust, so what do we do with the precious little time we have on this planet? Help cure a disease? Please. Volunteer for charity? Don’t make me laugh. Obviously, the correct response is “play video games.” I know what you’re thinking: “But Noble Eskimo, with such little time left, how do I know which titles are worthy?!” Fret not my chronologically deficient amigo! We've got you covered. We count down the top 100 games that you absolutely must play before it's game over.
I want to make clear this is not a “Best 100 Games of All Time” list. The games here were chosen based on a number of factors to determine which ones have best stood the test of time, made an industrial impact, have lasting significance, and most importantly, can be recommended to a terminal patient without further compromising their mortality. That said, please enjoy the countdown!
#100 - Rocket Knight Adventures (Genesis, 1993)
The ill-informed know only of the downloadable Rocket Knight title for PSN, XBLA, and Steam, but before the series managed to stumble into that steaming pile of mediocrity, it gracefully strolled side-by-side with the legends of the action-platformer genre. Rocket Knight Adventures was one of the first titles that truly unlocked the potential of mixed-genre games with its fluid, challenging platforming segments complimenting the intense and exhilarating 2D-shooter sequences.
#99 - Skull & Crossbones (NES, 1990)
Skull & Crossbones is ridiculously difficult and, frankly, kind of sucks. However, what it lacks in quality is made up for in controversy and outrageous awesomeness. Released smack-dab in the middle of the infamous Nintendo vs Tengen legal battle, this unlicensed title followed a pair of pirates named One-Eye and Red Dog on their journey to rescue the princess from the Dark Wizard, and by rescue, I reclaim their prized, *ahem*, 'booty.' The gameplay had you shooting rats and punching skeletons, and each time you did so, a bloody mess would shoot forth as if someone had tapped into great blood fountains of Numa Khabra. Forget Mortal Kombat; Skull & Crossbones was doing that gory song and dance years ahead of the fighting franchise, and on the family-friendly, supposedly blood-free NES, no less.
#98 - Night Trap (Sega CD, 1992)
Continuing the trend of shitty-yet-amazing titles, Night Trap stalks its way into the list at number 98. This unplayable piece of crap made waves in congress, being villainized along with Mortal Kombat and Doom as the downfall of Western civilization. From the ashes of such controversy arose the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB), which is now the omnipotent ratings organization of the industry. Night Trap in particular, however, got a huge amount of attention from anti-everything activist Joseph Lieberman and his entourage, calling the game "ultra-violent" and "disgusting," which led to its eventual removal from several store shelves. However, playing the game today makes it difficult to imagine that anyone could ever take the "vampires-meet-soap-opera" seriously, especially considering homemade faux-suicide videos on Youtube look a thousand times more realistic. We've come a long way, baby.
#97 - Demon's Souls (Playstation 3, 2009)
If your mortality is on the fence and want your final playthrough to be on Very Hard difficulty, look no further than the PS3 gem Demon's Souls. Developer From Software did an outstanding job of creating an outrageously-difficult yet rarely-frustrating RPG experience that blends the best of old-school difficulty and modern-day advancements into one delicious package. In a world where a striking number of titles have devolved into "games that play themselves," Demon's Souls takes no prisoners, tearing the player apart from the very start until the bitter end. Completing this title yields a strong sense of reward, something that is missing from many modern titles.
#96 - Zen Bound 2 (Multi, 2010)
One of the few true gems to emerge from the mobile phone wasteland, Zen Bound 2 (and its predecessor, which is equally great) challenges the player to paint various objects by wrapping them in a limited amount of rope, and yes, I am aware of how silly this sentence makes the game sound. Very few games are less threatening than Zen Bound 2. It presents the player a unique atmosphere, providing a calming and thought-provoking approach to classic puzzle-solving. Before playing the title, I never thought I would be so enamored with wrapping a wooden dog in rope, but Zen Bound 2 manages to turn it into a profound experience. Congratulations, developer Secret Exit; you have invented the last possible genre in gaming.
#95 - Wii Sports (Wii, 2006)
If you still haven't played this Wii staple, you don't go to enough parties or have enough friends. The title is synonymous with Wii-Wagging and broken televisions, and although it has spawned an entire console generation of imitators, very few of them have actually been able to match the fun quotient you'll experience with Wii Tennis or Wii Baseball. While some may argue the Wii has failed the hardcore audience, you can't deny its ability to get in good with the ladies.
#94 - Smash TV (Arcade, 1990)
Forget Geometry Wars, Robotron 2084, and that stupid hidden game in CoD: Black Ops; Smash TV is the multi-directional shooter for REAL men. Essentially turning Stephen King's "The Running Man" into a video game, Smash TV and its quarter-destroying addictiveness was the go-to experience for thousands of arcade aficionados. There were console versions released, of course, but none of them came close to the brilliance of the twin-stick setup you'd find in a cabinet. The "violent game show" theme has been used in the videogame universe extensively (see Monday Night Combat for details) though to this day none of them have topped Smash TV when it comes to pure fun.
#93 - Albert Odyssey: Legend of Eldean (Saturn, 1997)
As the most underrated RPG of all time (in my opinion, of course), Albert Odyssey: Legend of Eldean combines an addictive battle system, detailed characters and a well-written story, all of which is wrapped neatly together and presented by the legendary crew of the now-defunct Working Designs. While AO:LoE doesn't quite reinvent the real, it is a testament that refinement over revolution is sometimes the best way to create a game.
#92 - Virtua Fighter 5 (Multi, 2007)
If you like your fighting games full of flash, pizzazz, explosions and screen-filling super lasers, then Virtua Fighter 5 is not for you. Alternately, if you enjoy your fighters full of depth, unique characters, real world-inspired martial arts and Australian fishermen named Jeffry, then you will love VF5. While many franchises drift towards the ridiculous, Virtua Fighter, like a delicious wine or that sandwich in my fridge, has only gotten better with time. Learning the plethora of moves available to each fighter is a daunting yet incredibly rewarding task. While many fighting games have lost sight of what made them great, Virtua Fighter stays true to itself and delivers a stellar product time and time again.
#91 - Quake II (PC, 1997)
There is an unbearable amount of first-person shooters on the market right now and more are constantly appearing, as if they are breeding with one-another, creating an unholy race of super-mediocrity that is enveloping the planet in its inferiority. Thankfully, I can always count on Quake II whenever I need a fix of quality multiplayer deathmatch. While other multiplayer games deceive players into thinking they're having fun by peppering them with a constant barrage of unlocks and experience points, Quake II stands apart as one of the few remaining earnestly enjoyable first-person franchises that hasn't succumbed to in-game bribery.