Culix's Top 25 Games of All Time
by Culix

25-21 | 20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-1 |

25. Fire Emblem

Ah, the strategy-RPG. The charm of a normal RPG, zoomed out to encompass an entire army. And the GBAf's Fire Emblem stands as one of the genre's finest examples. The game even has something beyond the basic gameplay, music, and plot to please me: the numbers. By Jebus, the quantity of numbers and other information the game lets one know. The munchkin and mathematician in me just get together and go to town in... every game of this series, really. The subsequent crazy amount of time they take me to finish is probably their only major flaw. Of course, such attention to detail isn't really a bad thing, given Fire Emblem's notoriously unforgiving stance on character deaths: a visit to 0 HP is a one-way ticket out of the game. Jebus, the number of times my completionist side has made me redo an entire damn mission after the non-Swordsman enemy happened to get a double critical...

But to the game itself. This was my first Fire Emblem, and the second member of the series to include Support Conversations, one of the additions I like the most. It just seems very nice to learn more about the characters, and give handy bonuses to the two conversing individuals whenever they fight near each other. The dialogue was very solid and the story told well throughout. While the tutorial chapters might have been a little slow, it was nice to see them involved with the plot, at least, and they were a great introduction to how the game would be. For instance, I remember a Cavalier named Kent going down when I was careless. Fortunately, since it was the tutorial, he just stayed wounded for the rest of Lyn's intro, and he was back in fighting form for the rest of the game. One thing I've always wondered, though, is why in God's name the lucky mook with Kent at his mercy didn't finish the job. ... And this is odd, since I've seen countless RPG villains essentially push the heroes down, make a snarky comment, and leave, and rarely given it an ounce of thought. Ah, well. Maybe the random bandit was just copying one of his idols and didn't realize you need to actually have a name and dialogue to pull it off. Good old Fire Emblem...

24. Harvest Moon 64

The Harvest Moon games have got to be the most inexplicably successful series I've ever heard of. I mean, you simulate farming for two and a half years or so. That shouldn't be fun, right? I'm still really not sure why it is. Maybe it's just my optimizing nature, wanting to get as much profit out of the fields and livestock as possible by buying the right seeds, picking the right crop arrangements, hell, even wooing the chick who worked the bar, so that I didn't have to spend time visiting with her that I could use to harvest crops before the shipper showed up. Really, that last one's just a bonus, since the original's Eve, and especially 64's Karen always seemed their game's coolest prospective honey (A Wonderful Life's Muffie gets to skip this treatment, since I'm convinced winning her means "winning" all the STDs she's accrued). That you were actually able to seek a girlfriend really just seemed an awesome feature to me. But oh, the memories of that shipper... I can't count how many times he showed up the instant before I could chuck something in. Why, oh why, wouldn't he just take it? Does he hate me? 'Cause that's the only reason that makes any sense for denying himself money just to keep me from making any more.

I can't say exactly what it is about the first two games that made me enjoy them (something about switching to fewer but longer days, and a few other details kind of put me off of A Wonderful Life). But they each gave a great experience. I'm listing 64 instead of the original mainly because it was just... better in every meaningful way. It had more things to do, the ability to play beyond the game's end, and the feeling that there's an actual community sharing the game world instead of a few people who do their job when you ask them to and never budge otherwise. It was kind of an investment, so I don't know if I'll ever play it again, but it's definitely earned a spot on this list.

23. Live-A-Live

I imagine there's a certain amount of obscure game know-how among the kinds of people who visit (unless looking for, say, Relm hentai), but I get the feeling this one's missing from a good number of those knowledge bases. The gist of this one is that you get to play various, mostly unconnected mini-RPGs (all fall well below the ten hour mark) set throughout the ages, to be tackled in any order. This is especially cool, since it contains settings that few, if any, RPGs have tackled, including the stone age, feudal Japan, a ship in deep space, and even a Western (as portrayed in... Westerns). Pretty much every game has its own gimmick, too, from using no spoken dialogue to tell the cave person story, to tracking kills and 'vanishing' during the ninja's mission, to using a fighting game's select screen in a martial artist's quest. And after all those scenarios are finished, you're not done yet. Since so many probably haven't played this, I don't want to spoil exactly what happens, but I was genuinely shocked and wowed in a way few others games have managed to do.

Really, there's not much else I can say without spoiling it or being overly general. The battle system's unique and works rather well; it's refreshing to start off every fight at full health and to worry about the timing of your attacks instead of MP. None of the plots are terribly deep, but they do their jobs and don't really get angsty, so no problems there. The kid and dad make me feel like a bad person for eventually laughing at their recurring pain. And, even if all those reasons somehow aren't good enough, there's a point in the game when you can get the best set of combat choices ever: Fight / Technique / Item / Armageddon.

22. Kirby's Adventure

Kirby got his start in Kirby's Dreamland, where he could fly and swallow almost everything, but this is probably the game that defined him. This game gave the distinct coloration, but more importantly it introduced that Copy ability of his. Because of that, Kirby just had an insane number of ways to kill off his enemies, and your method of choice could easily change by the minute. I can't think of a video game character from this era that had nearly as many options. And pretty much all of them were a lot of fun to play around with. There was a sense of wonder when it wasn't clear what something would give you, like those damn sleepy things or the awesome UFO, and I know I'd always smile when the word 'Mix' popped up. The bosses were fairly unique, and I often wished there was some way to take them on other than playing up to their point from the beginning. Not that that takes very long; the game is really, really short. But I can't complain about their cramming so much fun into the space. Even the mini-games have their charm, whether trying to snag the morbidly obese Kirby in the Crane Game, or watching the little guy blow away old west versions of his enemies in Quickdraw.

This is just an incredibly fun game, and the Virtual Console has shown me that's not just the nostalgia talking.

21. Sonic 3 & Knuckles

I was having trouble deciding between putting Sonic 3 or Sonic & Knuckles on this list. So, thank Jebus that 'lock-on technology' thing cut the Gordian knot for me. Anyway, ah, the classic Genesis days of Sonic... Back when the gameplay was focused on the speed... It was the kind of fast-paced experience that still makes me so happy to be a gamer. At times, it feels like you're only half aware of what's going on, things are blazing by so fast, and that's a feeling I haven't had in ages.

It was also great co-op fun. While Sonic 2 introduced Tails for the 2P, Sonic 3 actually let that player fly the fox around, and in a stroke of genius, let him pick up Sonic so that both characters could fly to different parts of the Acts. It's a shame the 'lock-on technology' never cropped up elsewhere, as getting to use Knuckles in Sonic 2 and Sonic 3, and especially getting co-op in Sonic & Knuckles, was pretty damn snazzy. There was so much fun to be had, playing Sonic 3 & Knuckles from start to finish with friends. The last Zone and set of boss battles are definitely my favorite end-game period from any Sonic game and almost any platformer. A shame that this was the hedgehog's last great outing, but at least it was one hell of a showstopper.

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