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100 Best PlayStation Games of All Time (100 – 81)

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Few companies outside of Nintendo can claim to have even a sliver of the effect on the gaming industry as electronics giant Sony has. Ever since the PlayStation emerged in the mid-90s as a dark horse console from a first time manufacturer, video games have never been the same.

In celebration of the 70th Anniversary of Sony two years ago, the crew here at Goomba Stomp put together a list of the top 70 Sony exclusive games of all time and now we are back to expand the list to a top 100!

Chances are if you’ve been playing PlayStation as long as we have, you’ll find a lot to love on this list, and if by chance you haven’t, well get ready to learn a thing or two. As voted by the writers and editors of Goomba Stomp, this is our definitive list of the 100 best PlayStation Games of All Time.

** Editor’s Note: In order to qualify, a game must have been first released exclusively on a Sony console for at least six months if not a year. In other words, don’t expect a game like Tomb Raider or Ade’s Odyssey to appear on this list since they were not exclusive to a Sony console when released.

  • Nominations for games released as of 11/28/2018

100 Best PlayStation Games of All Time

Best Playstation Games

100 – Dino Crisis

A spiritual spin-off to the classic Resident Evil formula, Dino Crisis takes the series’ tropes of survival horror, secret labs in the middle of nowhere, corporate conspiracies, unethical experiments gone wrong, and an 80s-style badass female protagonist, but changes the threat from slow-moving zombies to fast-paced Jurassic Park rip-off dinosaurs.

Tank controls and cheesy dialogue abound; Dino Crisis is everything you would want in a game of its kind. Despite not aging as well as its Resident Evil cousins on the PS1 – being bogged down by controls that never feel quite right and an imbalance in difficulty that feels more unoptimized than challenging – it’s still a charming romp.

The quicker Velociraptors are a lot more intelligent than an RE zombie, and a lot more vicious, requiring actual thought put into encounters than just a shot to the head, though at times in an unfair way. Borrowing from Resident Evil 3, with which the game shared a parallel development period, you’ll also be stalked by a T. Rex boss throughout the game, and it’s some true survival horror goodness. Not stopping there, you’ll come across other dinos, ranging from the miniature Compsognathus to the high-flying Pteranodons, all who seem to be pretty mad to be brought back from the dead.

Dino Crisis brings enough of its own unique elements to the table to distinguish it beyond just a Resident Evil with dinos. Plus, being one of the only dinosaur-themed survival horror games, it’s an experiment worth appreciating by fans of the classic style of that genre, especially on the PS1.

Dino Crisis feels like the start of a series that never quite happened, despite a couple of brief but futile attempts. Maybe one day, we’ll see Capcom revitalize the series, as there’s definitely some untapped potential here. (Maxwell N)

99 – ISS Pro Evolution

Time may have been unkind to Konami’s football franchise as its struggles under the financial might of EA and its loyal fanbase of official license-lovers, but in 1999 ISS Pro Evolution was the football game. A precursor to modern-day Pro Evolution Soccer, ISS Pro Evolution was the iteration to garner the moniker of ‘the thinking man’s football game’ that still rings true amongst the community for subsequent releases to this day.

The game boasted a number of important additions from all its predecessors too – most notably the inclusion of club teams. There weren’t very many to choose from at this early stage, and they represented the double-edged sword of only being playable in the new Master League mode. A limiting caveat to two staples of the PES universe that remain as limited as they are essential even in 2018.

It wasn’t just new modes and teams that made ISS Pro Evo so special, though, and with football games, it’s never enough to do all the proverbial talking off the pitch. The game was buttery smooth to play thanks to a host of new animations, and it was practically football in fast-forward compared to the meandering FIFA. Perhaps more significantly, at least in nostalgic terms, was the debut of the era’s latest edition into the footballing zeitgeist – the still-iconic free kick technique of Roberto Carlos that made playing as Brazil essential.

Having dropped jaws during the summer’s pre-World Cup warm up competition, the lary stance, Fred Flinstone runup, and thunderous with-the-laces drive was the poster child for the game’s marketing. Headlining commercials and plastered all over the back of the box, it’s the element the game that lingers longest in the memory. It’s the little things that count, eh? (Alex Aldridge)

Best Playstation Games

98 – Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves

The Sly trilogy was a remarkable achievement of its time. It took the 3D mascot-platformer, which dominated the early 2000’s, and added a unique edge by adding in the mechanics of a stealth game. Sly 2: Band of Thieves is arguably the best game in the series, but Honour Among Thieves was still ahead of its time. It took the mechanics and open world sandboxes of the second game, and added a cast of new playable characters. Sly 3 was about bringing a team together. By finding a new family, you came ever closer to the family you lost.

If Pokemon is baby’s first RPG, then Sly 3: Honour Among Thieves is baby’s first stealth game. You’ll try out the costumes/disguises you’d find in Hitman, the stalking and pickpocketing of Assassin’s Creed, the rooftop scrambling and love for the shadows that you’d need in Thief, and the abundance of gadgets and options popularized by the Dishonored series. Sly 3 is the reason I love stealth games, and if it wasn’t for Sony and Sucker Punch, many more kids would have grown up without love for this genre too. (Chris Bowring)

Best Playstation Games97 – Detroit: Become Human

When Quantic Dreams’ breakthrough title Heavy Rain hit stores back in 2010, “interactive drama” – as they loved to call it – was a bit of a niche within the gaming industry. But in the years since then, the genre has seen more success stories, from The Walking Dead to Life Is Strange, while Quantic Dreams’ own follow up to Heavy Rain – Beyond Two Souls – disappointed. Everyone else, it seems, was doing “interactive drama” a little better.

Detroit: Become Human is Quantic Dream doing what Quantic Dream does bestand worst – and it goes some way to righting their ship. Love them or hate them, nobody makes games quite like Quantic Dream. It’s a beautiful game – no other narrative focused adventure game on the market can compare – but it’s a little janky to play. It’s got an interesting premise but it’s nowhere near as clever as it thinks it is. It presents itself as high art but it’s a B-Movie at heart. And if you can live with all of that then you’ll likely have a good time.

Set in the near future in the titular Detroit, androids are a part of everyday life – working as cheap labor, butlers, and maids, and doing the dangerous jobs no human would want to do. Predictably, the androids become self-aware, and the humans are really surprised because apparently none of them have ever seen any of the countless movies and TV shows that have taught us that machines always, always turn on their masters.

Cue some heavy-handed allegories and allusions to social justice – seriously, the robots have to stand at the back of the bus – and a story that never quite manages live up to the potential of the premise, but one featuring surprisingly strong writing and performances, and some genuinely affecting scenes. (John Cal McCormick) Klonoa 2 Lunatea's Veil

96 – Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil

Released in 2001, Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil refined the art of 2.5-dimensional platforming that the developers of the original game, Klonoa: Door to Phantomile, strived for. Levels form complex interconnecting and twisting paths that allow the player to interact with the foreground and background long before Donkey Kong Country Returns incorporated the idea. It is a perfect example of how a few simple mechanics can be effectively established and elaborated on over the course of a (relatively short) game without ever becoming tiresome.

The story takes place in the dream world of Lunatea, where the holy bells of the four kingdoms are threatened by the rising chaos from a newly-forming bell. Our protagonist, Klonoa, and his friends must travel to each kingdom and purge the four bells of the evil that has overtaken them to restore order to the world. From the map, the player travels to new levels and occasionally revisits old ones that are dramatically changed as the game progresses. New areas have their own distinct visual style and themes, gradually incorporating new monsters and gameplay mechanics to keep things from getting stale.

Apart from the standard running and jumping controls, Klonoa can use his “Wind-Bullet” power to grab enemies, items, and parts of the environment to traverse the terrain. While holding certain enemies, the player can throw them to the ground to give Klonoa an extra jump or use them as a projectile, to be hurled at enemies or switches. Early sections of the game are fairly easy, but later bosses and areas such as Ishra’s Ark and the Maze of Memories feature punishing fights and more complex puzzles. What really makes this game so memorable is not is not just its excellent gameplay, but the sense of wonder and imagination it inspires in players. The imaginative world, amazing music, and feeling of adventure come together to make Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil the best 2D platformer on the PlayStation 2 and also one of the most unique experiences in gaming. (Matt Bruzzano)

HeavyRain

95 – Heavy Rain

Sony’s internal and external partners have always prioritized expanding the audience for games. Whether it was the relative openness of the PSX’s CD format or the recent focus on downloadable indie games, PlayStation is a brand that reaches in every direction to release games for more and different kinds of gamers.

It is easy to see why, then, Sony might sign with developers like Quantic Dream, whose output may not reach the critical and audience success of Uncharted, Killzone and Infamous, but nevertheless display a bravery and distinctiveness that goes far beyond quality.

Heavy Rain, the studio’s first PS3 title, came a few months after the release of Uncharted 2, and only weeks before the spring of God of War III, yet still managed to hold its own. Highly detailed characters and a focus on situations that usually have no place in video games brought a level of warmth and drama to what was basically an interactive thriller movie.

Although the “French-actors-trying-to-sound-American” voices and ropey facial animations don’t hold up as well as they did back in 2010, Heavy Rain pushed the boundaries of what the interactive medium has to offer and arguably laid the groundwork for today’s so-called “walking simulators” like Gone Home and Firewatch.

The game’s focus on aspects of life other than shooting and fighting (while still being a suspenseful thriller) is a refreshing change of pace from other blockbuster stories. Finally, like other media, Heavy Rain and its spiritual kin Indigo Prophecy have shown that scenes of pain and loss or heart-pounding action can have all the more impact when contrasted with the mundane.

The next time in a game that I have to wash the dishes or hold a button to hold my breath, I’ll definitely think of Heavy Rain. (Mitchell Akhurst)

Best Playstation Games

94 – Wipeout

Wipeout is a game that can sometimes be overlooked and not usually considered as distinguished or renowned as some other PlayStation racing titles such as Gran Turismo, Crash Team Racing and Driver, but there is no doubt that it has had a significant influence on the racing game genre as a whole.

Released in 1995, Wipeout, or wipE’out as it was styled, was one of the launch titles for the PlayStation in Europe. Developed by Liverpool based company Psygnosis, Wipeout received critical acclaim upon release. The game is set in the year 2052 and the player can race around seven different tracks based in countries around the world. The futuristic themes, contemporary techno music and general innovation of the game were all praised. You can tell that the team behind the artistic design drew upon other forms of media with futuristic themes, such as Blade Runner and Star Wars. The hovercrafts that you race in would always personally remind me of X-Wings.  The future has and will probably always be a popular topic for all forms of media and Wipeout was the first game to try its hand at implementing a sci-fi future theme within the mechanics of a racing simulator.

As well as an electronic musical score, the game featured songs from recognized acts such as The Chemical Brothers and Orbital. The music draws the player into the futuristic setting and makes the game a more enjoyable experience. This emphasis on music as a key component of a video game was something that would be included more and more in games as time went on, and I think Wipeout played a considerable part in establishing that.

Wipeout wasn’t without its faults. The physics of the game were criticized and it was a particularly difficult game to master as you would crash immediately if you even touched the side of the track. However, these were all faults that were worked on for the sequels and it didn’t make Wipeout any less enjoyable. As well as multiple sequels, Wipeout was brought to the PlayStation Network for the PlayStation 3 and had a Nintendo 64 version. I think that this popularity and the influence it has had on futuristic games and music in gaming make Wipeout a pretty important game and one of the better ones that the PlayStation 1 gave us.  (Antonia Haynes)

93- 3D Dot Game Heroes

It could, and probably should, be argued that 3D Dot Game Heroes is one of the PlayStation 3’s most underappreciated titles. An interesting thing to say when you consider the fact that it’s a complete rip off, doesn’t do anything new and looks and plays like a Super Nintendo game farted into a 3D space against its will. With that said, this entirely derivative package somehow manages to create a cohesive whole that far outweighs the sum of its parts.

3D Dot Game Heroes is at its core a classic Super Nintendo adventure game, with so many nods to the Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past that many might consider it a shameless rehash of this classic Nintendo title, however this would be selling the game far short of what it has to offer. Yes, the game is laid out very much like a Link to the Past clone and, yes, the core of the game is essentially the same, but its wrapped up in such a beautiful package that players are forced to sit up and take notice of this wonderful world.

The first thing that will strike player is its sheer beauty, especially considering the game was released all the way back in 2009. The water effects are quite frankly astounding for a game of that age and the world is built out of tiny blocks and given a saturated tint to the point that everything looks like a sort of diorama that can be explored and broken apart. When players kill enemies, they are smashed into their tiny, blocky component parts and the weapon variety on offer is a great twist on this well-established genre. Each sword has a secondary attack that allows players to attack vast swathes of the land in front of them. It’s a fun and engaging way to interact with enemies and a welcome surprise in a game world that feels so comfortingly familiar.

And that’s just it. This game doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but what it does do is create an environment that many will find warm and familiar whilst also new and enticing in a way that will make players want to explore. It’s a love letter to what might arguably be Nintendo’s crowning achievement on a console that sorely lacks classic adventure games. If you are a player that fell in love with Zelda as a child, then you should definitely pick this up. If somehow you didn’t or are too young to remember A Link to the Past, this is a great way to recapture the feel and flavor of this game for yourself without digging up a Super Nintendo. (David Smile)

twistedmetalblackps2

92 – Twisted Metal Black

The formula of the Twisted Metal series was never an issue, but the age it was showing by the 4th entry was an easily definable problem in the vein of too much, too soon. The series had boasted 4 titles over the course of 5 years and had quickly begun to grow stale in its lack of innovation.

Enter Twisted Metal Black. In a lot of ways Black just feels like the natural progression of the series but in a few other notable ways it comes across as more of an evolution. Take for instance the openness of the level design here, and how it allows for a more frenetic and dangerous feeling to the combat. The main takeaway from playing Twisted Metal Black for the first time is how much more quickly you can find yourself going from the offensive on the defensive in a hurry, due to the increased balance of the gameplay structure.

However, the biggest change that Black brought to the table was in the form of its narrative. Whereas previous Twisted Metals had showcased a structure more akin to fighting game campaigns, Black gave players a bit more to go on, fleshing out its characters and their goals more fluidly. Prior to the YouTube age, this was an important addition, as it gave players a reason to come back to the campaign again and again.

Today you’d be hard-pressed to convince a gamer to come back for a dozen or so replays of the same campaign, but back in 2001, it was an important part of the success of a game like Twisted Metal Black. (Mike Worby)

Best Playstation Games

91 – Odin Sphere

A strong contender for “best game that nobody has played,” Vanillaware’s 2007 PlayStation 2 swan song, Odin Sphere, is one of the most unique games ever created. Combining typical Action RPG aspects with beat ’em up style gameplay, complex farming, cooking, alchemy systems, and a story that is nearly on the scale of A Song of Ice and Fire, Odin Sphere is a master class in every aspect of game design.

To spectators and newcomers alike, the outrageously gorgeous visuals are initially the most recognizable aspect of the game. Prior to the company’s use of hand drawn graphics in games such as Muramasa: The Demon Blade and Dragon’s Crown, Vanillaware perfected their anime-inspired two-dimensional pixel design here, creating a unique aesthetic that easily rivaled any triple-A release of the time. However, this game is much more than just a pretty face, featuring gameplay that works in tandem with its story. The game is framed as five storybooks that are being read by a child in her attic, plus two extra books unlocked upon beating the correct levels in a certain order to see the “true” ending. Every book follows one of the five main characters, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, over the course of the various wars in the land of Erion.

Gameplay is comprised of 2D beat ‘em up style action on continuous circular levels with multiple exits, offering various branching paths through levels that culminate in incredibly designed, screen encompassing bosses such as the Dragon Kin Wagner, and the titular Demon Lord Odin. Fallen enemies drop energy called “Phozons,” which acts as a form of experience points for one of the games two progression systems. These can be used to upgrade the characters’ main weapons, attacks, and spells, while food is used as “HP experience”, boosting characters’ maximum health.

Additionally, the complex cooking and alchemy systems warrant entire guides to themselves, allowing players to learn various combinations of items in order to craft potions and meals that can strengthen their characters. Although the impressive visuals of the original game can often result in framerate dips and slow down during the more hectic battles, this small caveat doesn’t deter Odin Sphere from reaching the lofty goals it sets for itself. Luckily, an HD remake – Leifthrasir – released internationally in 2016, allowing fans and newcomers alike to experience Vanillaware’s original project with better performance and extra content, and making it the definitive version of the game. (Matt Bruzzano)

suikoden-iii

90 – Suikoden III

As a direct follow-up to its processor, Suikoden III did a fine job of shifting the series from its 2D roots into the 3D world. While the game did little in terms revolutionizing the genre, it’s solid all around, feeling and acting like many JRPGs of the era, which certainly isn’t a bad thing. After getting over the initial hump presented by the new graphical style, series veterans should feel right at home, as the Rune system and the 108 Stars of Destiny make their successful returns.

Both PS1 era Suikoden games were praised for their originality when it came to how they presented their narrative, and the series’ first venture on the PS2 was again successful in mesmerizing its audience via its storytelling. Rather than focusing on the story of a singular individual, with Suikoden III Konami crafted what they called a “Trinity Sight System”, which has the player following three different viewpoints from three very different individuals. Instead of having a silent protagonist like its predecessors,  Suikoden III’s main characters each have a voice and distinct personality all their own. Each of the game’s protagonists hail from different factions with differing ideals and issues; the game avoids the traditional set up of having a clear cut antagonist, instead, leaving much up to the player’s own personal interpretation of “good” and “evil”.

Any RPG enthusiast looking for a mechanically sound game which also features a mature story that circumvents the standard operating procedure of “hero saves world from ominous evil threat” should certainly check out Suikoden III. (Matt De Azevedo)

TwistedMetal2WorldTour

89 – Twisted Metal 2: World Tour

The idea behind Twisted Metal was always a stroke of genius: take the happy go lucky car combat of Super Mario Kart and amp it up for the edgier PSX. Despite the cleverness of the premise, though, the first game was a little wonky in its design, and it wasn’t until the sequel arrived that Twisted Metal really hit its stride.

Introducing new characters, more diverse levels, and ton of new ways to leave each other in a pile of steaming, smoking wreckage, Twisted Metal II: World Tour was an endlessly replayable romp that urged you to come back, again and again, to see how Calypso would screw over the next set of contestants with his Wishmaster-esque hijinks.

A classic for the decidedly fringe genre of car combat, Twisted Metal 2: World Tour is neck in neck with Black as the best game in the series. (Mike Worby)

Jak2

88 – Jak II

With an increased focus on story, one that would come to define Naughty Dog with its Uncharted series, later on, Jak II manages to keep its adventure-platforming spirit while at the same time pivoting away from the collect-a-thons that had defined the PlayStation and Nintendo 64 era.

Despite the smaller number of collectibles and the addition of a gun, the actual mechanics aren’t as far from Jak and Daxter as you might be led to believe. Even with new mini-games and tougher bosses, there’s still plenty of hopping around, swinging on monkey bars and dodging spinning things – it just takes place in a city rather than the original’s Banjo-Kazooie-inspired playgrounds.

One controversial part of Jak II is its notorious difficulty – coming in-between the invention of the auto-save and the more forgiving checkpoints of more modern games. The actual platforming is still fun as a test of dexterity, but since one wrong move sends the player all the way back to the start of the level, it’s clear that Naughty Dog were still several games away from mainstream success.

The other controversial aspect of Jak II is the change in direction of its story. Immediately more serious, including a scarier cadre of villains and a more complex plot, Jak II has drawn flak as an example of the grimdark aesthetic that dominated the late nineties and early noughties. However, anyone who plays the game will discover this reputation is greatly exaggerated.

The game is actually just as creative and funny – if not more so – than the first Jak and Daxter. Moving away from the straight-up cartoon silliness of the first, Jak II takes a more Star Wars or Blade Runner approach: with colorful neon streets, a population oppressed by Stormtroopers (I’m sorry, Krimzon Guard), and far-flung, exotic locations. Yes, the game is thematically darker – it does begin with the happy-go-lucky hero of the first game being tortured by Baron Praxis – but it is no more unsuitable for kids than the Sonic Saturday morning cartoon, or even Star Wars itself.

It may be outshone by its more popular predecessor, but Jak II has plenty to offer those who give it a chance. (Mitchell Akhurst)

Best Playstation Games

87 – Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair

The Danganronpa games are awash with despair. Each and every facet oozes despair. The antagonist’s goal is to inflict despair. Upon booting up any Danganronpa title, you’ll experience despair too. Fortunately, though, it’s a morbidly pleasant despair, like being informed your limbs have rotted away, but on the bright side, you’re now eligible for the ‘replacing your rancid limbs with tentacles’ body augmentation experiment you’ve always wanted.

Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, like its predecessor and sequel, features a misfit cast that’s trapped in antagonist Monokuma’s death game. Slowly but surely, murderous intent seeps into the minds of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair’s characters, and corpses start appearing. An investigation and class trial follows each killing, where the culprit is flushed out via a handful of mini-games.

Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair boasts the strongest cast of the trilogy, alongside the greatest locale (a tropical paradise of different themed islands). The gameplay is nothing special, but the zinger is an all-enveloping evil drenching every inch of atmosphere. Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair is horror without being horror. The emotional investment one establishes with the lovable characters is relentlessly exploited through Monokuma’s game of death (your feelings will be shot to bits following Chapter 3). The murder methods are outrageously creative at times, with a highlight being Chapter 4’s Grape and Strawberry house mystery. On top of all this, the juxtaposition between Monami’s peace-seeking personality and Monokuma’s sheer villainy is to die for. (Harry Morris)

Crash-Bandicoot

86 – Crash Bandicoot

The gaming scene of today is virtually overflowing with games that rely on complex and intricate mechanisms in order to make themselves stand out from the competition. New improvements to the engines of games are always being made, and we’re all stoked to see what brand new innovations will grace the games of the future.

However, sometimes you get a little tired of all the cutting edge graphics, the intricate storytelling that relies on an abundance of plot twists and deceit, and the perplexing gameplay itself. Sometimes simplicity can be more than enough to make a game worth playing, as proven through the release of Crash Bandicoot.

Crash Bandicoot is delicately charming when it comes to pretty much every aspect of the game. It’s based on simplicity in its purest form – all you need to know is that you use the D-pad to move around, the X button makes you jump, and finally, the circle button makes you attack. That is all the controls in the game whatsoever. The only objective of the game is to move from the start of the level to the end of the level, abolishing enemies and wreaking havoc as you make your way across the delightfully exotic worlds, animated in the finest quality the original PlayStation had to offer. As you move through the levels, you break boxes, kill turtles and other colorful animals who mean you harm, and collect apples as a system of points.

It’s a joyfully simple concept, and it makes for an amazing experience. This recipe of simplicity managed to propel Crash Bandicoot into the limelight, making it one of the bestselling games on the entire system, and Crash Bandicoot was rendered a mascot-like figure for Sony, reigning uncontested through the late 90’s. The franchise eventually spawned sequels, and games like Crash Team Racing and Crash Bash, all as a result of this wonderful first installment. (Johnny Pedersen)

CrashTeamRacing

85 – Crash Team Racing

I can’t recall which title I played first: the original Crash Bandicoot or Crash Team Racing, as I had an enormous stack of demo discs from the original PlayStation magazine, and I frequently cycled through them to find the best games. The disc with Crash Team Racing wore out. Go-kart racing is one of the most unexpected genres to emerge from the days of the Super Nintendo, and it’s one that fizzled relatively quickly (except for Mario Kart, obv.) Bringing that delicious go-kart love to the PlayStation console in late 1999 was the beloved Crash Bandicoot, after three enormously successful platformers.

Being the final Crash Bandicoot developed by Naughty Dog, Crash Team Racing was the perfect end to their Crash development – the title made for some chaotic fun and featured intense multiplayer. Spending an afternoon cussing at my cousin on any of the variety of courses was a time well-remembered. Bonding, even. Crash Team Racing drives dangerously close to mimicking kart racers that came before – Mario Kart or Diddy Kong Racing – though it differs in one area that, unsurprisingly, really matters: Crash Team Racing felt faster than the aforementioned racers. Speeding through the giant tunnels of the sewer level was both gross and exhilarating and would test your twitch response time.

Simply put, Crash Team Racing was one of the best racers to be released for the original PlayStation, an incredible four-player party game, and, to some, better than the competing kart racers of the day. One day, I hope to revisit those tracks with my daughter. (Tyler Sawyer)

Best Playstation Games

84 – LittleBigPlanet

Play. Create. Share. The mantra behind Media Molecule’s inaugural PlayStation 3 exclusive, LittleBigPlanet, remains representative of one of the most innovative and endearing experiences of the past console generation. Released early in the system’s life cycle, this unique platformer with an emphasis on user-generated-content paved the way for games such as Super Mario Maker and ModNation Racers. Gameplay is kept simple and intuitive, featuring typical platforming mechanics with the addition of the ability to grab certain materials with the R1 button and switch between three planes of depth by pressing up or down on the joystick.

The campaign, entirely comprised of levels made within the game’s “Create” mode, takes up to four players around the world on an exciting adventure to retrieve the stolen creations of the world’s “Curators” from an evil Curator called “the Collector.” Along the way, players will solve puzzles, fight bosses, and most importantly, unlock materials to use in the game’s extensive level editor. Tutorials narrated by the legendary Stephen Fry guide newcomers through the basics of customization and, while LittleBigPlanet boasts some of the most complex editing tools in gaming, it is very accessible. Upon completion, players can upload their creations to the internet to be played and rated by the world.

Since the game’s release, the community has made everything from fully functional calculators to reimagined games and movies, and by filtering levels by rating, name or popularity, Media Molecule showcases the cream of the crop. Tied together by a diverse soundtrack and amazing art direction, LittleBigPlanet has become an iconic Sony exclusive, prompting the game’s protagonist, Sackboy, to appear in both television commercials and Sony’s crossover fighting game PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. While the jumping and plane switching systems can be unwieldy at times, these shortcomings can be forgiven for the sheer amount of imaginative content that the community has cultivated. (Matt Bruzzano)

Best Playstation Games

83 – The Last Guardian

Team Ico’s PlayStation exclusive trilogy, will go down in history as some of the greatest works of art Japan has provided this industry. The often forgotten cult classic Ico, the groundbreaking PlayStation 2 masterpiece Shadow of the Colossus, and the long in development final chapter, The Last Guardian. The Last Guardian is perhaps the most curious of the three. Originally slated to be a PlayStation 3 exclusive, it instead endured over 10 years of development hell before finally, and quietly, releasing onto the PlayStation 4.

It didn’t make as great a thud among the masses, as Shadow of the Colossus once did, but for those who played it, it was just as magical. There is a certain charm and whimsy which so few developers seem able to craft. Like a Studio Ghibli film, there is a wholesomeness to The Last Guardian. A mysterious boy and a mysterious creature. They are intertwined by fate, relying on each other to escape the cavernous depths they’ve both become lost in.  

You play as the young boy, unable to fight or traverse many of the obstacles ahead. It is only by forming a bond with the creature dubbed Trico, that you can solve the world’s many puzzles. That is The Last Guardian at its core, a puzzle game. However, it is a puzzle game with so much grandeur, so much love, and so much meaning. Some found Trico and his at times erratic behavior cumbersome and annoying, I found the realism of trying to work with a wild animal, simply magical.

There is no other game like The Last Guardian, not just only a Sony platform, but on any platform. That is why it deserves a spot on this list. (Chris Bowring)

Parappa-the-Rapper

82 – PaRappa the Rapper

PaRappa is a paper thin cartoon dog living in a three-dimensional world and he’s in love with a sunflower named Sunny Funny. Also vying for the affections of Ms. Funny is Joe Chin: an obnoxious, charismatic, and egotistical dog with a massive chin. How can PaRappa show Sunny that he’s the right dog for her? Spoilers: it involves a rap battle with moose driving instructor and a kung fu master with an onion for a head.

PaRappa the Rapper is a hell of a lot of fun, and while it was short (it could be completed in one sitting in less than an hour) it was massively influential. It might seem ridiculous to consider today, but when PaRappa the Rapper was released there were no mainstream rhythm games on the market. The success of PaRappa opened the gates for the likes of Amplitude, Guitar Hero, and Rock Band, with the latter two games going on to spawn numerous sequels and make millions of dollars. Rock Band never had a level where five people in a queue for the toilet have a rap battle to decide who gets to get in the cubicle next, though, did it? (John Cal McCormick)

metal-gear-solid-guns-of-the-patriots-442627911jpg-d18e7b_1280w

81 – Metal Gear Solid IV: Guns of Patriots

After the utterly bonkers final third of Metal Gear Solid 2, and Metal Gear Solid 3 providing no answers for the questions left posed at the end of that game, fans had waited a long time for closure on the mysteries of the Metal Gear Solid series. Hideo Kojima went out of his way to try and please them, packing Guns of the Patriots with solutions to practically every unanswered question left hanging in the Metal Gear series, even the ones we didn’t know had been asked. This was a double-edged sword; while the game was a love letter to long-standing fans of the series, it made the game absolutely incomprehensible to people giving the franchise a go for the first time.

Solid Snake, now suffering from accelerated aging thanks to being a clone of the world’s greatest soldier, Big Boss, comes out of retirement for one last job to take down the spirit of his nemesis twin brother, Liquid Snake, who is possessing his other nemesis, Revolver Ocelot. If all that makes no sense to you then you probably need to play the other games in the series before taking this one on, but if reading it made you grin, then the allure of the baffling and brilliant Metal Gear Solid series is obviously within you. Guns of the Patriots might be ridiculous, melodramatic, overblown and bewildering, but it’s also a marvelous send off for one the greatest PlayStation heroes of all time and a dense, rewarding final chapter for longtime fans of the series. (John Cal McCormick)

****

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Humans by birth. Gamers by choice.Goomba Stomp is a Canadian web publication that has been independently owned and operated since its inception in 2016.

Game Reviews

‘Life is Strange 2’ Episode 4 Review – “Faith”: A Journey Through Trump’s America

Life is Strange 2 continues its strong trajectory from the previous episode, weaving a complex and troubling tale of faith gone mad.

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Life is Strange 2 has returned for its penultimate episode, a dense and troubling exploration of faith, prejudice and family in a time and place that has never been more divided: modern America. Following the events of Life is Strange 2‘s stellar third entryEpisode 4: “Faith” sees Sean attempting to pick up the pieces of his shattered life after Daniel’s violent outburst at Merrill’s farm.

Though the story of Faith” begins in a hospital, with Sean working to recover from his injuries, the trajectory of the tale explores more settings and environments than any previous episode of the series. From wandering the highways of Nevada, to exploring a dusty motel, to sneaking into a remote church, Life is Strange 2‘s 4th entry never lacks for something new to see, or someone new to interact with.

Life is Strange 2
However, the cynical bent of the story is the new centerpiece of Episode 4. Though Life is Strange 2 has never sidestepped the controversy and division of Trump’s America, Faith” leans into these ideas with renewed fervor. Violence is committed more than once against our Mexican protagonist, and his skin color often sees him at odds with the more conservative denizens of the highways he journeys down. In a particularly telling exchange, Sean even finds himself beaten and placed on the other side of a closed compound, with a gun-toting guard glaring at him from the other side. Metaphors don’t really get much clearer than that.

This will, no doubt, lead to more calls of keeping politics out of games and other entertainment by the president’s more ardent supporters, but as other writers have pointed out, gaming has never been apolitical. Further, it would be categorically irresponsible to tell a story like this without addressing the elephant in the room. With these elements in mind, the politics of Life is Strange 2 have never been clearer than in Episode 4: “Faith”, and they account for some of the strongest storytelling fuel the series has found yet.

Life Is Strange 2, Episode 4: Faith
Politics aside, Life is Strange 2 also puts Sean at a variety of other disadvantages. His starting injuries include a lost eye that must be tended to medically throughout the episode, and the various beatings he takes throughout Episode 4 more than leave their mark. This leaves Faith as the typical darkest, and most troubling, episode of this second series, where we find our protagonist at his absolute lowest point, and must continue on with him in hopes of finding a better future. It’s a common enough trope, but one that is used to great effect here.

There are many returns of characters from previous episodes, some through letters and other communications, and others through surprising reveals and revelations. A particularly shocking character joins the story with zero preamble, and emerges as one of Life is Strange 2‘s finest editions yet. To spoil who, or how, would be criminal, but rest assured that Episode 4 is more full of surprises than any of the previous entries.

Life Is Strange 2, Episode 4: Faith
Though the main conflict that eventually reveals itself, that of Daniel being used as a messianic figure for an isolated Nevada church, feels contrived initially, the layers that are eventually revealed, and Daniel’s reason for joining the church, make a lot of sense in the overall scheme of things. Due to this strength of narrative, it really feels like all bets are off during the climax of Life is Strange 2: Episode 4, and that’s a good thing for a game so centered around the notion of interactive storytelling.

Fresh, prescient, and altogether rewarding, Life is Strange 2: Episode 4 — “Faith”, is a welcome piece of fiction in a society that has become so increasingly fragmented. It illustrates the horrors of the modern American landscape, but always remembers to remind us that there are good people out there, even when hope has never seemed so far away.

Strongly Recommended

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I Still Don’t Understand ‘Death Stranding’ (and That’s a Good Thing)

Death Stranding could create an experience unlike any game before it, and while I can’t claim to understand it, I’m certainly excited for it.

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It may only be a few months until launch, but Death Stranding remains shrouded in mystery. This first independent project from gaming auteur Hideo Kojima has been an enigma ever since it was first announced. When the world first saw Norman Reedus standing on a foggy shoreline with a weeping fetus in his arms, many questions naturally arose. Why is a celebrity actor cradling an unborn child on a beach? What kind of gameplay could we expect from this? And what does “Death Stranding” even mean, anyway?

Years may have passed since that initial reveal, but in my view at least, these questions still haven’t been fully answered. I simply do not understand Death Stranding. It’s confounded me like few games before it have – and yet, that may be the very best thing about it. There’s something enticing about that mystery. Death Stranding could create an experience unlike any game before it, and while I can’t claim to understand it, I’m certainly excited for it.

Between trailers, interviews, and a fairly hefty amount of gameplay footage, there’s been an increasingly constant stream of information about Death Stranding for over a year now. This is especially true at Gamescom 2019, where the game has had an extensive presence with two full trailers and a live gameplay demonstration. For most games, this extensive amount of coverage should eliminate all the biggest questions, presenting a relatively clear idea of what the final product should be. But consider the content of Death Stranding’s most recent trailers: one consists entirely of an exposition dump about the power and proper maintenance of jarred fetuses, while another opens with Norman Reedus urinating in a field to create a giant mushroom before dropping off a package for Geoff Keighley. Previous trailers show ruined cities overflowing with tar, gold-masked lion monsters, and levitating shadow creatures. If you can make heads or tails of all that, then you’re certainly cleverer than I.

With every new piece of information, I find it more difficult to wrap my head around the game. Even with the few concrete details known about it, Death Stranding continues to defy simple categorization. Although it features stealth elements, it certainly doesn’t seem like another Metal Gear; while it will have a massive open world, it doesn’t look like it will follow in the footsteps of signature modern open worlds like Horizon Zero Dawn or Breath of the Wild; and though it tells a story about reconnecting the broken cities of a post-apocalyptic United States, its mixture of stealth, politics, and the supernatural make it distinct from most other narrative-focused games out there. Each trailer introduces another wrinkle to the perplexing web of Kojima’s latest vision.

It is this very ambiguity that makes Death Stranding so enticing. With most games, it’s easy to understand them based on a quick glance at their trailer alone. This will reveal their genre, their personality, any unique gimmicks – all the usual culprits. But with Death Stranding, the more we learn about it, the more the mystery grows. At this point, it’s even difficult to pin the game into a single genre. Only the most ambitious games manage to create genres of their own, but from what we’ve seen so far, Death Stranding looks like it could be one of them. It could simply be little more than excellent marketing, but knowing that Kojima’s unbridled imagination is behind it, my hopes are high.

Death Stranding

It would make sense for Death Stranding to be so inventive given the circumstances behind its creation. For years, Kojima’s corporate overlords at Konami had stifled his creativity as they moved the company’s focus away from Kojima’s traditional titles like Metal Gear and Silent Hill towards more immediately lucrative pursuits such as mobile platforms and pachinko machines. Now that Kojima has freed himself from those restrictions and formed an independent studio of his own, his vision can run more freely than ever before. It’s to be expected that, finally presented with the opportunity to fully express his vision, he’d do so by creating something truly daring, something never seen before.

Of course, as attractive as the intrigue around Death Stranding may be, it doesn’t change that it’s difficult to really judge a game without knowing much about it at all. With so many important details remaining unspecified, there’s no telling whether Death Stranding will actually achieve its clear ambitions. If I were to view things pessimistically, I’d posit that the game’s ambiguity could be nothing more than an elaborate marketing scheme meant to mask the lackluster game beneath it. While I’m certainly much more optimistic about the game than that, I can’t deny the very real possibility that it could be the case.

But at the end of the day, I simply cannot resist the romantic allure of a game so surrounded by mystery. The core of Death Stranding may be wrapped in an inscrutable fog, but Kojima uses this layer of secrecy to invite players to experience a game that is truly new, an all-too-rare commodity in games today. Kojima hasn’t been free to express his vision so fully for years now, but at long last he has his chance. I cannot comprehend Death Stranding, and that’s exactly why I’m so excited for it.

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‘Daemon X Machina’ – Spotlighting 2019’s Least-Hyped Switch Game

Daemon X Machina made a bold first impression with its bombastic announcement at E3 2018 – and gamers promptly stopped caring about it. It’s time for that to change.

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Daemon x Machina

Daemon X Machina made a bold first impression with its bombastic announcement at E3 2018 – and gamers promptly stopped caring about it. It’s time for that to change.

From the very beginning, Daemon X Machina has struggled for attention.  It’s certainly not for lack of trying; after all, Nintendo has worked tirelessly to help promote this Switch-exclusive mech action game from Marvelous, even going so far as to position it as the first announcement of its big E3 Direct last year. Despite these efforts, though, Daemon X Machina has often been lost in the shuffle of other Switch exclusives. When there’s constantly talks of a new Animal Crossing, Zelda, or Smash Bros., an original IP like Daemon X Machina easily gets left out of the conversation. However, there’s no denying that it has some incredible potential, making it a game that’s certainly worth checking out amidst the crowded release schedule for the rest of the year. Now is the time to spotlight that ahead of its launch on September 13.

A good mech game doesn’t need to do much – it must simply provide the player with massive robot suits, near-excessive over-the-top action, and a story to help the game make at least a little sense. Daemon X Machina looks set to deliver in all three of those departments. It will feature a huge amount of flexibility to create the perfect mech, thanks to hundreds of interchangeable weapons and body parts, many of which can be scavenged from fallen enemies. With gargantuan destructible environments and hordes of robotic foes to take down, the combat looks to be as extravagant as some of the best action games of recent years. That’s not to mention the main plot, which focuses on the aftermath of the moon exploding. Yes, it does sound like ridiculous anime-inspired fodder, but a game about giant roots blowing each other out of the sky doesn’t need a plot that adheres to realism. It need only set up a somewhat-reasonable backdrop for intense mechanized combat, and in that regard, it’s looking like a recipe for success.

Daemon X Machina

All these features are great on their own, but what makes them truly exciting is the pedigree behind them. Daemon X Machina is being developed by a dream team of developers who have worked extensively on some of the most iconic mech games ever made. For instance, the team includes Kenichiro Tsukuda and Shoji Kawamori, who respectively produced and designed the mechs for the legendary Armored Core series. This team aims to take the classic formula that made Armored Core and other classics so special and put it back in the spotlight with Daemon X Machina. However, that doesn’t mean that it will be merely derivative. It already displays a distinct personality of its own thanks to its ambitious gameplay concepts (again, exploding moon) and its distinctive cell-shaded visuals. Its striking color palette of bold reds, blacks, and whites shouldn’t be surprising, considering that its art is directed by none other than Yusuke Kozaki, who has worked on such stylish titles as the No More Heroes series.

If it achieves its potential, Daemon X Machina could be a godsend for its genre. While it would be unfair to call the mech action genre “dead,” it is certainly quite niche. This would be the first time in years that a giant robot action game has had the full support of a major company like Nintendo behind it. And while Nintendo has already supported this genre in the past, this will be the first time that it’s done so on a hit console like the Switch, which automatically gives it a wide and passionate audience. Even with its inherent niche status, Daemon X Machina is already in a better position than many similar games before it thanks to its publisher and platform. If it does well, it could inspire Nintendo and other companies to promote similar games, leading to a needed revival of the genre’s popularity.

But this leads to one of the simultaneously best and worst aspects of Daemon x Machina: its demo. Marvelous released an early demo on the Switch eShop back in February with the intention of drumming up interest in the game and getting player feedback. To put it plainly, it wasn’t very good. The action felt unsatisfying with a lack of any feeling of real impact with each blow; it was difficult to aim at enemies due to imprecise targeting systems, poor visibility, and an absence of gyro controls; and worst of all, its performance was horrendous. It was stuck at a mere thirty frames per second, which is already less than ideal for such a fast-paced action game. But it didn’t even manage to hit that target consistently, leading to a choppy and unsatisfying experience. One need only take a quick look through Digital Foundry’s breakdown to understand the demo’s many issues.

Daemon X Machina

“Marvelous did something incredible here: they listened to their fans.”

However, the demo has turned out to be something of a blessing in disguise. Shortly after the demo’s release, Marvelous distributed a survey to many players and requested their feedback. A few months later, Nintendo released a new trailer showing how the feedback had been integrated into the game. The full list of changes reads like a wish list of everything that needed to be adjusted following the demo. Highlights include the addition of gyro controls, improved targeting and feedback systems, and most importantly, an improved framerate. In fact, the developers have stated that performance was one of their “top priorities” when adjusting the game.

Marvelous did something incredible here: they listened to their fans. The fact that they were so open to feedback and eager to improve bodes incredibly well for the final release. They know that the mech action genre isn’t what it used to be, and they seem truly passionate about creating a quality title in the genre they love. In an industry that is so often focused more on emptying players’ wallets than creating a worthwhile title, this attitude is incredibly refreshing, hinting of a project that’s filled with genuine care and passion.

The unfortunate truth remains that Daemon X Machina is bound to be one of Nintendo’s least-hyped games this year. As long as games like Astral Chain, Dragon Quest XI S, and Link’s Awakening are all releasing within the same month, it will almost inevitably remain that way. But there is incredible promise for it nonetheless. With the quality of the game design, the legacy of its creators, and their clear passion for their project, it looks set to become something very special and deserves every bit of attention it can get. If fans can look past the games that typically hog the spotlight to find this bombastic little secret, they could be in for an enthusiastic, if under-hyped revival of a once-dormant genre.

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‘Earthbound’ is one of the Weirdest, Most Surreal Video Games

25 Years later…

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Games that Changed Our Lives

The SNES is arguably home to some of the best Japanese role-playing games ever made, but even among such revered company, Earthbound (known as Mother 2 in Japan) stands out as a brilliant satire about growing up and our fears of conformity. It’s anarchy versus conformity, only conformity doesn’t stand a chance.

EarthBound has been often compared to Catcher in the Rye with its complex issues of identity, belonging, loss, connection, and alienation. Blistering, hallucinatory, often brilliant, Earthbound is a one-two punch of social satire and a hilarious ride into the twisted recesses of a boy’s psyche. This often funny, always poignant coming of age tale, deeply embedded in suburban mores, centers around four kids, off to save the planet by collecting melodies while en route to defeating the evil alien force known as Giygas.

Earthbound
Earthbound
didn’t reinvent the wheel, but it sure had fun twisting the usual JRPG tropes. There’s a princess you must rescue, not once, but twice, who’s really just a child prodigy, and there’s an arch nemesis who turns out to be your next-door neighbour. The game puts you in the shoes of a young boy named Ness as he investigates a nearby meteorite crash. There, he learns that Giygas, has enveloped the world in hatred and consequently turned animals, humans, and inanimate objects into dangerous creatures. A bee from the future instructs Ness to collect melodies in a Sound Stone to preemptively stop Giygas from destroying the planet. While visiting eight Sanctuaries, Ness partners with three other kids, a psychic girl (Paula), an eccentric inventor (Jeff), and the prince of the kingdom of Dalaam (Poo). Along the way are underlining themes of corrupt politicians, post-traumatic stress, corporate greed, depression, capitalism, police violence, terrorist attacks, homosexuality, religious cults, and xenophobia. Your adventures take you through modern cities, prehistoric villages, cold winter climates, a desert wasteland, monkey caves, swamps, dinosaur museums, and even a yellow submarine.

“Ness, you’ve stood on the eight power spots of the earth. From these, you created Magicant, the realm of your mind.”

A pivotal moment in the game comes after collecting all eight melodies with the Sound Stone. After Ness has taken control of his Sanctuaries, Ness visits, Magicant, a surreal location that exists only in his mind and contains his warmest memories and his worst fears – an allegory perhaps, for how the entire game allows us to see into the mind of the creator. There, Ness must face his dark side. A man tells him, “Magicant is a place where you must cleanse yourself of the evil hidden within your mind. Take the time to look around, it is your mind after all.”

EarthBound is arguably one of the single best RPGs ever made, and boasts one of the best storylines of any game.


The tone of Earthbound is perhaps its most fascinating attribute, best exemplified by its most famous quote: “There are many difficult times ahead, but you must keep your sense of humor.” Earthbound skillfully surprises you with a reservoir of emotion and sentiment that happily counters the game’s trendy ironic veneer. Along the way, Ness visits the cultists of Happy Happy Village (based on a real-life Japanese doomsday cult founded by Shoko Asahara in 1984); their mission statement is to paint the town red by literally painting it blue. You’ll fight a watchful puddle of vomit and battle through the zombie-infested town of Threed. You’ll use a peculiar device called the Pencil Eraser to remove statues of pencils that block you from advancing through specific areas, and you’ll suffer through terrifying hallucinations of your family and friends, and be asked to dismember your arms and legs, or otherwise, lose your mind. In one of the game’s most memorable moments, Paula is kidnapped by the Department Store Spook, an unseen entity that resides in the town’s shopping mall. And after defeating Frank Fly and his evil creation Frankystein Mark II, you’ll be escorted to the back of a police precinct, only to be assaulted by four officers and Captain Strong, the chief of the Onett police force. Defeat the corrupt cops and you’ll gain access to the second town you’ll visit (named TWOson, so as not to be confused with Onett, Threed, and Fourside). And when entering a cave, you’ll battle five moles made up of members who each believe themselves to be the third-most powerful of their group. Then there is backwards city Moonside, a warped mirror image of Fourside, that hides a secret more terrifying than the town itself. Just walking around feels like something between an out-of-body experience and a nightmarish trance, in which abstract art attacks you and the psychedelic imagery, lit by gaudy fluorescent neon-lights which contrasts the entire look and feel of what came before. It’s a city where yes means no and no means yes; a place where blond-haired business men teleport you across the city blocks and where an invisible man with a unibrow and a gold tooth gets you past the sketchy sailor hiding out in the back alley.


Throughout the game, Ness is repeatedly antagonized by his neighbor, Pokey, who resurfaces several times, and countless other enemies including Titanic Ant, professional thief Mr. Everdred, and a glorious evil statue Mani, Mani. But the real big bad of the game is the aforementioned Giygas, a.k.a. The “Embodiment of Evil” and the “Universal Cosmic Destroyer”, who intends to sentence all of reality to the horror of infinite darkness. Giygas borrows heavily from Stephen King’s It and was inspired by a murder scene from the black-and-white Japanese horror film The Military Policeman and the Dismembered Beautya sequence which scarred creator Shigesato Itoi, when he accidentally watched the film as a child. Giygas is without question, the most disturbing, and strangest end-boss villain of any Super NES game – a character so deranged, there’s been hundreds of fan theories about what he really is.

While EarthBound’s overall gameplay feels like a traditional Japanese RPG of the era, the game is full of ingenious ideas that buck genre trends. EarthBound also makes no apologies for being very difficult to complete. It takes days to finish and is most challenging at the beginning when Ness travels alone and hasn’t yet powered-up. Inventory space remains incredibly limited since each character can only carry a certain amount of items and you can’t drop many of the items since they will come in handy later in the game. Boosting your XP is a must, otherwise, you won’t stand a chance in defeating any boss; and currency is also important when buying new weapons or visiting the hospital to attend to fatal injuries. Money must be withdrawn from the nearest ATM, deposited by your estranged father, and a bedtime snack from your loving mother sends you off to bed to recharge your stats. There are other refreshing deviations from RPG tropes, and every one of the four characters has a specific skill-set.

Earthbound is a strange game, themed around an idiosyncratic portrayal of American culture from a Japanese point of view. The game subverted popular role-playing game traditions by featuring a real-world setting while playing with various staples of the genre and adding a number of pop-culture references throughout. The Japanese title was inspired by the song of the same name by John Lennon – a song about growing up without a father for most of his life, and unsurprising, Ness’ dad is never once seen, and only communicates with his son via telephone. And that’s not the only Beatles reference you’ll see: EarthBound makes two additional nods to the world’s greatest band, along with allusions to Bugs Bunny, comedian Benny Hill, Rob Reiner’s This Is Spinal Tap, the Blues Brothers, Monopoly (Monotoli), Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Rambo, Mr. T, and The Who, to name a few. Written, directed, and created by famous Japanese personality Shigesato Itoi; this is surely his love letter to 20th-century Americana.

Localizing Earthbound was a massive undertaking. Under directives from Nintendo, Marcus Lindblom worked with the Japanese artists and programmers to remove references to intellectual property, religion, and alcohol from the American release, such as the Coca-Cola logo and the red crosses on hospitals (due to issues with the Red Cross). Alcohol became coffee, Ness was no longer walking around nude in the Magicant area and the Happy Happyist blue cultists sprites were altered to look less like Ku Klux Klansmen. The Runaway Five members’ outfits were changed to make them look less like the Blues Brothers, and the “Sky Walker” was changed to the “Sky Runner” to avoid the Star Wars reference. Apollo Theater was changed to Topolla Theater, presumably to avoid issues with the real-life venue and the use of the word drug, seen on the various town maps was removed or changed. The list goes on and on…

Chock full of odd charm and humour in a genre that usually takes itself a little too serious, Earthbound is one of the weirdest, most surreal video games you’ll ever have fun playing.

earthbound

The game had a lengthy development spanning five years and involved a number of Japanese luminaries, including writer Shigesato Itoi, songwriter Keiichi Suzuki, sound designer Hirokazu Tanaka, and future Nintendo president Satoru Iwata. Released in a huge box-set that contained a strategy guide with scratch-and-sniff stickers, Earthbound came with a $2 million marketing campaign derived from the game’s unusual brand of humor. As part of Nintendo’s “Play It Loud” campaign, EarthBound’s tagline read, “this game stinks.” Earthbound was proud to one of the most bizarre RPGs – and it didn’t shy away from its offbeat premise. Unfortunately, the game was met with poor critical response and sales in the United States, but as the years went by, the game received wide acclaim and was deemed by many a timeless classic. It has since become one of the most sought-after games in the second-hand market, selling for upwards of $80 for the cartridge alone. Holding onto an incredibly dedicated cult following, the main character Ness became a featured character in the Super Smash Bros. series and in 2013, EarthBound was reissued and given a worldwide release for the Wii U Virtual Console following many years of fan lobbying.

EarthBound is arguably one of the single best RPGs ever made, and boasts one of the best storylines of any game. There are two extremely popular fan-made sites dedicated to the game (Starmen.netEarthboundCentral), and dozens of other sites have devoted countless hours in translating the sequel for English-speaking audiences. Earthbound was ahead of its time when released and its influence continues to be felt, inspiring the likes of Pokemon, Animal Crossing, Majora’s Mask, Chibi Robo, Retro City Rampage, and South Park: The Stick of Truth.

While Earthbound’s game mechanics stick to the traditional JRPG template, its surreal world, imaginative locals, and experimental soundtrack created a truly unique experience. Nothing stands out quite like its visual style – an 8-bit presentation powered by a 16-bit processor. The graphics might not be as advanced as some of the other 16-bit titles available on the SNES, but it is certainly among the most memorable. The SNES was home to some amazing soundtracks, but EarthBound’s soundtrack remains the best. Created by four composers, there’s enough music here to fill 8 of the 24 megabits on the cartridge – with direct musical quotations of classical tune and folk music, and a few samples culled from commercial pop and rock. It also contains one of the very best endings in any video game, a touching climax that captures the vulnerability and beauty of adolescence and the power of friendship. And the punctuation mark comes during the credits. Throughout the game, you’ll cross paths several times with a photographer who descends from the sky and snaps a photograph of your most recent achievement. These pictures will roll throughout the credits, serving as a makeshift montage of your time spent playing the game. And be sure to stay until the very end. To say more would be giving away the surprise.


I can’t think of another game as irreverently comic and deeply touching as Earthbound. Here is a game that resonates long after completion, and oozes originality in just about every frame. Ness may rock his sweet ball cap, handy backpack, telekinetic powers, and a trusty baseball bat, but even this hero needs to call his mom regularly, otherwise, he may suddenly find himself useless in battle. Earthbound stands, sweet and strong, outrageous and quirky, like its heroes — it’s about the loss of innocence as well as gaining wisdom – and is one of those treasures absolutely not to be missed. While it suffers from a slow start and stretched premise, the charm of its cast debunking an intergalactic conspiracy goes a long way. Of all the games I own on the Super NES, Earthbound is the game I treasure the most and the game that made me fall in love with the medium.

– Ricky D

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Indie World 2019: The Best Games From Nintendo’s Showcase

With a healthy mix of brand new titles and a few shocking ports, here’s all the best games announced at Nintendo’s Indie World showcase.

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Indie World

Whenever Nintendo announces another indie presentation, it’s impossible to know what to expect. One may be a fairly low-key event, while another might announce a brand new Zelda game. The latest “Indie World” presentation for Gamescom 2019 found itself somewhere in the middle. It didn’t feature quite as many earth shattering reveals as the previous presentation in March, but with a healthy mix of promising new titles, updates on previously announced games, and a few shocking ports, Indie World was a worthwhile showcase in its own right. Without further ado, here’s some of the very best game announcements from the presentation, arranged in order of their appearance.

Eastward

Indie World

I’m firmly of the belief that you can never have too many Zelda-likes in your life. For this reason alone, Eastward looks like it could be an exciting addition to the Switch’s indie lineup. Better yet, this latest Chuckelfish-published game looks like it has all the makings of a great entry in the genre.

It tells a simple story: a miner finds a young girl alone in a secret underground facility, and together, they go on to explore a post-apocalyptic land. Although this world has been apparently ravaged by a cataclysmic disaster, it still looks gorgeous thanks to its lush pixel art and fluid character animations. Pair this with your typical Zelda-like gameplay loop of overworld exploration and dungeon puzzle-solving, and Eastward looks like it will be a promising prospect when it releases next year.

The Touryst

Indie World

Shin’en Multimedia has long been known for making some of the best-looking titles on Nintendo consoles with visual stunners like the Fast Racing series. However, The Touryst is a departure from the games they’re known for. While it’s just as breathtaking as their previous work with its beautiful lighting and voxel-based design, it’ll be a much slower experience than Shin’en’s signature lightning-fast racing games.

As its name would suggest, it focuses on a tourist taking a relaxing tropical vacation, whiling away their time with activities like shopping, scuba diving, and visiting arcades. However, the trailer also hints of a greater mystery lurking beneath this laid-back surface. With Zelda-like dungeons to explore and puzzles to solve as well as a contemporary tropical setting, it seems like it could be considered a spiritual successor to the NES cult classic, StarTropics. It should definitely be one to keep an eye on when it launches this November.

Röki

Who’s the real monster here? Röki is a narrative-focused adventure game set in a world taken straight out of Scandinavian fairytales, featuring a snow-laden forest inhabited by fantastical creatures of Nordic mythology.  It puts players in control of a young woman exploring this mystical environment, with the goal of saving her family and interacting with these various monsters. Its visuals adopt a beautiful storybook style, and with its emphasis on accessible gameplay and telling a touching story, it looks like it could be a worthwhile purchase for anyone in search of a more poignant adventure when it hits Switch this winter.

SUPERHOT

Indie World

It’s not a true Nintendo presentation without a shadow drop or two, so SUPERHOT took it upon itself to be the first to fill that void during Indie World. It’s a striking shooter built upon one simple concept: time only moves when you do. This core idea creates a uniquely methodical approach to the genre, nearly turning SUPERHOT into more of a puzzler than a shooter. It’s already made quite an impact on other platforms, so it should fit right in on Nintendo’s hybrid wonder – and best of all, it’s available right now.

Hotline Miami Collection

Indie World

If it has style, action, and plenty of violence, it’s probably a Devolver Digital game. The boutique indie publisher has supported the Switch with plenty of quality games over the past few years, but the brutal series that launched the publisher into fame in the first place has been strangely absent. Thankfully, that changed today with the surprise release of the Hotline Miami Collection on the eShop.

Gathering both games in the iconic Hotline Miami top-down shooter series into a single package, this release brings all of their signature hardcore difficulty and neon style to a Nintendo platform for the first time. For anyone who’s enjoyed Devolver’s fantastic output thus far on the Switch but hasn’t yet experienced these famously bloody titles, it should be an excellent purchase.

Ori and the Blind Forest

Microsoft’s surreal love affair with Nintendo continues with the reveal that another Xbox One console exclusive will be making its way to Switch. Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition is the ultimate version of the acclaimed artistic platformer. It will feature the same beautiful visuals, detailed world, and touching story that made the original release so special, along with all the additional areas, story, and improvements of the Definitive Edition.

For those concerned that the game’s incredible visuals will lose their luster on Nintendo’s under-powered device, there’s no need to worry: the developers have confirmed that the Switch version contains no compromises, running at a locked 60 frames per second at 1080p resolution while docked, with a native 720p resolution in handheld mode. It joins the ranks of Cuphead and Super Lucky’s Tale as yet another former Microsoft exclusive to appear on Nintendo’s console, and with its uncompromising conversion to Switch, it should be one of the most remarkable Switch ports yet when it releases on September 27.

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Freelance Film Writers

Goomba Stomp is the joint effort of a team of like-minded writers from across the globe. We provide smart readers with sharp, entertaining writing on a wide range of topics in pop culture, offering an escape from the usual hype and gossip. We are currently looking for Film, TV, Anime and Comic writers.

Contact us: Editor@GoombaStomp.com

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