Honorable Mentions 1991: The Simpsons (Arcade)

Developed: Konami
Published: Konami
Genre: Beat 'em up
Platform: Arcade(reviewed), PC, C64

Since I need more time for my next GOTY article, I think it's time I break out another filler feature: Honorable Mentions. In this feature I'll look at games from years that I've already covered in previous top 5s that didn't quite make the cut despite still being very good. Today we'll look at Konami's 1991 beat 'em up based on The Simpsons, simply titled The Simpsons. I remember it being one of the earliest arcade games I ever played and being a fan of the show, I loved it. Playing it nowadays, I think it still holds up well and I noticed a lot of goofy references that I probably missed as a kid, like the rabbit from Life in Hell as one of the enemies.

Game Music Appreciation: Demon's Souls intro song

In this installment of game music appreciation I bring you a song from a game that I HATED:
Demon's Souls.

After all the rave reviews that Demon's Souls got, and the fact that it was developed by From Software, a company whose games I usually really enjoy, I knew I had to have it. So I picked it up and started playing. And I started dying. And dying, and dying, and dying, and dying some more. Good freaking lord. This game may be the second most difficult game I've ever played, the first being Trauma Center for DS. That one will never be topped. Except maybe by I Wanna Be the Guy. Call me any number of noob insults that you want but I personally don't enjoy getting my ass handed to my by any game unless I really, really enjoy the gameplay(Dead Space 2 is a good example). Demon's Souls isn't a bad game by just about any measure. I think it just requires a certain mind set that I just don't have.

Anyway, as for the song, it's from the game's intro and I think it's simply titled Demon's Souls. It's a truly intimidating piece that sets a fantastic tone for the game.

Here it is, courtesy of YouTube user IvanIMG:

My Top 5 Games of 2008: #2 Dead Space (360)

Developed: EA Redwood Shores
Published: Electronic Arts
Genre: Third Person Action Horror
Platform: 360(reviewed), PS3, PC

I was a huge fan of Resident Evil 4 and after playing it for immeasurable hours, I craved a similar experience. A couple of years after RE4's release, EA announced Dead Space, an action horror game with a very similar gameplay style to RE4. I was excited but skeptical at first because at the time EA was mostly known for it's many licensed game series, so I didn't know what to expect from an original title from them. Despite my concerns, Dead Space was released to near universal acclaim and I soon picked it up. I was instantly hooked, completing the game over and over. It became the first 360 game that I got every achievement in, a distinction only 3 other games have so far. I even made up my own challenges, like beating the game with only the ripper, my least favorite weapon in the game, completing the game without dying and other crazy shit that I don't usually bother with.

My Top 5 Games of 2008: #3 Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)

Developed: Nintendo, Sora, Game Arts, HAL Laboratory, Monolith Soft, Paon
Published: Nintendo
Genre: Party Fighting Game
Platform: Wii

I still remember my excitement when the first Super Smash Bros was announced for the Nintendo 64. A party style fighting game featuring my favorite Nintendo characters? Gimme! Gimmegimmegimme! Ahem...As you may know from my previous articles, I'm a pretty big Nintendo fan, so the concept of Mario vs Link just blew my young mind. It's sequel, Super Smash Bros Melee was what sold me on the GameCube. I knew I had to have the console just for that one game, even if no other good games came out; I just had to play Smash Bros. The game in question today, Super Smash Bros Brawl, had the same effect, and was the biggest motivating factor in me buying a Wii. That's the kind of power SSB has on me. Announce a new game in the series on a platform I don't have and I'll buy it. Just for 1 game.

My Top 5 Games of 2008: #4 Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3)

Developed: Kojima Productions
Published: Konami
Genre: Stealth/Third Person Action
Platform: PS3

Let me start this article by saying that I am a Metal Gear fanatic. I've played just about every game in the series and 2 of them are in my top 10 games of all time(I'll get to that some day). Although this isn't one of them it is still an amazing game and a fantastic end to the saga of series protagonist Solid Snake. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots chronicles his fight against Revolver Ocelot, a man possessed by Snake's dead brother Liquid. It boasts some of the best graphics in any game to date and a globe spanning plot with some incredible action set pieces. There are a few things that I don't like about it, though, but I'll get into that in the bulk of the article. This is gonna be another long snark fest like my Final Fantasy IV article and will contain spoilers for the whole Metal Gear series so be warned.

Silent Hill HD Collection is an Eldritch abomination

I am a HUGE fan of the Silent Hill series dating back to the first game. Hell, even just the demo of the first game before it came out may be the demo I played the most in my life. It's one of the only series that I own every game of on at least 1 platform. I consider Silent Hill 2 to have perhaps the greatest video game story of all time and it's easily in my top 5 games of ever. The only thing I don't love about the Silent Hill games is the combat. It's wretchedly awful in all of them. Also, Homecoming had a pretty dumb story but that's beside the point.

EDIT: meant to link to this for anyone not familiar with the term.

My Top 5 Games of 2008: #5 No More Heroes (Wii)

Developed: Grasshopper Manufacture
Published: Ubisoft
Genre: Third Person Action
Platform: Wii(reviewed), PS3

I was a huge fan of Grasshopper Manufacture's Killer7 so I came into No More Heroes expecting an absolutely amazing experience. While it didn't quite live up to my sky high expectations, it still wowed me in a lot of ways. It's a much more lighthearted, comedic game than the utterly abstract Killer7 so it disappointed me a bit in that department, but if you go into it without any expectations you'll find a hilarious take on modern brawlers.

My Game of the Year 1991: Super Mario World (SNES)

Developed: Nintendo EAD
Published: Nintendo
Genre: Platformer
Platform: SNES(reviewed), GBA, Wii Virtual Console

Super Mario World. The first game I ever played. This was one of the games of the year that I knew right off the bat(yes, I already have the full list.) As I said in my first post on this blog, I played this game steadily for years, even with many other games available to me. Even after beating it numerous times, and discovering its many secrets, it never got boring to me. For me, it has a lasting fun factor and charm that has been rarely matched to this day and it's a game that I still go back to occasionally.

My Top 5 Games of 1991: #2 Final Fantasy IV (SNES)

Developed: SquareSoft
Published: SquareSoft
Genre: JRPG
Platform: SNES(reviewed), PS1, GBA, DS, Wii Virtual Console, PSP

I didn't play Final Fantasy IV, or Final Fantasy II as it was known at the time, until long after it's initial release in 1991. However, when I finally did, it instantly became one of my favorite games and I realized why this Final Fantasy thing I've heard so much about was so damn popular. Final Fantasy IV is a Japanese role-playing game where you take control of dark knight Cecil on his quest for redemption after he realizes the evil of his king and the dictator who controls him. It is a dark tale with a surprisingly mature tone for the time. A word of warning: this post is going to be a long one and will contain SPOILERS so if you have been planning to play the game, do it now! You wont regret it. (NOTE: my story summary is purposefully tongue-in-cheek, so please try to have fun with it)

Game Music Appreciation: Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 - Soviet March

Since my next top 5 entry is gonna take a while, here's a new feature that I'll return to whenever I need extra time: Game Music Appreciation. I plan on featuring one song in every top five entry, but some games just don't make the cut and still have great music that deserves to be heard. In this feature I'll highlight a video game song that I love from a game that I probably won't end up writing a full article about.

This Installment:
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 - Soviet March

I was a pretty big fan of Red Alert 2 but by the time RA3 came out I didn't like RTSs as much as I used to, so I waited until it was cheap on Steam. What a mistake that was. Red Alert 3 quickly became one of my favorite games in the C&C series and one thing that really stood out to me was the title screen, especially the song that plays: Soviet March. I have no idea what the lyrics are since the song is in Russian and for all I know it could be horrifically anti-American since the Red Alert series is about a war between the U.S. and Russia. Regardless of that fact, it's one of the most heroic songs I've ever heard and it sets a great tone for the game.

Anyway, here it is, courtesy of YouTube user QCMike01:

My Top 5 Games of 1991: #3 Super Castlevania IV (SNES)

Developed: Konami
Published: Konami
Genre: Action Platformer
Platform: SNES(reviewed), Wii Virtual Console

Another one of the earliest games I can recall playing, Super Castlevania IV is probably my favorite of the Castlevania series. It is a relentlessly difficult game with a few cheap enemy placement problems, which actually wouldn't be a problem at all if taking damage didn't knock you back. And it seems that more often that not a bottomless pit is waiting directly behind you. This was a source of much frustration in me as a child, yet I still consider the game to be one of my favorites.

My Top 5 Games of 1991: #4 U.N. Squadron (SNES)

Developed: Capcom
Published: Capcom
Genre: Side Scrolling Shoot 'em Up
Platform: SNES(reviewed), Arcade

Although I'm not completely certain, I'm fairly sure that  U.N. Squadron was the second game I ever played. My dad probably saw the cover and bought it for me(I was too young at the time to know which games to ask for) because of his love of Top Gun and it wouldn't surprise me if Capcom was partially inspired to make the game because of the film's popularity. I say partially because the game is actually based on a Japanese manga called Area 88, a fact I only learned in recent years. Regardless of it's origins, I loved the game and played it extensively for years.

My Top 5 Games of 1991: #5 ActRaiser (SNES)

Developed: Quintet  
Published: Enix
Genre: Strategy, Platformer, Isometric shooter
Platform: SNES(reviewed), Wii Virtual Console

It wasn't until years after it was released that I first played this gem of a launch title, but when I finally did, it left a mighty impression on me. I rented ActRaiser for the first time around 1994 or so and I became instantly hooked. I was only 7 years old or so at the time so a lot of the strategy concepts went right over my young head at first. However after some old fashioned trial and error dying a LOT, I soon began to grasp it. The platforming sections were different. I was in my element there. Still, the game was relentless. Deaths upon deaths followed and I never actually completed the game...So why is it one of my favorite games of 1991?

A Mission Statement

I've been a gamer since the age of 4 when I got my first game console, the Super Nintendo, for Christmas of 1991. Super Mario World, the pack-in game at the time, was my first game. Oh, the fun I had; the delightful merriment! For years, even after receiving many other SNES games, Mario was a constant staple of my SNES rotation. As I grew, though, I found other games, other consoles to love, but the SNES shaped who I am as a gamer today.