John's Top Ten Lists

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10. Metroid Prime - Gorgeous graphics, blazing-hot action, and clever puzzles; ordinarily I don't like first person games, but Metroid Prime is so perfectly executed that it overcame my initial prejudice. It's not the easiest game in the world to get into, but the effort is worth it. PS - Samus is hot.

9. Super Mario 64 - The first time I saw this game, I was absolutely floored. Never before had there been a game so fully and beautifully realized, and it wasn't just pretty. Mario 64 played like a dream, and changed the way video games were made. Featuring memorable levels like the haunted house and the fire level, it sucked away my free time like nobody's business. Personally, I thought the flying was the best part.

8. Shadowrun - I'm referring to the Sega Genesis version, the SNES version was all right, but the Genesis version was absolute genius. Featuring a complex and interesting plotline that has the main character investigate the unexplained death of his brother, it was also one of the most complex console RPG's ever made. Not only could you accept missions that had you infiltrating mega-corporations, fighting ghouls, and hacking into computers, but you had complete control of your party, hiring and fire other shadowrunners as the situation warranted. Every skill in the Pencil and Paper RPG is in the game, and you can buy a variety of cyberware, spells, and computer utilities. Amazing!

7. Harvest Moon 64 - There's not much to say about this game. You play a young man who has two and a half years to improve the farm he inherited, make friends with the townspeople, and start a family. It's so wonderful that there's a game out there that focuses on something other than violence and killing. The SNES version is great too, but this one has more features and options.

6. Eternal Darkness - Talk about creepy. This game will mess with your mind. Not in the sense that "oh, the character is fighting some weird-ass monsters," but like the television will go blank and you'll, "did I just sit on the remote or something?" The insanity meter was a great idea, and as moody as the plot and visual style is, the only thing this game had to do was have adequate gameplay. Luckily, it's more than adequate, with exciting combat and one of the deepest magic systems ever. My only gripe is that I got so good at it that my insanity meter never went down. Oh, well.

5. Fallout 2 - Fallout was the original go-anywhere do-anything RPG. It allowed you to tackle problems through your choice of combat, diplomacy, or stealth. Fallout 2 was like Fallout, but more. Anything you could imagine your character doing, you could do. Steal from the shopkeepers, sleep with the crime lord's wife, do illegal drugs, or join the fringe cult instead of eliminating it; after playing console RPG's for so long, the sense of freedom is positively intoxicating. A must have for anyone who even remotely likes RPG's

4. Final Fantasy 3 - Fallout was more sophisticated and adult, but FF3 had more charm and personality. Kefka is my all-time favorite favorite villain. Somehow, he managed to combine over-the-top evil with an odd effeminancy - even while he was kicking your ass, he still seemed like a big 'ol flaming queer. Except for the vanish/doom trick, the game had the perfect difficulty, and even after 25 hours of playing, there's still plenty to do.

3. Alpha Centauri - Without a doubt the best strategy game ever. It's nearly five years old and has yet to be surpassed. It took everything that was right with the Civ 2 engine and added a whole slew of features and customization options. The unique faction abilities and expanded diplomacy add whole levels of gameplay that were sorely missing from Civ 2. Plus, the secret project movies were cool.

2. Super Mario World - Perfectly tuned platforming action. Dozens of secret levels. Flight capes. Ghost houses. Yoshi. The star road. Mario. Graphics that weren't surpassed until Donkey Kong Country came along. There's so much to this game, it's ridiculous. If anyone tries to tell you this game is not absolutely wonderful, you should punch them in the face. Tell 'em John Frazer said they deserved it.

1. Legend of Zelda - Majora's Mask - It's "Groundhog Day" meets Legend of Zelda. The time travel element is an unbelievably fun addition to the series. The subquests are so complex you'll need a notebook to keep track of them all (very thoughtfully provided in-game). The boss battles are innovative, and actually challenging. You gain the ability to assume a variety of forms to overcome obstacles. Collecting the masks is a blast. I could go on, but if I keep gushing, I'll sound like the world's biggest fanboy. This game alone is reason enough to buy an N64.