Last week, I was doing some research for an upcoming TJG feature, and had to check out a bunch of “Top 100 Games” lists on various websites and in magazines. I went to a variety of sources; from big gaming websites, to magazines that covered all forms of entertainment, to poorly designed websites run by fanboys. After a while, most of the lists start to look alike, with different combinations of the same 150 or so titles appearing on each one. Even so, there were a few games that I have to say I was kinda surprised to see on anyone’s lists.
Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance (PC)
To be perfectly honest, when I saw this game on Entertainment Weekly’s list, I had to go back and make sure they didn’t actually mean the original X-Wing, but sadly, this was not the case. X-Wing Alliance basically takes everything that was fun about the original X-Wing, and its excellent sequel, Tie-Fighter, and gets rid of it. The missions are poorly designed, and beating them generally requires failing repeatedly until you learn all the AI routines and all of the little “surprises” that are going to happen. The plotline is not only completely alien to the Star Wars movies it’s based on (unlike X-Wing and Tie Fighter which expanded on existing characters and storylines), but actually changes the ending of Return of the Jedi so that your character ends up flying the Millennium Falcon against the 2nd Death Star instead of Lando. This game wouldn’t belong in a top 500.
RPG Maker (PSX)
You know what would be a great idea? A game that lets you make your own RPG, except that you have to enter all the text in the entire game without the aid of a keyboard. That way, 90% of the time spent making your epic quest would be on a screen normally reserved for entering your initials. What fun! It would be even better if there weren’t enough backgrounds or character designs to have it in anything other than a medieval fantasy setting. RPG Maker did give players almost total freedom to make their own storylines, enemies, and spells, but unfortunately, a lot of the gameplay was hard-wired and unchangeable. It also wasn’t very good; meaning that no matter how skilled you got at designing games in RPG Maker, the best you could ever hope to create was an adventure that was only marginally atrocious.
Zelda 2: Adventure of Link (NES)
I was kind of surprised to see this one on more than a few Top 100 lists, because when I was growing up, my friends and I always referred to it as “that Zelda game that isn’t fun”. All these years later, I still find that to be a pretty accurate description. A big part of the appeal of the original Zelda is that because of its overhead perspective and game world that gave you freedom to go where you wanted in a fairly nonlinear fashion, it wasn’t like most other games out there. Zelda II added a lot of linear, side-scrolling gameplay, and in doing so, made itself a lot more like almost every other NES game on the market. Worse yet, the side scrolling parts really weren’t all that good.
Anyways, if you haven’t guessed already, TJG will be putting out our own Top 100 List shortly. If you enjoy writing similar to this, except about games that are actually, you know, good, you’ll want to keep your eyes open for that.