My Top 100 Video Games

Video games have always been a passion of mine. I was a game journalist for 8 years, from 1999 to 2007. Then I went on to make a few WWE video games at THQ. I’ve owned a lot of consoles and literally thousands of games. Back in November of 2009, I compiled a Top 100 Games list.

Years later, I still play games constantly and keep up with the industry. I’ve always had it in the back of my mind to do another list. After all, the PS3/360 generation was one of the best, and the current gen is no slouch either. To spice things up a bit, I decided to lift my rule only allowing one title per franchise. But I still need to have played a lot of any game that makes my list, which means there are some so-called shoo-ins that I couldn’t add.

Comment with your own Top 10, or harass me about something you feel deserved a spot. Or get mad at me for starting with number 100 instead of number 1. I will happily (and respectfully) engage. And maybe let me know if you’d like to see me put some capacity of it into a video.

If you enjoy my writing and want to see more, please consider one of my three published offerings on Amazon.

Note: I scoured the Internet for these screenshots. The majority came from MobyGames.com, a great resources for information on any and all video games.

100. Dig Dug

100_Dig-Dug_Moby1983, TI-99/4a by Namco
Previous Rank: 67

Let’s start out my list with an obscure port of a classic. Like most in its era, Dig Dug levels featured a single screen. But you were free to explore every inch of that screen, provided you could pop the baddies before they killed you. The cat-and-mouse gameplay is very satisfying with both sides having vulnerabilities. I played this a ton on my TI computer as a kid, chasing the Guinness Book high score. Continue reading

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2015: My Year in Gaming

Every year, I like to look back upon the games I played. While I’m getting pretty far removed from my time covering then working in the game industry, games are still a big thing to me.

In 2015, I played 86 video games: 44 on PlayStation platforms, 25 on Apple devices, 14 on 3DS, 1 on Wii and 1 on PC. I’m not going to list them. I hope you don’t mind.

I completed 22 video games in 2015. Those I will list, in the order in which they were completed: Continue reading

Sucky Sony Customer Support

In the latest console wars, I chose PlayStation 4. Late last gen, my PS3 was the preferred gaming device (PS+ and my 360’s loud-ass fan were contributing factors), and their first-party stuff interests me more. So when they went on sale at Target in December of 2014, I bought one. Had I known what kind of customer support I was going to receive, I may have bought a different console.

Playing Bloodborne (an awesome game), I noticed at times my character stuttered when I was pressing up on the left analog stick. It was intermittent so didn’t really bother me. However, the issue kept getting worse. And as I was getting further in the game, those hiccups became costly. Then it became noticeable in Batman: Arkham Knight (another awesome game).

bloodborne

Great game (as long as you can move up)

I had no choice but to contact support. After all, new controllers are freaking $60 – the price of a big-budget, new-release game – and I’d only had mine for about 8 months. And some Googling showed that it was a very common problem, so I assumed Sony was well-equipped to fix their faulty hardware. Continue reading

10 Games I Loved With Predecessors I Didn’t

Sequels aren’t just commonplace in video games; they’re practically the standard. More now than ever, new ideas are risky so developers stick to well-worn themes and franchises to give them the best chance at keeping the lights on. The results are often disappointing, however. Going to the well multiple times, one may find the well dried up. At times, new teams are brought in who struggle to keep up with the vision of previous games, much less surpass them.

However, there are some games that completely overshadow their predecessors. They fix whatever was wrong or add tweaks to perfect the formula. These are the games I want to shine light on in this article. These are some of my all-time favorites, which are sequels to games I played but didn’t get into for whatever reason – be it design flaws or my impatience. Continue reading

Genre Awards – Fighting Games

Game journalism is full of lists: the best games of the year; the best games on a system; the best games of all time. It’s all been done. I decided to look back and pick the best games in particular genres (action, FPS, extreme sports, etc.). I have put together about 27 genres, and awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze metals to what I think are the best in the category. You are free to disagree – and you likely will. Everyone’s experience and list of games-played is different.
Fighting games are the first genre, because it’s the first one I started thinking about. These usually entail two combatants squaring off one-on-one in an epic battle to empty your opponent’s life bar, and then maybe eat their body and spit out the bones. I’ve always been fascinated by fighting games. They always had great graphics – only needing to put two characters onscreen. They had detailed controls with lots of moves to discover. They have a bit of a cathartic quality, though I’ve never found them anywhere near real martial arts.
I recall playing Street Fighter II: Championship Edition at an arcade during the Wisconsin State Fair. People were huddled around. When I got my chance to play, I chose sumo master E. Honda and basically spammed his hundred-hand slap move repeatedly. I picked up Street Fighter II along with my SNES, and spent countless hours becoming proficient with each person. My girlfriend and I would play Mortal Kombat II on that same SNES, cheat sheet in front of us, to witness all the Fatality moves. The Wisconsin State Fair is also where I later saw Tekken 2, with its realistic moves and beautiful polygonal characters. It spurred me to buy a PlayStation, though Tekken 2 wouldn’t come out for it for several months. Oddly, none of those games I just mentioned made the cut. So, without further ado, here are the 3 Best Fighting Games!


BRONZE: Super Smash Bros. Melee (2001, Nintendo, GameCube)
This is not your typical fighting game. First off, it features cutesy characters known for platforming and kart-racing. Secondly, it’s not one-on-one. It’s a free-for-all of famous faces, all trying to toss each other into the abyss. The 25 characters – Mario, Link, Samus, Kirby, Pikachu – each bring their unique personality, though the gameplay is super simple to grasp. This means anyone who’s held a controller can join in on the highly customizable multiplayer and not feel in over their head.
Or, if you’re fighting solo, there’s an extremely varied Adventure mode which always keeps you guessing – thus avoiding the repetitiveness that plagues many fighting games. The extensive stat-tracking will show just how much you played, along with your win/loss record and hit percentages. Another bonus are the little “titles” you’re given after fights, to denote special performances (which I stole for WWE SVR 2009‘s Season mode). Its Wii sequel may have includes some improvements, but Melee hits a sweet spot of advances and nostalgia that make it the best of the series, one of the best GameCube games, and the Bronze winner for the Fighting-Game category. Also, it had a gumball machine with like a million Nintendo-themed trophies in it.


SILVER: Soulcalibur (1999, Namco, Dreamcast)
Starting with Soul Edge (Soul Blade on PlayStation) in 1996, this series was easy to pawn off as Tekken with weapons. After all, both came from Namco. Soulcalibur blew away its muse – and every other fighting game – when it launched with Sega’s Dreamcast. Never before had we seen such beauty and smoothness in a 3D fighting game. I could sit there and watch the characters do their specific katas forever. Maxi was my guy, being a big nunchuk fan. Voldo was dope, too, with his S&M outfits and trident daggers. But whomever you choose, you get both fantasy and realistic moves that were approachable for button-mashers, but deep enough to reward patient players. Mission Mode opened up a variety of tasks and valuable rewards. Maybe you were the man in Arcade Mode, but could you win when poisoned? What if the opponent is invisible – only their weapon showing? What about if you can only cause damage when your opponent is off the ground?
I kind of lost track of the Soulcalibur series over the years. I don’t even own the fifth iteration. Like many fighting franchises, it seemed to only make miniscule advancements from version to version. And I’ve learned that I tend to not play enough of fighting and racing games to get my money’s worth. Evidence: I own the latest Mortal Kombat and it’s still sealed on my shelf. But I digress. Onto…


GOLD: Street Fighter Alpha 3 (1999, Capcom, PlayStation)
Street Fighter is the grand-daddy of fighting games, and Alpha 3 is by far its best showing. Alpha was originally a kind of prequel to Street Fighter II, with the characters being younger and using a slightly softer art style. But Alpha 3 throws basically everything from every previous game into it, along with a ton of new material. I’m talking over 35 characters, three “isms” that alter your playing style, the ability to take on multiple opponents onscreen at once… The list goes on.
Reading the above entries, you can tell I’m a big fan of unique single-player modes. Of course SFA3 has that. World Tour mode gives you new challenges and twists (vs. 2 Sagats?!), all the while awarding you experience and boosts like air guard or resisting dizziness. The boosts really allow you to tailor your character to your play style, and basically ensure everyone’s character – even if outwardly the same – turns out differently. I loved World Tour mode. I’m pretty sure I played all the way through it with a half-dozen fighters – including of course the aforementioned E. Honda.
I also adored Survival mode. Because the game allowed you to fight multiple adversaries at once, these were simply insane and intense. There’s a huge beat-my-score dynamic, which would have been that much better had online leaderboards been around at the time. Oh well. Maybe we’ll see an HD remake of it for download? It’s worth noting I’ve played just about every other port of the game – Dreamcast, PSP, GBA – and they were all well done. Of course, the PSP’s d-pad will give you one hell of a thumb callus. But after causing so much damage to computer enemies, it’s a small price to pay. Street Fighter Alpha 3 is easily my pick for Best Fighting Game. A winner is you!